It is with deep sadness that we mourn the passing of Salvatore C. Gugino, ’81, a remarkable attorney, cherished member of the legal community, proud McGeorge School of Law alumni, and dear friend to many. Sal’s passing leaves a void that cannot be easily filled, as he was not only a highly esteemed attorney but also a person who brightened the lives of those around him with his wit and humor.
Sal’s journey in the legal profession spanned over four decades, during which he made significant contributions to the legal community. Admitted to the Nevada State Bar in 1981, he dedicated his career to practicing law in Clark County, Nevada. His expertise encompassed a wide range of legal matters, including complex litigation, personal injury claims, insurance coverage, both public and private sector labor law, contract disputes, interest and grievance arbitration, and employment law matters, including discrimination based on age, gender, sexual orientation, race, religion, national origin, or disability.
Before embarking on his legal career, Sal was a high school government teacher in the Clark County School District, where he also served on the negotiating team for the Clark County Teachers Association in the 1970s. This experience shaped his understanding of the intricate dynamics involved in labor law, which later became one of his areas of expertise.
During his time at McGeorge School of Law, Sal was dedicated not only to his studies but also to his leadership position on the Student Bar Association. Most fond of his time spent studying Constitutional Law under former United States Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, Sal often boasted about the lessons Justice Kennedy taught and the stories Justice Kennedy shared. Moreover, Sal cherished the unique experience of delivering the commencement speech alongside Justice Kennedy during his graduation from McGeorge in 1981.
Sal’s dedication to public service extended beyond his time in law school and remained evident throughout his entire career. Shortly after graduating from McGeorge, Sal was appointed to the State of Nevada Local Government Employee Relations Board (EMRB) by Governor Richard Bryan. He went on to serve as a Member and Chairman of the Board for over 12 years, presiding over decisions on public sector labor law disputes between governmental entities and their employees.
In addition to his work on the EMRB, Sal served as an arbitrator for the Court Annexed Arbitration Program in Clark County since 1992. His commitment to alternative dispute resolution continued as he became a mediator for the Nevada Mediation Program and the State of Nevada Foreclosure Mediation Program. These roles allowed him to guide parties towards mutually agreeable settlements, showcasing his talent for bringing people together and finding common ground.
Sal’s expertise and reputation extended beyond his legal practice. Serving as the editor and author of Chapter 2 of the Nevada Civil Practice Manual, titled “Judges and Attorneys,” for nearly three decades, he provided a valuable resource cherished by legal professionals. This notable contribution exemplified Sal’s commitment to sharing knowledge and promoting excellence within the legal community. In addition, Sal assumed the role of President at the Clark County Bar Association in 1996, further demonstrating his exceptional leadership skills. Sal was also a long-time member of the McGeorge Alumni Board as well as a proud donor to the school.
Sal’s remarkable achievements are evidenced by his numerous accolades, including being honored with multiple awards, receiving an AV rating from Martindale-Hubbel, and being recognized in prestigious publications such as Strathmore’s Who’s Who, Vegas, Inc.’s Top Lawyers, America’s Most Honored Professionals, and America’s Top 100 High Stakes Litigators (Nevada). Additionally, in December 2021, Sal was proudly inducted into the Clark County Bar Association’s esteemed 40-Year Club.
Sal’s dedication to the legal profession served as an inspiration to many, including his granddaughter, Ashley Gugino. Following in his footsteps, Ashley graduated from McGeorge in 2020 and embarked on her legal career as an associate attorney at Eglet Adams. There, she works under McGeorge alumnus Robert Eglet (’88) and his wife Tracy Eglet, specializing in catastrophic injury matters.
While Sal’s professional achievements were undeniably impressive, it is his warm personality, humor, and quick wit that endeared him to those who knew him. He had a remarkable ability to lighten the mood and bring smiles to the faces of colleagues and friends. Sal’s humor was perhaps best captured in his famous humor article, “Ask Mr. Lawyer,” which brought laughter and entertainment to readers far and wide.
Sal Gugino’s passing leaves an irreplaceable void in the legal community and the hearts of those who had the privilege of knowing him. He will be remembered as an exceptional attorney, a dedicated public servant, and a true friend. Sal’s legacy serves as an inspiration to us all, reminding us to approach life and our work with compassion, integrity, and a healthy dose of humor. Sal’s contributions to McGeorge, the legal profession, and the lives he touched will never be forgotten.
By Ashley Gugino, ’20.