Joe Regalia’s students might not be overly impressed by the 4.05 GPA he produced at the University of Michigan Law School, which earned him summa cum laude honors. And maybe they’re not roused by his clerkships for U.S. District Courts and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. But certainly, Regalia’s work with Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, among other law firms, impels students to peer over their laptops, engage with the professor, and bolster the tools they need to be effective lawyers in the 21st century.
That’s because Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati is the Palo Alto, California-based firm that took Apple public and was featured in the film The Social Network. While with the firm, Regalia represented such clients as Google, Groupon, and Tesla on issues related to patent litigation, trademark, and intellectual property.
That experience, as well as the workshops he’s conducted with judges and attorneys throughout the country, has helped Regalia get students to appreciate the value of legal writing—a critically important discipline for which the William S. Boyd School of Law has been ranked No. 1 in the nation for the last two years by U.S. News & World Report.
“We’re lucky at Boyd that a lot of folks come to the school because they know the secret: Those practical [legal-writing] skills are what get them jobs and make them successful,” says Regalia, who will teach lawyering process beginning in January. “Writing is so elemental and integral to every type of legal practice.”
Boyd’s commitment to legal writing, as well as its nontraditional culture, the goal-oriented students it attracts, and Nevada’s entrepreneurial spirit, are among the reasons Regalia left the Loyola University Chicago School of Law to return to the law school, where he previously taught as an adjunct professor from 2015-2017. Regalia was also impressed by Boyd’s openness to the concept of incorporating technology and innovation.
To that latter point, Regalia stresses that today’s law students must master not only basic computer skills but other mature technologies such as electronic discovery, analytics, and artificial intelligence. They must also be open to working with coders and others on innovations that create value for firms and clients, as well as to better understand the ever-growing legal consequences of each piece of technology.
“Lawyers have to step out of their traditional roles,” he says. “It’s not just a matter of using simple or advanced tools; you have to adopt a mindset of a little bit of an entrepreneur, a little bit of a business person, [and] a little bit of a regulator to play a very different role than we used to.”
Regalia’s long list of career accomplishments also includes the founding of his Pro Se Boot Camp, which is designed to help those who frequently deal with the court system navigate the legal process without an attorney. Through the camp, individuals who are homeless or in such populations as women’s shelters, prisons, and rehabilitation programs develop skills to gain a better understanding of the legal system.
Also, as a contributing editor for the Law Professor Blogs Network, Regalia pens a regular column about legal writing that’s often one of the site’s most-read articles. In addition to his column, Regalia is working with a team of lawyers to create an online interactive legal-writing training platform for law students and lawyers. Currently in the midst of beta testing, he expects the training platform to launch on Write.Law in 2020 and feature short videos, interactive lessons, and quizzes that will focus on lawyering techniques and practices.
For Regalia, everything comes back to a passion for teaching a legal skill that’s as vital as any. “It’s much harder to change writing than it is anything else among habits and practices,” he says. “But at Boyd, students undergo a significant transformation because we focus so much on the writing, and there’s so much to work on and build up.”