Hoya Highlight: Regina A. Demeo (F'94)

Regina A. Demeo (F'94)

Author, Lecturer and Family Law Attorney

Describe your current position and what led you to your job:

I am an author, lecturer and family law attorney in Washington, D.C., who promotes mediation, collaborative law and alternate dispute resolution methods to preserve assets and goodwill while families renegotiate their ties during a separation and/or divorce. I run my own law firm in Dupont Circle and am a frequent lecturer throughout the D.C. area, including at Georgetown Law and George Washington University Law School. I have been on Sirius XM’s show Acceso Legal as a legal commentator, as well as ABC’s Washington Business Tonight and Montgomery County Cable’s Money Matters. I was always interested in pursuing a legal career, and in law school, family law really captured my interest. After I went through my own divorce in 2005, I decided to pursue trainings as a mediator and collaborative professional so that I could provide these services in addition to the traditional negotiation or litigation option. I became quite passionate about informing people of these alternatives to litigation through my writings and lectures, and wound up receiving an incredible amount of media attention starting in April 2010, including feature stories in Bethesda Magazine, the Washington Post, ABA Journal and blogs across the country.

What has been the most rewarding moment in your career?

The most rewarding moment in my career was the first time I went on television as a legal expert for ABC, discussing collaborative divorce. I realized at that moment what an amazing opportunity I had through the media to inform the masses of something they could benefit from and that I felt passionate about. At the same time, I was very well aware of the fact that this was a special moment for me personally, to be recognized as an authority in my field at a very early age. Some people spend their entire lives dedicated to a cause and never get that kind of opportunity or recognition.

What is the best career advice you have received?

Early on in my career, my two senior partners instilled in me the value of volunteering for organizations and giving back to my alma maters. I have met many wonderful people and had numerous opportunities presented to me as a result of my involvement with my alma maters and groups that I have volunteered for throughout the years.

What would you recommend to someone interested in working in your field?

To truly assist families in crisis, it is not only important study the law, but also to delve into psychology. Attending seminars, reading books and current articles related to this field, and connecting with mental health professionals is an essential way to help people navigate the emotional side of a separation or divorce. Helping people get past their anger and disappointment so that they can make rational decisions that will impact their future is a key skill that differentiates a competent family law attorney from an excellent one.

What challenges have you faced and how did you successfully manage one situation?

The greatest challenge I’ve faced in the last several years has been maintaining a healthy work-life balance. As a mother, I want to spend quality time with my eight-year-old son. As a professional, I care about helping my clients and developing my career. As a person, I want to enjoy time with my friends and volunteering for projects that promote causes that matter to me. In 2010, I found myself juggling way too much—I was maintaining my law practice as a partner in a mid-size firm while running a non-profit, helping my son obtain special services and managing a household by myself in one of the worst economies of my lifetime. I’d always tried to give 100 percent of myself to whatever endeavor I was pursuing; saying “no” when asked to help out was not in my vocabulary, and I was very reluctant to ask others for help. By the end of 2010, I realized that to survive, I needed to accept that I may not give 100 percent of myself to something, but as an over-functioning individual, if I gave 90 percent, that was still pretty good compared to most. Saying no sometimes is okay, because we just cannot do it all. Meanwhile, learning to ask for help from others and delegating is a normal, healthy coping mechanism that most members of our society use in order to function. Being part of a larger social fabric means we each bring different skills to the table, and to truly succeed, we have to work together. No one is expected to operate as a self-sufficient island all of the time. By reaching out to my large network of friends and family, I managed to not only survive but thrive during the most trying year of my life.

What skills are necessary or what prepared you the most for your career?

My thirst for knowledge has truly been essential to my career. I am always signing up for CLEs (Continuing Legal Education classes) and webinars. By maintaining an open mind, I can appreciate different points of view. By seeking to understand how people think, I’ve been able to develop valuable skills as a mediator and collaborator. My gift is connecting the right people with the right ideas, and I love helping people learn and reach their maximum potential. Everyone always comments on my ability to connect others and my high energy level. I realize that I have a tremendous amount of drive, and I have always been very assertive. When I have a mission and a vision, I set out to achieve my goals and rarely allow others to discourage me—this is both a blessing and a curse.

What professional associations have aided in your professional development?

I have always appreciated the connections I have made through my alma maters—Andover, Georgetown and GWU Law School. My membership and involvement with other groups have also been incredibly rewarding: Women’s Bar Association, International Academy of Collaborative Professionals, Collaborative Divorce Association, D.C. Bar and Bar Association of Montgomery County.