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Table of Contents Protecting Your Business’ Goodwill through Federal Trademark Registration
Is a Letter of Intent Ever Enforceable Like a Contract?
Do You Know What Your Bylaws Say?
The ‘Push Me - Pull You’ of Rising Interest Rates and Yields
Social Media in Hiring
When the Dust Settled, Few Changes were Made to the Construction Industry in Nevada
Understanding the Complexities of a Mechanic’s Lien
Northern Nevada Law Firms
Circulation Director Graphic Design
The Lawyers are In Business is at the heart of law firms’ counsel, support
Welcome to the 2015 edition of the Business Law Guide. Northern Nevada’s legal sector is a lot healthier these days, amid a stronger local economy and a diverse array of corporate sectors providing law firms with a varied diet of business. Mergers are also a big part of the local legal scene, as evidenced by several high-profile firms looking to establish a beachhead in northern Nevada. Others are rumored to be in the offing. Legal heads at Reno firms say growing local companies and big national firms bringing operations into The Biggest Little City in the World speaks to the heightened profile of the city, providing opportunities to broaden practice lines around the region’s burgeoning business and industry. And even though business is thriving, legal advisors say companies must act to preserve and protect their proprietary assets, product lines and intellectual property, and attend to compliance issues with an eye on the horizon. In this issue, some of the region’s noteworthy legal minds weigh in on what business owners should be thinking about and for which areas of their businesses they should have a plan in place. Many business issues today are legal issues. To be relevant, law firms understand that they need to be consultants with strong internal skills sets that meet the varied needs of their clients.
Keith Sampson Rob Fair
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Northern Nevada Business Weekly |
Protecting Your Business’ Goodwill through Federal Trademark Registration By Justin Bustos
s a business owner, you spend valuable time, energy, and creativity building an identity for your brand, products or services that your customers will recognize. If you have a quality product or provide superior services, you will earn repeat business from your customers and, in the process, build your company’s reputation and goodwill in the marketplace. Once you successfully build that strong product or service identity, there is a risk that other individuals and businesses may attempt to capitalize upon the goodwill you have created by marketing their own products or services using a confusingly similar mark or identifier. Thus, as a business owner, it is important to consider how you can protect your brand identity through trademark law. A trademark is a form of intellectual property. It functions as a mechanism to allow consumers to identify the origin of goods and services in the marketplace. A trademark exists as a symbol of goodwill and has no separate existence from the product or service it symbolizes. Generally speaking, a trademark may include any combination of words, names, or symbols used to identify a business. However, it is generally impermissible to use a trademark that merely describes the products or services offered. Instead, a trademark must be distinctive. A mark is considered descriptive if it defines a particular characteristic of the good or service in a way that does not require any exercise of imagination. For example, the mark “Delicious Foods” would be merely descriptive of the services offered if it was used to identify a restaurant chain. Trademark rights are established based on the date of first use in commerce. The first business to use a mark is deemed to be the “senior” user and has the right to prevent any “junior” users from using confusingly similar marks in the same industry and market or within the senior user’s natural zone of expansion. Thus, in choosing a trademark, it is important to conduct sufficient research to determine whether that mark is already being used in commerce. Third party services exist that can assist with such searches. Once a valid trademark is chosen and used in commerce, the business owner acquires a property right to that trademark. Although trademarks receive some protection simply by virtue of their use, a business can obtain additional protections by registering its trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”). Registration of a trademark on the USPTO’s principal register bars the registration of marks that are confusingly similar. It also permits a business to use the registered trademark symbol, ®, and serves as constructive notice of the claim to ownership. Indeed, registration constitutes prima facie evidence that the trademark is valid and the
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registered owner has the exclusive right to use the mark on the goods and services specified in the registration. After the mark has been federally registered and in continuous use for five consecutive years, the trademark owner may have the mark declared incontestable. Once a mark is declared incontestable, the registration of the mark constitutes conclusive evidence of the validity of the mark, the registrant’s ownership of the mark, and of the registrant’s exclusive right to use the registered mark in commerce. Finally, trademark registration also grants the trademark owner the right to file a trademark infringement lawsuit in federal court and to obtain certain monetary remedies in the event infringement occurs, which can include an infringer’s profits, damages, and costs of suit. In some cases, a trademark owner may also be able to recover their attorneys’ fees incurred in pursuing the lawsuit. Finally, once you have obtained and registered your trademark, it is important to vigorously protect your trademark from infringement that may harm your business’s goodwill. The failure to protect your mark from unauthorized use can, in some circumstances, result in the loss of your rights in the trademark. Thus, it is important to monitor your trademark in order to detect and address potential infringing use. There are third party monitoring services you can use to assist you. If you do detect an infringing use, you should take the necessary actions to protect your rights. If you believe your trademark is being infringed, you should contact an intellectual property lawyer to discuss how to proceed to protect your business’s trademark rights and corresponding goodwill. Businesses can spend years establishing a recognizable identity in the marketplace. Just as businesses take measures to protect their tangible property interests, it is equally important to protect the goodwill that has been established in the marketplace. In protecting your business’s goodwill, it is wise to federally register your trademark when possible as federal registration provides you with additional protections. Once you have established and registered your trademark, your job is not over. At that point, you must continue to vigorously protect and enforce your trademark rights just as you would enforce your rights in the event your tangible property was stolen or damaged. ●
Justin J. Bustos is an attorney at the law firm of Dickinson Wright, PLLC, which opened its Reno office in June 2015. He has over ten years of experience and practices primarily in the areas of commercial litigation, appeals, and criminal defense.
Is A Letter of Intent Ever Enforceable Like a Contract? By Brian Irvine
fter weeks of negotiation and due diligence, you finally sit down to celebrate an important deal. While you are relaxing and trying to figure out which bottle of wine to order, you get a text message with some terrible news – your business partner has changed his mind and no longer wants to go through with the transaction. You can’t believe that this is possible, because you and your business partner signed a document that included all of the important terms of the deal. You must have an enforceable contract, right? The answer to this question largely depends on the language of the document you hold in your hands. Certain documents may look like contracts, with very specific terms listed, like the names of the parties, the sales price and even a closing date, but still fall short of becoming an enforceable contract. These documents are usually referred to with names like “Letter of Intent,” “Memorandum of Understanding” or “Term Sheet.” And, since there is often a fine line between these kind of documents and enforceable contracts, it is critical to understand the difference, or run the risk of wasting time and money on negotiations and due diligence or even worse - losing a valuable opportunity. The existence of an enforceable contract in Nevada requires three basic elements: (1) an offer and acceptance; (2) meeting of the minds; and (3) consideration. Documents that contain all of these required elements are enforceable contracts that memorialize a full and final, negotiated agreement between the parties to that contract. Written contracts are typical in most sophisticated business transactions and can be used to enforce contractual rights in court when one party fails to meet the obligations they have promised to perform in that document. In contrast, documents such as letters of intent, memoranda of understanding or term sheets are usually thought of as “agreements to agree.” They often contain verbiage indicating that the agreement is “non-binding,” “for discussion purposes only” or “subject to further agreement.” They usually, but not always, contain some qualifying language that makes it clear that the parties do not intend to enter into a contract immediately, that they are still negotiating and that a final written contract will be drafted if the parties’ negotiations culminate in a deal. Numerous courts have used the following criteria to determine the parties’ intentions in interpreting such documents: (1) whether there has been an express reservation of the right not to be bound
Brian Irvine is a Reno native and member of the litigation department of Dickinson Wright PLLC, which opened its Reno office in June 2015. Mr. Irvine’s practice focuses on areas of litigation, construction, banking, bankruptcy and creditors’ rights.
