Joe Regalia’s return to Boyd Law last fall was most welcome. His research and teaching focuses on legal writing, persuasion science, technology and innovation, environmental law, and insurance law. He is developing a pilot project in partnership with leading legal tech and innovation experts across the globe. The project aims to train law students and lawyers how to leverage cutting-edge technology and innovation in their practice. He used his tech expertise to help the Boyd Law community quickly transition to online learning this past spring semester. He also founded and runs the Pro Se Bootcamp, a project that trains pro se litigants to navigate the legal system.
Regalia also holds positions in the Legal Writing Institute, the Association of Legal Writing Directors, and the Legal Writing Section of A.A.L.S. His work has been featured in publications such as the Kentucky Law Journal, the New Mexico Law Review, and the Virginia Environmental Law Journal.
When you’re out in the community or traveling, what’s the biggest misconception you encounter about UNLV?
We all meet plenty of folks who think of the Strip when they hear the words Las Vegas, no matter the context. And the same goes for UNLV. “Wait, isn’t Las Vegas just a bunch of casinos?”
And I get it. If you’ve only come here as a tourist and you never left downtown, you would never realize that such a unique and wonderful community is hiding just off Las Vegas Boulevard.
Everyone who comes to UNLV quickly finds out that we are a vibrant and diverse group. We are entrepreneurs. We are professionals. We are so many other things. But no, we don’t all hang out at the Strip every night.
What’s the last big project you completed and how did you celebrate/decompress afterward?
I recently had the pleasure of leading a special virtual legal bootcamp here at UNLV. The boot camp was a collaboration between UNLV’s law school and our local legal community. The goal was to offer practical training to our law students and new law graduates that would get them ready for their jobs in the legal field now that the practice of law has largely become virtual.
Watching our students work hard to serve our community — with all that is going on right now — was both humbling and inspiring. But it was an intense couple of weeks. So I unwound by spending an evening with my wife and our best friends playing board games, one of our favorite pastimes.
Best tip or advice for someone new to UNLV?
Dive into our rich community. It’s easy to come to a big school like UNLV, keep your head down, and plow through your academic work. But don’t do that. We have an exciting community here at the school — and you will be much better off if you become a part of it. There are so many student groups to get involved with. So many faculty who can serve as mentors. And all these relationships will follow you long after you graduate. I hear from graduates all the time that they forged relationships at UNLV that led to business partnerships, jobs, and longtime friendships. That’s a lot to pass up.
I am the faculty advisor for a new student organization at UNLV that is aiming to publish articles about how the law affects everyday people. And it all started because a few students had a great idea and figured out how to make it happen. You can, too.
Outside of your research, what are you passionate about?
Probably too many things. I love finding new ideas and building those ideas into projects that can serve our students or our community. I always find myself working with lots of different people on different things — which is exactly how I like it. Many of these projects focus on how lawyers can better use technology to serve others.
Another passion is helping people understand how the legal system works, even if they’ve never gone to law school. This is a pressing problem because many Nevadans need legal help but can’t get it. Teaching them how to represent themselves is one way we can make that problem a little better. So I’ve been working on a virtual training platform that helps folks understand their legal issues and how to get by on their own.
Outside work, my biggest passions are my family and friends (I know that sounds trite, but it’s true!). I can often be found building something with my wife, spending time with our friends, getting out into nature, or working on some writing project.
If you weren’t working at UNLV, where do you think you’d be?
That’s a tough one, because it may sound corny, but there’s nowhere else I’d rather be than here. If I were forced to pick, I’d probably still be teaching law or writing or teaching technology to folks somewhere. Or maybe I’d go pick up a second career as a coder. Technology is opening up so many opportunities, especially here in Nevada, and I want to be a part of that future.
What is something people would be surprised to learn about you?
While a student at UNR (sorry!), I drove a school bus for the Washoe County School District. I’ve had a lot of jobs over the years, but that will always stand out as one of my favorites. My kids were so fun, and my colleagues were wonderful, too.
Another fun fact is that my wife and I built our house next to our best friends’ house here in Las Vegas. So we basically picked our own neighbors — which was a very good decision.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
This is a boring one, but like so many lawyers, I drink a lot of coffee. Like, a lot.
Have you ever taken a personality test?
I have! I thought it was surprisingly accurate, and my wife and friends agree. I’m apparently very analytical — no surprise for a law professor.
Incredibly, social science has shined enough light on how folks think and act that we can start to draw some lines around different personalities. I’m no expert, but I’m a fan of gaining insights from data when we can. Most importantly, that data can give us new perspectives on things. And I love anything that can get me thinking from a different perspective.
Christmas music: yay or nay?
A million yays. I adore Christmas. One of my lifelong dreams is to put up enough Christmas decorations that I get invited on TLC’s Christmas Light Fight show. So yes, pretty much any time after Oct. 31 you will find me listening to a broad array of Christmas music anywhere I go.
What’s your day typically like right now?
I think for everyone working at home, every day blurs together. Thankfully my smartphone and computer remind me what day it is, or else I'd forget. Most days for me right now consist of meeting with students (I'm teaching a summer class), spending a few hours working on research, then a few more hours either preparing for my classes that week or working on other projects.
What do you miss most about campus?
This may sound obvious, but my colleagues and students. Zoom is great, and I believe students can learn plenty through top-notch online classes UNLV offers. But there is something special about being together in person. Being able to walk down the hall and hear about amazing things my colleagues are doing. Or having students drop by to chat about a project they are working on. There's no easy way to replace that online.
What’s the silver lining in all of this for you?
Because I was already so interested in technology leading into this transition, in many ways, it's been an exciting time for me. I've had the chance to lead several webinars, be involved in different working groups, and help support new projects aimed at supporting law students and others during these trying times.
One project we are working on launching right now is lawjobresources.com — a free website meant to help law students and recent graduates get more meaningful experiences. There is also incredibly important work being done across the legal field with diversity and inclusion. With all the hardship right now, there are many opportunities to help others. So that is a silver lining.
Have you had any mishaps or funny moments working from home?
So many. Working from home just lends itself to comedic mishaps. My dog, Turtle, has video-bombed several of my classes — often without me knowing until a student pointed it out. He tends to mill around near my desk, which is perfect for my webcam to pick him up peeking out from behind me.