in the absence of an additional, more final written agreement; (2) whether there has been partial performance of the obligations contemplated in the document; (3) whether all of the terms of the alleged contract have been agreed upon; and (4) whether the document in question is the type of contract that is usually committed to a final writing. In Nevada, courts have interpreted such “agreements to agree” fairly strictly, and have required evidence that is “convincing and subject to no other reasonable interpretation” that the parties intended to be bound immediately by the document at issue. Therefore, it is important to keep in mind that even if you have utilized a letter of intent or similar document as part of your negotiations, you may still need to draft a final written contract memorializing your final deal, even where there has been no disagreement between the parties about the contents of the letter of intent. This is especially true in complex transactions, where courts are more likely to require a detailed and clearly final contract as opposed to enforcing a simple term sheet. Because documents such as letters of intent are often not enforceable and are usually somewhat duplicative of the final contract, some business people believe them to be useless or inconsequential documents. However, this belief is not completely true. Letters of intent and similar documents can be used as the framework for the entire negotiation process. They can be used to make sure that the parties agree on all essential deal points before spending time and money on due diligence and drafting a formal agreement. They can permit the parties to declare publicly that they are officially negotiating, which can assist a buyer in obtaining necessary financing. They can also include a timeline and method for addressing the remaining deal points so the parties do not negotiate indefinitely. They can provide a potential buyer with the assurance that it is the only party with whom the seller is negotiating. Finally, they can detail, among other things, what information will be provided during due diligence and the timeline for conducting that due diligence. And, if negotiations fail, and a final deal is not reached, that does not mean that the parties can ignore the entirety of a letter of intent that was used to govern the parties’ negotiations. Instead, a letter of intent can be partially binding, where certain provisions, such as an exclusive negotiation covenant, a non-compete or nonsolicitation covenant, or a confidentiality provision, can be enforced if a party that signed a letter of intent does not comply with the negotiation framework set forth in that document. In conclusion, it is always best to proceed with caution when negotiating an important transaction and a party negotiating a significant deal should always consider engaging a competent attorney to protect its rights. And, while a letter of intent or similar document may not contain the necessary language to be considered an enforceable contract, there are potential ramifications to signing one that should be considered before putting pen to paper. ● Northern Nevada Business Weekly |
Collaborative Divorce: A Step that Could Save Your Business
By Lauren Berkich
contentious divorce can bankrupt a person both financially and emotionally. Under the traditional litigation approach to divorce, each spouse would retain his and her own attorney and financial expert. Each spouse would appear in court before the judge prepared to argue his or her position to the absolute extreme. And then, each would place their relationship, children, assets (including business interests) and futures in the judge’s hands to decide what happens next. In most cases the judge’s decision is equitable and neither party feels as if they have “won.” Litigation is a slow, time-consuming process. One spouse files a Complaint for Divorce. The other has 20 days to respond. Approximately three months later the couple appears before the court (likely each accompanied with an attorney) for an initial hearing, called a Case Management Conference. This is when the court issues temporary orders while the divorce is pending. For example, the court may require a party to pay temporary child support or temporary spousal support. The court may enter a Temporary Mutual Restraining Order, preventing either party from transferring, encumbering, concealing or in any way disposing of any property until further order of the court. Such an order could be problematic for a business owner. The court will then hold a Settlement Conference, approximately two to three months after the Case Management Conference. If a settlement is not reached, the court will hold a divorce trial three to six months after the Settlement Conference. Therefore, a divorce that reaches trial could take one year or more. You’re an informed, savvy, businessperson accustomed to working with people and working through disputes. Why would you refuse to work with the person you once pledged to share a life with? Instead of communicating and dissolving the romantic partnership together as a team, couples frequently retreat to their respective sides of the ring to fight and then allow a judge to make the tough decisions. Both spouses incur substantial fees and spend months of their life involved in an emotional, stressful, and expensive legal battle with their spouse. If the couple’s assets include business interests (e.g. a family run business or a sole proprietorship) the future of the business is also in the judge’s hands. Will the judge order the business to be sold to provide a source of funds for an equitable distribution of property? Will the judge render a decision that leaves both parties in joint control of the business? Will the judge require one party to pay substantial alimony to the other to account for that party retaining the business, an income-producing asset? For business owners a divorce proceeding that leaves key decisions to be made by the judge could result in substantial uncertainty for the business. For couples seeking an alternative approach, there’s a relatively new method that has been successful in California: collaborative divorce. This begins with two spouses making the commitment to resolve their divorce outside of court. Each is represented by an attorney whose goal is not to file motions and appear at hearings, but to work with jointly selected professionals to reach a fair, amicable resolution. If properly executed,
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a collaborative divorce could provide certainty for a couple’s business interests producing better and, more importantly, certain results for both parties. The collaborative process is also more efficient. Instead of the experts taking sides and spending time and money finding and exposing the weaknesses of the other party’s experts, the attorneys and the experts — such as accountants and mental health professionals —work together to obtain results with which each party can live. There are no court deadlines or notice requirements. Rather, couples can decide how fast or slow to move through the process. Perhaps the most compelling reason collaborative divorce makes sense for a business owner is privacy. Divorce is public record. In Washoe County, all divorce dockets are available for public viewing on the court’s website. Even if your divorce case has been sealed, the parties’ names and the fact that it is a divorce case is still accessible on the Internet. This could lead to financial uncertainty and potentially impact customer relations, management relations and financing prospects with local banks. Collaborative divorce would allow couples to privately decide the terms of their divorce. One of the attorneys involved would prepare the necessary court forms. The couple would then submit to the court only the necessary forms for divorce. No complaints or motions will be filed and no hearings will be set. If the couple wanted even more privacy, they may consider filing in another county, like Carson City. Carson City does not have electronic dockets so the divorce docket is not available for viewing on the Internet. The collaborative process is not right for every divorce. It requires spouses to have a mutual respect for each other, the life they have created and the partnership they now seek to divide. It requires a commitment to resolution, rather than a desire to demonize and punish each other for perceived (or actual) wrongdoing. A collaborative divorce may be even more beneficial if the couple’s assets include business interests, especially if the business is the sole or primary source of one or both of the spouses’ regular income. Even if a business was started prior to marriage, there is a community interest that accrues during the marriage that must be dealt with and resolved in the divorce process — whether it be by way of the traditional litigation process or the new on the horizon collaborative process. A group of professionals — attorneys, accountants, and mental health professionals in Reno — have formed a group within the Nevada Dispute Resolution Coalition with the goal of bringing the collaborative process to Northern Nevada. If you want more information about NDRC, you may contact the author of this article. ●
Lauren D. Berkich is an associate attorney with Woodburn and Wedge and works extensively in family law.
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Do You Know What Your Bylaws Say? By Austin Sweet
f you own a business, you probably have a business entity. Maybe you heard that business entities provide some sort of liability protection, and someone mentioned that you should form an LLC, so you went online or, better yet, to a lawyer, and formed an LLC. A few weeks later, you got a fancy looking book with your company’s name embossed in gold lettering. You played with the neat little company seal thingy for a few minutes, patted yourself on the back for being a responsible business owner with such an official looking book and seal, and then put the book on a shelf never to be touched again. That is, of course, until your lawyer asked you to bring that book to his office because its contents will dramatically impact the outcome of the dispute you’ve recently entered into with your partner. Are you sure that book says what you want it to say? Do you even know what it says? How will this impact your business? The documents in your corporate book are your corporate governance documents (Articles of Incorporation / Articles of Organization, Bylaws / Operating Agreement, etc.) which govern every aspect of your business. These documents outline who owns the company, who controls the company, who makes the decisions, who can sign checks, how the owners and managers get paid, and what happens when the owners get into a dispute. The contents and accuracy of these documents are therefore critical to the smooth operation of your business. Think of your corporate book as the “rule book” for your business. The good news is that you get to write many of the rules yourself and, if you don’t like the rules, you generally have the ability to change them whenever you want. The bad news is that the consequences for breaking the rules can be severe. You should therefore ensure that these rules are accurate and complete from the outset. Most importantly, make sure you actually know and understand them. Your business is probably not the same today as it was when it was formed. Hopefully it’s bigger, so you may have hired a manager to help run the day-to-day operations. Perhaps you’ve opened a second location. You’re older now, so you may be grooming someone to take over. Have changes in ownership or management been properly reflected? Is your new manager authorized to sign checks and enter into contracts? Does the buy-sell provision account for your second location? Now that your partner’s children are grown, are you comfortable being partners with them if your partner dies or decides to retire and give them his interest?
Austin Sweet is an attorney at Gunderson Law Firm, practicing business law and litigation directed at helping business owners protect and enforce their rights. He can be contacted at (775) 829-1222 or email@example.com.
The answers to these questions are likely to change several times over the life of your business. It is important to regularly review and update your corporate governance documents to reflect these changes. Amending your Operating Agreement while everyone gets along is easy, but if things start to go sideways, you may be stuck with what your governing documents require, whether you like it or not. Carefully drafting and regularly updating your corporate governance documents doesn’t help unless you are complying with them. Observing the corporate formalities of your business is critical to maintaining your liability protection. Ignoring these formalities, even unintentionally, can lead to severe consequences. Are you holding annual meetings and keeping minutes? Have you formally authorized your new manager to sign checks? Do the minutes reflect approval to borrow money for that new line of credit? Are you actually using that neat little company seal thingy that came in your book? There are some corporate formalities that are required by law, but your corporate governance documents may include additional formalities which are not. These formalities are like your business’s appendix: they serve no known practical function but can unexpectedly kill you. For example, Nevada law does not require that an entity have or use a company seal, but if you got one with your corporate book, it’s likely that your governing documents require you to use it. Using it serves no practical function, but failing to use it could contribute to losing your liability protection. If you are getting bogged down by all these formalities, consult an attorney who can help you trim your governing documents. As any small business owner has experienced, knowing what you should do and actually doing it are very different things. Having ensured that your governing documents accurately reflect your business operations, include all necessary provisions, and are being followed becomes critical if a dispute arises, either internally among partners or with an outside third-party. If your business is involved in a legal dispute, one of the first things your lawyer will want to review are your corporate governance documents. If you have an internal dispute, these documents will dictate each partners’ rights and responsibilities. If you have an external dispute, the other lawyer might try to use the fact that you weren’t following your own rules to “pierce the corporate veil” and hold you personally liable for the company’s debts. So pull that fancy looking corporate book off the shelf, dust off the gold-embossed lettering, give your company seal to your kids to play with, and prepare yourself for a very boring, but incredibly important read. If you find anything you don’t understand or haven’t been doing, consult with an attorney who can help you rewrite and follow your own rules. It probably won’t be the most exciting thing you do today, but it could ultimately save you a lot of time and money. ●
Northern Nevada Business Weekly |
The ‘Push Me - Pull You’ of Rising Interest Rates and Yields By Alan B. Rabkin
ou remember the twin-headed llamas in the original (and remade) movie Doctor Dolittle, don’t you? One side, uh, head, wanting to go to the left and the other one wanting the right? Oh wait, is it one side wants to go forward and one wants to go backwards? Oh, no matter. The two-in-one are not exactly working hand-in-glove at all times and often work at cross-purposes. Well, and here comes the really big transitional stretch between mythical creatures and interest rates, interest rates currently being studied by the Federal Reserve and predicted to go higher are just a little like our twin-headed llama friend. We generally love llamas just as we usually love receiving more interest on our money, right? Of course we do. But not always. The love depends on what side of the interest issue you are on and our love for interest is often deeply conflicted and hopelessly confused depending on our circumstances. Let’s call the first head of our Pushmi-pullyu our ‘saver’ or money side. Savers, often the older bank customers, like ascending interest rates—in fact, they like rising rates a lot. A 5 percent certificate of deposit compared to today’s paltry rates is like a sugar-high for your average adult saver. Rising rates cause outflows of money from other investments (read that equities, bonds and treasuries) straight into your friendly bank or credit union. Why incur worrisome risk when a high rate is guaranteed by a bank and in many cases actually insured by our friend Uncle Sam. But, alas, current rates are a tiny fraction of that 5.00 percent level we last saw in 2007. Some rates are as low as .05 percent--a one hundredth of that lofty rate. Predicted rising rates are the happy place of the saver’s world and can turn saver’s frowns into saver’s smiles. The clouds part. The sun shines. We can party (with interest) like its pre-2007 again. OK, now let’s look at the second analogous head of our Pushmi-pullyu. This is the ‘borrower’ head. In a rising interest rate environment it is not a pretty head. In fact, borrowers are the ‘party-poopers’ of higher interest rates. They hate rising rates if an adjustable rate loan tracks interest rates upward. Rather, our borrower’s love the fixed, rock-bottom rates we have all seen for the past 5-plus years. It’s cheap money. Got a 4.00 percent annual percentage rate fixed loan? Sweet! Locked in low borrowing rates are like buying something for half price—a virtual sale on borrowed money. Cheap borrowed money equates to lower expense overhead and larger profits. Perfect for our cost-controlling businesses. Addicting. Enticing. But coming to an end soon. Rising rates empty the punchbowl of profit and ruin the party for our borrowers. Oh, let’s not forget the market investors. Think of that group as a third imaginary head to our ‘Pushmi-pullyu”. What do investors think about rising interest rates? Well, investments and investors tied to interest rates may like the rising rates as it helps the investment yield increase. Last week you got 2 percent. This week you get 3 percent. The extra 1 percent is a bonus. Let’s do the math—wow, 1 percent more, great! But not all investments are happy with rising interest rates by any means. Stocks and bonds tied to growth may hate the rising rates
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as ascending interest rates equate to higher costs that could put the proverbial brakes on growth or could curb the viability of a bond. So let’s call our market investors somewhere in between and ‘on the fence’ about rising interest rates. Some love it. Some don’t. As Yoda might be heard to say if there were banks on the planet Dagobah, “Conflicted they are.” So can a bank or credit union ever get these ‘heads’ moving in the same direction or are they inherently destined to move apart? Well, it may depend on the focus of your bank and the decision at the Federal Reserve to help savers, borrowers or investors. Your bank may have little need for deposits because they have little demand for loans in a rising interest rate market. So they may attempt to discourage your deposit (or renewal at maturity) in that bank by lagging in their paying higher interest even in an environment of rising rates of interest. Or, the opposite may be true. Your bank may need your deposits to fund loan growth or other activities and be willing to pay a premium for deposits as it may still be a cheap form of capital for the bank to grow. The Fed’s involvement is more complicated. It is a Fed balancing act that looks at factors such as inflation, unemployment and the potential creation of a bubble. The Fed in helping one side of banking may badly hurt the other sides. It’s Good Fed-Bad Fed based upon your vantage point. So now you know why Fed chairmen all seem to have that tired look. So what can we do about this ‘Push Me-Pull You’ situation if rising rates positively impact one side and falling rates negatively impact the other? Is this a fool’s errand—like herding cats? Maybe not so much. For starters you can plan your side of the financial horizon better right now. If you are a saver and sense higher rates are in the wind, you can reduce the term of your deposits to a shorter horizon and not allow a deposit to auto-renew for a longer term. If you are a borrower, your focus is different. You can start to lock in low-interest borrowed money now and for a long term at fixed rates of interest. What about investors—what can they do? Well, if you can stand the bumpy ride, maybe you ride that ‘coaster through the cyclical changes in rates and hopefully into the next positive market position. “That’s lots of work, Alan, for small returns.” Yes, you are probably right. But it’s the new world of retail banking. Of course, if you ever grow tired of chasing interest rate changes up and down you can always buy a llama farm. ●
Alan B. Rabkin is Of Counsel at Holland & Hart LLP and a financial services attorney. He advises banks and other financial institutions, trust companies, payment systems and processors throughout the firm’s 15-office system. In addition to being a licensed lawyer in Nevada, Alan is licensed in five other jurisdictions and holds a certification in bank regulatory compliance known as a CRCM issued by the American Bankers Association as well as a Ph.D.(Law) in a bank-related topic.
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Social Media in Hiring: To Use or Not to Use?
By Shannon Pierce
n today’s digital age, employers have a world of information at their fingertips through which they can learn about current and prospective employees. A quick online search can yield information far beyond what an individual includes in his or her resume or employment application. Out of a desire to make sure a candidate is qualified and will otherwise be a “good fit” for an organization, companies may be tempted to search for information concerning job applicants through social media sites such as Facebook or LinkedIn. Yet this could result in unintended liability if not properly used. Recently, a federal district court in California was faced with the issue of whether LinkedIn’s Reference Search product, which allows companies to search for people who have previously worked with a particular individual, violated the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act. Ultimately, LinkedIn prevailed by demonstrating that since the information it supplies about an individual is input by that individual, the Reference Search tool cannot violate the FCRA. Despite this victory for LinkedIn, employers should exercise caution before using LinkedIn, Facebook or any other form of social media to learn information about current or prospective employees. Before a company begins accessing the social media profiles of prospective employees, the company should question why it is doing so. What information does the company hope to gain that is not available through the candidate’s resume or employment application? Is that information directly related to the hiring process? If not, the company may be infusing unnecessary risk into the hiring process by checking up on prospective employees through social media. As a general rule, employers are free to assess publicly available information about potential candidates, which includes information that is made publicly available through an individual’s social media profile(s). That being said, where businesses use any form of social media to gather intel concerning prospective employees, they run the risk of being accused of unlawful discrimination if they learn information upon which they are prohibited from basing the hiring decision. For example, if a prospective employer were to look up my LinkedIn profile, he or she would be able to learn about my professional experience, but they would also be able to see my photograph and would therefore learn my gender, race, and approximate age — information which may not be immediately apparent from the resume that I submitted. Since LinkedIn allows users to post information about their interests and languages spoken, a LinkedIn user’s profile could also contain information about their country of origin, interest groups with which they are associated, and so on. Thus, if a company accesses a candidate’s LinkedIn profile and thereafter does not hire that candidate, the rejected job seeker could assume that the company based its decision on a protected classification (such as race, sex, age, sexual orientation, or union activity) and thereafter file a claim of discrimination. While the rejected candidate bears the burden of proving that discrimination occurred, and while there are certainly defenses that
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companies can raise when accused of discrimination, the point is, a company which takes it upon itself to access the social media profiles of a prospective employee may face additional hurdles in litigation than if it relied on the applicant’s resume alone. If, notwithstanding the risks, a company elects to use social media to research prospective candidates, it should carefully plan out its social media strategy to try to minimize risk. Among other things, businesses should consider the following. • Choose your social media carefully. More often than not, LinkedIn users tend to tailor their profiles to include only information that is helpful to advancing their career in their chosen profession. In contrast, Facebook users and those who maintain personal blogs often include significant personal information on those sites, such as information about their family status, sexual orientation, and other information that companies generally should not consider in the hiring process. If a company is determined to use some form of social media to evaluate candidates, LinkedIn may be a less risky alternative to viewing a candidate’s public Facebook profile or personal blog. Among other reasons, if a company is later accused of discrimination because it accessed a candidate’s public LinkedIn profile during the hiring process, the company could argue that the fact that it researched the candidate through LinkedIn rather than other social media sites is indicative of an intent to obtain and consider only jobrelated information. • Develop a social media policy. If a company elects to use LinkedIn or other social media to assess potential candidates for employment, it should develop a policy outlining which information can and cannot be considered within the LinkedIn user’s profile. The company may even want to implement a double blind system, where one person retrieves the candidate’s LinkedIn profile and then redacts all personal, non-job related information before disclosing the contents of the profile to the individual responsible for making the hiring decision. • Do not request log-in credentials. If businesses elect to use social media, they should stick to only information that is publicly available. Under almost no circumstances should a company require candidates or employees to disclose the user names, password or other log-in credentials associated with their personal social media accounts. ●
Shannon S. Pierce is an attorney with Fennemore Craig in Reno. Ms. Pierce has been representing management in the field of employment law and commercial litigation for more than a decade. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
a b h o a h s
i g i p t ( f c c d t e l
H e 1 a m e L o
t i i h t b
Change Happens By Thoran Towler
finally figured out how to stay in compliance with the latest employment laws and now you’re telling me they’re changing again?” Over the years I’ve had dozens of business owners ask me that question. I understand the frustration. You, as a business owner, manager, or HR professional, spend countless hours trying to understand a new statute or regulation relating to overtime, independent contractor status, or your other obligations as an employer. Once you believe you finally know what to do and how to stay within the boundaries of the law, you get an email or see a news blurb that tells you things are about to change. By now we have all seen the changes to Nevada’s independent contractor law. The struggle to create a set of guidelines to help determine whether a worker is truly an independent contractor or an employee has been an ongoing process in Nevada as well as other states for many years. During the last legislative session, the Nevada Legislature passed a bill (SB 224) that, among other things, attempts to create a uniform formula to determine whether a worker is an independent contractor or employee. Some of the factors that now must be considered include whether the worker: is free to establish the days and hours of his/her schedule; is substantially free from the control and direction of the principal; is not required to work exclusively for one principal; holds the appropriate business licenses; and whether the worker leases space or equipment. At the federal level, the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division recently issued some guidance on how to identify employees who are misclassified as independent contractors. In a 15-page “Administrator’s Interpretation,” the Department of Labor addressed what it perceives as a “serious problem” regarding the misclassification of employees as independent contractors, and explained that most workers qualify as employees under the Fair Labor Standards Act’s broad definition of employment regardless of any attempt to label them independent contractors. The Administrator’s Interpretation emphasized that the key to determining whether a worker is an employee or independent contractor under federal law is whether the worker is economically dependent on the employer or is in business for himself or herself. If the worker is economically dependent on the employer, then the worker is an employee. If the worker is in business for him or herself, then the worker is an independent contractor. However, the analysis does not stop there.
Thoran Towler practices labor and employment law at Allison MacKenzie Law Firm. Prior to joining Allison MacKenzie, Thoran served as the State of Nevada Labor Commissioner from 2011 through 2014. Thoran brings an expertise in the areas of wage and hour, labor and employment law, union issues, prevailing wage and public works. Thoran can be reached by email at email@example.com or by calling 775-687-0202.
The Administrator’s Interpretation also stated that a multifactor “economic realities” test should be used to guide the classification of workers. These factors typically will include: the extent to which the work performed is an integral part of the employer’s business; whether the worker’s opportunity for profit or loss is dependent on his or her managerial skill; the extent of the relative investments of the employer and the worker; whether the work performed requires special skill and initiative; the permanency of the relationship; and, the degree of control exercised or retained by the employer. The Administrator’s Interpretation explains that all of the factors should be given equal weight and should not be “analyzed mechanically or in a vacuum.” While the economic realities test is not new, the Department of Labor’s emphasis on all factors being equal is certainly a new way the federal government is applying the test. Pending any further independent contractor rules or court decisions, Nevada’s employers will need to continually assess all their working relationships to ensure compliance with the law. While it may be tempting to classify workers as independent contractors because of habit or industry practice, there is a lot to consider. To do a proper analysis, you need to have a working knowledge of all of the above referenced nuances of both Nevada law and federal law. You also need to know how to apply those factors to each independent contractor relationship you have. The above highlights some monumental changes to independent contractor law, but wait, there’s more! The Department of Labor recently announced a proposed rule that would extend overtime protections to approximately 5 million white-collar workers. Under the proposed rule, employees who earn as much as $970 a week, or $50,440 a year, would have to be paid overtime even if they’re classified as a manager or professional, and were previously exempt from overtime. Under current regulations, the salary threshold remains at $455 per week, or $23,660 a year, which is below the poverty level for a family of four. According to a fact sheet issued by the Obama administration, only 8 percent of full-time salaried workers fall below this threshold. The Department of Labor intends to increase the threshold annually to keep pace with inflation. As you can see, there are a lot of nuances and changes that employers are expected to follow. Instead of trying to be an expert on all areas of labor and employment law, an employer, manager, or HR professional may consider seeking out attorneys who understand complex federal and state employment laws and are able to keep up-to-date on any changes. You should develop your professional resources and utilize those resources to meet your needs. Don’t be afraid to say “I’m not an expert on labor and employment law, but I know the right people to call.” ●
Northern Nevada Business Weekly |
When the Dust Settled, Few Changes were Made to the Construction Industry in Nevada By Paul Georgeson
evada’s construction industry endured a few nail-biting moments during the 2015 legislative session. Many proposed laws could have affected the entire industry and construction projects throughout the State. However, when the dust settled, there were a relatively small number of bills that will have an impact on construction projects in Nevada. One of the most important of those bills, AB 125, focused on reforming residential construction defect statutes. However, that bill will only affect residential construction and does not make changes that apply to commercial construction projects – at least those without a residential component. There were a few commercial construction project bills that were passed into law, though none of them will have a dramatic effect on those types of projects. However, there are some bills that commercial owners, developers, and contractors should know. SB254 addresses the amount of retention that can be held from payments to contractors. Under current law, an owner is permitted to withhold up to 10 percent retention on payments to the general contractor. Then, the same 10 percent cap applies to payments from general contractors to subcontractors. Pursuant to SB254, that retention amount has been reduced to a maximum of 5 percent. The new law takes effect on January 1, 2016. Therefore, for any construction contract entered into after the date, the maximum retention amount is 5 percent. AB159 limits Project Labor Agreements. Traditionally, state and local government agencies had the ability to require project labor agreements on certain private construction projects. A project labor agreement requires that all contractors on the project have to pay prevailing wages (i.e., the same wages required on a public works project) to all construction workers. This typically means that either a union contractor must be used for the project or non-union contractors must enter into temporary agreements with the unions. Project labor agreements were commonly imposed when there is a public aspect of the project, such as when the government gives the developer tax rebates or other similar incentives. In northern Nevada, project labor agreements were used for projects such as the Aces Ballpark, one of the towers at the Sparks Nugget, and the Chalk Bluff Water Treatment Plant. AB159 prohibits public agencies from requiring project labor agreements on private projects. Under the new law, a public body is not permitted to require a contractor to adhere to a union agreement or project that is not paid for with public funds. Furthermore, the public body is not permitted to award any grant or tax abatement, a tax credit, or tax exemption that is conditioned upon a requirement that the recipient use a project labor agreement for constructing the project.
| Business Law Guide 2015
Existing law requires the owner of a project to obtain a permit from the director of the Department of Transportation before disturbing or digging up any state highway or right of way. Under SB324, there are additional requirements for discharges onto state highways or public right of ways. Now, the director of the Department of Transportation now has the authority to come onto the project to investigate the source of a discharge. The director can also issue an order of compliance to enforce the requirements of the discharge permit, seek injunctive relief in a court to enforce the requirements, and finally, impose a civil penalty of up to $25,000 per day for violations of the statute. While not technically a construction law bill, AB 160 will affect construction projects. Under the current Nevada law, an owner of a property has a general duty of reasonable care to people who may come on that property, even if they may be trespassing. The current law applies to construction sites, which can be both dangerous and are often attractive to children and others. Under AB 160, the owner of real property now owes no duty of care to a trespasser and is not liable to a trespasser for injury. This is true even if the owner failed to exercise reasonable care to make the premises reasonably safe. There are, however, some exceptions to this new standard. For instance, the property owner holder is still liable if it willfully or wantonly causes harm to a trespasser or fails to exercise reasonable care to prevent harm to the trespasser after they discover the trespasser’s presence. The owner may also be liable if the trespasser is a child who is injured by an “artificial condition” on the premises and if the owner knew or should have known that the property is dangerous to children, or that children are likely to trespass. The result is that there were no laws passed by the 2015 legislature that will significantly or fundamentally affect commercial construction projects. However, it is important to keep the new laws in mind when planning and moving forward on future projects. ●
Paul Georgeson is a partner at the Nevada law firm of McDonald Carano Wilson LLP. He is chairman of the firm’s construction law practice group and has been practicing construction law for over 20 years.
L AW TH AT L EA D S ®
R EA C H ES N EW H E I GHT S
FEARLESS REPRESENTATION. POWERFUL EXPERIENCE. THE WILL TO ACHIEVE. With the backing of nearly 200 attorneys, Fennemore Craig’s Reno office has 8 lawyers recognized as Best Lawyers in America®, 9 lawyers listed as Super Lawyers, 8 lawyers rated as AV lawyers by Martindale-Hubbell, 2 lawyers recommended in The Legal 500 US, and 8 lawyers recognized as “Legal Elite” by Nevada Business Magazine. Our attorneys are recognized in the following practice areas: • • • • • •
Government Affairs Employment & Labor Relations Gaming & Hospitality Real Estate Business & Finance Business Litigation
• • • • •
Bankruptcy, Creditors Rights & Restructuring Estate Planning & Probate Energy, Telecom & Utilities Aviation, Aerospace & Autonomous Systems Emerging Businesses & Technologies
In addition, Fennemore Craig now offers a Venture Accelerator Program that helps startups by providing easier access to legal services and help launching their enterprises. For strategic assistance getting to the top, please call Craig Etem, Reno Office Managing Partner, at 775.788.2224 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit us at FennemoreCraig.com.
Northern Nevada Business Weekly |
Understanding the Complexities of a Mechanic’s Lien By John Tennert
ontractors often invest significant time, labor and materials into a project before being paid and face considerable risk of not being paid. Nevada recognizes this vulnerability and to help ensure payment has created a sophisticated Mechanic’s Lien Law that grants contractors a lien on the real estate they have worked on. Establishing and enforcing a mechanic’s lien can be a complex exercise however. This article provides contractors, suppliers and property owners a brief introduction and high-level overview of Nevada’s mechanic’s lien law. 1. What is a mechanic’s lien? A mechanic’s lien may be acquired by someone who has provided work, material or services for construction or improvement to land. These special, statutory liens are in addition to any remedies that a contractor may seek on the underlying construction contract. Because mechanic’s liens are purely statutory, contractors and suppliers must strictly follow the requirements and comply with the deadlines set forth in the statute or risk losing their right to secure payment. 2. Who has a right to lien? Anyone who provides labor, services, materials or equipment with a value of $500 or more to be used in or for the construction, alteration or improvement of real estate has a potential mechanic’s lien on that property for the unpaid balance due under a contract or the value of the work performed. This includes artisans, builders, contractors, laborers, lessors of equipment and anyone who performs services as an architect, engineer, land surveyor or geologist. Although generally referred to as a “mechanic’s lien,” they are also commonly referred to as “construction liens” or “materialman’s liens.” If a license is required to perform the work, an unlicensed contractor or professional may not assert a mechanic’s lien, but may have other equitable or contractual remedies. 3. Creating and perfecting a mechanic’s lien. Under Nevada law, a potential mechanic’s lien arises as soon as the work is commenced on a project, but cannot be enforced until it is completed. To create a lien, a claimant must record a notice of lien in the County Recorder’s office of the county where the property is located within 90 days after the completion of the work or last delivery of materials or equipment — or 40 days after the property owner files a notice of completion in the county records. The notice of lien is prescribed by statute and must contain all the required information to be valid. The first thing that the owner’s counsel will do upon receiving notice of a recorded lien is examine whether the lien is timely. If not, the lien may be invalidated. The best practice for contractors and suppliers is to carefully monitor the deadline to record the lien. A properly recorded mechanic’s lien binds the property for six months. 4. What property does the mechanic’s lien attach to? A mechanic’s lien binds the property, any improvements for which the work, materials and equipment were furnished or to be furnished and any construction disbursement account.
| Business Law Guide 2015
The statutory definition of property is expansive and includes not only the land, but all buildings, improvements and fixtures as well as a “convenient space” around the property necessary for the use and occupation of the land. Once created, a mechanic’s lien has priority over all other liens, mortgages and other encumbrances that may have attached to the property after commencement of the construction. Because each mechanic’s lien that relates to a scheme of improvement relates back to the date that the work was first commenced and holds priority over subsequently recorded deeds of trust, construction lenders risk substantially impairing their security interests in the property if contractors go unpaid. 5. Contesting a frivolous or excessive mechanic’s lien. A recorded mechanic’s lien places a cloud on title and may trigger a default under the project owner’s agreements with its lender. If a property owner has reason to believe that a recorded notice of lien is frivolous or that the amount of the lien is excessive, the owner may apply to the district court for an order directing the lien claimant to appear before the court and prove the validity of its claim. If the court determines that the lien is frivolous or made without reasonable cause, the court will order the lien to be released and award the owner its fees and costs for bringing the action. If the court finds that the lien is excessive, the court may reduce the lien to an appropriate amount. 6. Enforcing a mechanic’s lien. The lien claimant may file an action to foreclose its mechanic’s lien within six months from the date that the notice of lien was recorded by filing a complaint in the proper court. Upon filing the complaint, the lien claimant must prepare a notice of foreclosure to be published in the newspaper in the county where the property is located and file a notice of the pending action with the county recorder. The court will adjudicate the liens on the property and order the property sold in satisfaction of all liens. The proceeds of the sale will be distributed to the lien claimants according to their priority. A prevailing lien claimant is entitled to its attorney’s fees, costs and interest on the lien amount. Enforcement of a mechanic’s lien does not affect the claimant’s right to maintain a separate action against the contracting party individually for breach of contract or other remedies. Nevada’s mechanic’s lien statutes are complex, can be confusing and, at times, subject to inconsistent interpretation. Whether you are negotiating a complex construction contract, seeking construction financing, or faced with a notice of lien on your property, it is wise to familiarize yourself with the relevant statutes or seek guidance from legal counsel. ●
John Tennert is an attorney in Fennemore Craig’s Reno office and a member of the firm’s Business Litigation Practice. He has represented clients in a variety of complex civil litigation, financial service and real estate matters. Reach him at email@example.com.
Congratulations to our 16 Reno lawyers selected by their peers for The Best Lawyers in America© 2016
Tim Lukas “Lawyer of the Year” Bankruptcy and Creditor Debtor Rights/ Insolvency and Reorganization Law Litigation - Bankruptcy
Soraya Tabibi Aguirre Trusts and Estates
Bryce Alstead Real Estate Law
Fritz Battcher Corporate Law
Karen Dennison Real Estate Law
Rick Elmore Commercial Litigation
Alex Flangas Commercial Litigation
Doug Flowers Real Estate Law
Megan Moschetti Fogarty Real Estate Law
David Garcia Corporate Law Venture Capital Law
Anthony Hall Labor Law - Management Labor Law - Union
Craig Howard Real Estate Law
Jim Newman Corporate Law Mergers & Acquisitions Law
Jeremy Nork Litigation - Construction Litigation - Real Estate
Steve Novacek Real Estate Law
Bob Ryan Litigation - Intellectual Property
Jim Newman, Administrative Partner 775.327.3000 | firstname.lastname@example.org 5441 Kietzke Lane, Second Floor Reno, NV 89511 Northern Nevada Business Weekly |
Law Firms Ranked by number of local attorneys RANK Firm Name
Website Office phone
No. Local States allowed to Legal Practice Areas Attorneys practice law No. Local Year founded locally Employees
Snell & Wilmer
50 W. Liberty St., Ste. swlaw.com 510 775-785-5440 Reno, NV 89501
Laxalt & Nomura, Ltd.
9600 Gateway Dr. Reno, NV 89521
Erickson Thorpe & Swainston, Ltd.
99 W. Arroyo St. Reno, NV 89509
50 West Liberty St., Ste. 700 Reno, NV 89501
Parsons Behle & Latimer
50 W. Liberty, Ste. 750 parsonsbehle.com Reno, NV 89501 775-323-1601
Fahrendorf Viloria Oliphant & Oster LLP Dyer Lawrence Law Firm Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck LLP
renonvlaw.com 775-348-9999 dyerlawrence.com 775-885-1896 bhfs.com 775-622-9450
9 25 8 13 8 15
Robertson, Johnson, Miller & Williamson
Alling & Jillson, Ltd.
327 California Ave. Reno, NV 89509 2805 Mountain St. Carson City, NV 89703 5371 Kietzke Ln. Reno, NV 89511 50 W. Liberty St., Ste. 600 Reno, NV 89501 276 Kingsbury Grade, Ste. 2000 Stateline, NV 89449 264 Village Boulevard, Ste. 104 Incline Village, NV 89451
administrative/regulatory, appellate, bankruptcy, buisness, business transactions, AZ, CA, NV, NY, TX, UT commercial and complex, construction, corporate, employee benefits/ERISA, employment and labor, energy, environmental, estate planning, gaming, 1949 government relations, intellectual property, large scale litigation, legislative/ lobbying, litigation, real estate, tax, water rights Attorneys licensed in administrative/regulatory, antitrust, appellate, bankruptcy, buisness, business every state except for: transactions, class action, commercial and complex, construction, corporate, AL, AR, CT, DE, GA, IN, employee benefits/ERISA, employment and labor, energy, entertainment/sports/ KY, LA, ME, MI, MS, NH, media and communications, environmental, estate planning, finance, government RI, SC, VT, WV relations, insurance, intellectual property, legislative/lobbying, litigation, mergers 1971 and acquisitions, patent, real estate, securities, tax, water rights administrative/regulatory, bankruptcy, buisness, business transactions, commercial and complex, construction, corporate, employee benefits/ERISA, CA, NV employment and labor, estate planning, family, finance, government relations, 1972 health care, insurance, litigation, mergers and acquisitions, personal injury, real estate, tax, water rights appellate, bankruptcy, buisness, business transactions, commercial and complex, construction, corporate, employee benefits/ERISA, employment and labor, energy, CA, NV environmental, estate planning, family, finance, intellectual property, large scale 1918 litigation, litigation, mergers and acquisitions, real estate, tax, water rights, trusts and trust administration; probate and probate litigation; transportation law administrative/regulatory, appellate, bankruptcy, buisness, business transactions, NV, AR, CO, CT, CA, UT, class action, commercial and complex, construction, corporate, employee benefits/ FL, GA, HI, IL, IN, KS, ERISA, employment and labor, energy, environmental, estate planning, finance, MA, MI, MN, MO, MT, gaming, government relations, health care, immigration, insurance, intellectual NE, NY, OH, OR, SC, TX, property, large scale litigation, legislative/lobbying, litigation, mergers and UT, VT, WA, DC, WY acquisitions, personal injury, patent, real estate, securities, tax, water rights, 1938 emerging businesses and technology, aviation aerospace and autonomous systems administrative/regulatory, buisness, business transactions, construction, corporate, 1978 employment and labor, energy, environmental, estate planning, family, government relations, health care, legislative/lobbying, real estate, water rights administrative/regulatory, antitrust, appellate, bankruptcy, buisness, business AZ, CA, CO, D.C., IL, KS, transactions, commercial and complex, construction, corporate, criminal, LA, MD, Michigan, MN, employment and labor, energy, environmental, finance, gaming, government MO, NV, NY, OR, PA, relations, health care, insurance, international trade, large scale litigation, TX, UT, VA, WI legislative/lobbying, litigation, mergers and acquisitions, personal injury, real 2010 estate, tax, water rights2 NV, CA, AZ, CO, KS, administrative/regulatory, appellate, buisness, commercial and complex, MO, IA construction, employment and labor, insurance, large scale litigation, litigation, 1986 personal injury CA buisness, construction, employment and labor, insurance, litigation, personal 1969 injury, real estate administrative/regulatory, appellate, bankruptcy, buisness, business transactions, class action, commercial and complex, construction, corporate, employment and AZ, CA, CT, NV, OR labor, energy, environmental, estate planning, gaming, government relations, large 2004 scale litigation, legislative/lobbying, litigation, mergers and acquisitions, real estate, water rights, land use/zoning administrative/regulatory, appellate, bankruptcy, buisness, business transactions, CA, NE, NV, UT commercial and complex, construction, corporate, energy, environmental, finance, 2005 insurance, large scale litigation, legislative/lobbying, litigation, mergers and acquisitions, personal injury, real estate, water rights CA, NV buisness, business transactions, construction, corporate, criminal, family, 1998 litigation, personal injury CA, GA, NV administrative/regulatory, appellate, buisness, business transactions, corporate, 1979 criminal, employment and labor, estate planning, family, real estate, water rights CA, NV administrative/regulatory, business transactions, government relations, intellectual 2009 property, legislative/lobbying, litigation, patent, tax buisness, business transactions, commercial and complex, corporate, AZ, CA, CO, IL environmental, large scale litigation, litigation, mergers and acquisitions, personal 1995 injury, real estate, water rights administrative/regulatory, buisness, business transactions, commercial and 2001 complex, entertainment/sports/media and communications, environmental, estate planning, gaming, litigation, mergers and acquisitions, real estate
CA, NV 1973
administrative/regulatory, buisness, business transactions, commercial and complex, construction, corporate, estate planning, family, large scale litigation, litigation, mergers and acquisitions, real estate, water rights
CA, NV 2005
administrative/regulatory, bankruptcy, buisness, business transactions, commercial and complex, construction, corporate, employee benefits/ERISA, employment and labor, environmental, finance, intellectual property, litigation, mergers and acquisitions, patent, real estate, securities, tax, water rights
McDonald Carano Wilson LLP
100 W. Liberty Street, mcdonaldcarano.com Ste. 1200 775-788-2000 Reno, NV 89501
Holland & Hart LLP
5441 Kietzke Ln., 2n Fl. Reno, NV 89511
Maupin Cox & LeGoy
4785 Caughlin Pkwy. Reno, NV 89519
Woodburn & Wedge
6100 Neil Rd., Ste. 500 Reno, NV 89511
300 E. Second St., Ste. fennemorecraig.com 1510 775-788-2200 Reno, NV 89501
402 N. Division St. allisonmackenzie.com Allison MacKenzie, Ltd. Carson City, NV 89703 775-687-0202
Incline Law Group LLP
Downey Brand Attorneys LLP
100 W. Liberty St., Ste. 900 Reno, NV 89501
1 In the first version of the survey, the question asking states in which at least one attorney from the firm is allowed to practice law was omitted. The question was added after some surveys were already completed. 2 Founded in 1938, Snell & Wilmer is a full-service business law firm with more than 400 attorneys practicing in nine locations throughout the western United States and in Mexico, including Las Vegas and Reno, Nevada; Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona; Los Angeles and Orange County, California; Denver, Colorado; Salt Lake City, Utah; and Los Cabos, Mexico. The firm represents clients ranging from large, publicly traded corporations to small businesses, individuals and entrepreneurs. For more information, visit swlaw.com.â€?
| Business Law Guide 2015
Law Firms Ranked by number of local attorneys RANK Firm Name
Website Office phone
No. Local States allowed Legal Practice Areas Attorneys to practice law No. Local Year founded Employees locally
100 W. Liberty St., Ste. 940 Dickinson Wright, PLLC Reno, NV 89501
AZ, CA, D.C., KY, KY, MI, NV, OH, TN 2015
Guild Gallagher & Fuller, 100 W. Liberty St., Ste. 800 Reno, NV 89501 Ltd.
CA, NV 1994
renotahoelaw.com 775-827-6440 gundersonlaw.com 775-829-1222 levertylaw.com 775-322-6636 marilynyork.net 775-324-7979 kalickicollier.com 775-852-2600 bymslaw.com 775-824-8833 nvwaterlaw.com 775-882-9900 msclawyers.com 775-322-3666
5 11 5 13 4 7 4 10 4 9 4 10 4 7 4 7
CA, NV 1978 CA, NV 1987 CA, NV, WA 1979
Hawkins, Folsom & Muir
5450 Longley Ln. Reno, NV 89511 3895 Warren Way Reno, NV 89509 832 Willow St. Reno, NV 89502 548 California Ave. Reno, NV 89509 401 Ryland St., Ste. 200 Reno, NV 89502 555 Double Eagle Ct., Ste. 200 Reno, NV 89521 108 N. Minnesota St. Carson City, NV 89703 10403 Double R Blvd Reno, NV 89521 179 S. Laverne St., PO Box 1203 Fallon, NV 89406 679 Sierra Rose Dr., Ste. A Reno, NV 89511
Walsh Baker & Rosevear, PC
Georgeson Angaran Gunderson Law Firm
Leverty & Associates Law Chartered Attorney Marilyn D. York
insurance, litigation buisness, business transactions, corporate, litigation, real estate class action, insurance, litigation, personal injury family
CA, NV 2005 CA, NV 1978 CA, NV 2007 CA, NV 2014
bankruptcy, business transactions, corporate, estate planning, family, litigation, patent, real estate
buisness, business transactions, corporate, estate planning, real estate, water rights, probate and trust administration, municipal administration
9468 Double R Blvd., Ste. A Reno, NV 89521
NV, CA, WA, OR 2002
Cavanaugh-Bill Law Offices
401 Railroad St. Ste 307 Elko, NV 89801
estate planning, trust and estate litigation; probate; guardianships; trust and estate administration administrative/regulatory, buisness, business transactions, commercial and complex, construction, corporate, employment and labor, estate planning, large scale litigation, litigation, real estate administrative/regulatory, appellate, civil and human rights, commercial and complex, criminal, employee benefits/ERISA, employment and labor, environmental, family, government relations, international human rights, legislative/lobbying, litigation, water rights
Thierman Buck LLP
7287 Lakeside Dr. Reno, NV 89511
5421 Kietzke Ln., Ste. 200 Kern & Associates, Ltd. Reno, NV 89511 4777 Caughlin Pkwy. Darby Law Practice Reno, NV 89519
kernltd.com 775-324-5930 darbylawpractice.com 775-322-1237
3 15 2 2
5421 Kietzke Ln. Drinkwater Law Offices Reno, NV 89511
Beckett Yott McCarty & Spann Taggart & Taggart, Ltd. Maddox, Segerblom & Canepa, LLP
appellate, bankruptcy, buisness, business transactions, civil and human rights, class action, commercial and complex, construction, corporate, criminal, intellectual property, large scale litigation, litigation, mergers and acquisitions, patent, real estate, securities administrative/regulatory, bankruptcy, buisness, business transactions, corporate, employment and labor, environmental, estate planning, gaming, intellectual property, litigation, real estate
Kalicki Collier, PLLC
Mackendon Erquiaga, P.C.
personal injury, workers comp administrative/regulatory, appellate, buisness, government relations, litigation, real estate, water rights buisness, class action, construction, litigation, personal injury, real estate, medical marijuana law
CA, NV and DC, 2nd, 8th, 9th & civil and human rights, class action, employee benefits/ERISA, employment 11th Circuit Ct of and labor, large scale litigation, almost $1 billion recovered for employees Appeals nationwide; see Oct. 27, 2007 BusinessWeek cover story 2002 bankruptcy, buisness, corporate, litigation, real estate, homeowners 2003 associations, condominiums, commercial associations, collections 2008
bankruptcy, individual and business chapter 7, 11 and 13 bankruptcy
buisness, business transactions, corporate, employment and labor, intellectual property, mergers and acquisitions, Trademark, copyright, new entity formation, registered agent services and sm. business employment
Reno Law Group, LLC
595 Humboldt St. Reno, NV 89509
CA, NV 2013
appellate, bankruptcy, civil and human rights, litigation, water rights
Dunlap & Laxalt Attorneys
537 Ralston St. Reno, NV 89503
CA, NV 1983
buisness, business transactions, civil and human rights, class action, construction, criminal, entertainment/sports/media and communications, health care, insurance, large scale litigation, litigation, personal injury
rsgnvlaw.com 775-827-6464 smithandharmer.com 7758833200
2 4 2 4
NV, UT 1997 NV 1975
9498 Double R Blvd., Ste. A Rands, South & Gardner Reno, NV 89521 502 N. Division Street Smith and Harmer, Ltd. Carson City, NV 89703 Kent Law Lee & High, Ltd. Wayne A. Pederson, Esq. Larry K. Dunn & Associates Attorneys at Law Kidwell & Gallagher, Ltd. Law Office of Karen L. Winters Rosenauer & Wallace
201 Weat Liberty St., Ste. 320 skentlaw.com Reno, NV 89501 775-324-9800
employment and labor, insurance, personal injury corporate, estate planning, real estate, water rights, contracts, trusts, mining administrative/regulatory, appellate, buisness, class action, construction, corporate, insurance, large scale litigation, litigation, personal injury, real estate, full service civil litigation law firm
448 Ridge Street Reno, NV 89501 107 N. Main Street Yerington, NV 89447
lee-high.com 775-324-1011 waynepedersonlaw 775-463-3227
2 4 2 6
NV, OR, DC, MD 2003 NV 1994
1188 California Ave. Reno , NV 89509
criminal, DUI defense, drug offenses, felonies, misdemeanor, driver's license revocations, domestic battery
790 Commercial St. Elko, NV 89801 1594 Mono Ave., P.O. Box 1987 Minden, NV 89423 510 W Plumb Ln., Ste. A Reno, NV 89509
personal injury, workers' compensation
CA, NV 1996
administrative/regulatory, buisness, employment and labor, estate planning, family, elder law
buisness, estate planning, litigation, probate and trust administration; estate, trust, and fiduciary litigation buisness, business transactions, commercial and complex, corporate, energy, environmental, litigation, personal injury, real estate, water rights, Mining, natural resources and geothermal
241 Ridge Street, Ste. 210 Erwin & Thompson LLP Reno, NV 89501
appellate, bankruptcy, buisness, family, immigration criminal, estate planning, family, litigation, personal injury
Northern Nevada Business Weekly |
18197 Spruce Lake Ct. Reno, NV 89508
CA, NV 2015
civil and human rights, criminal, employment and labor, family, insurance, personal injury
Data shown was submitted via NNBW survey. Other companies were contacted but either declined to respond, provided inadequate information or did not respond by press time. Please send additions & corrections to email@example.com. Sign up for the NNBW Book of Lists Package to view each list in an excel format with additional information that we could not fit in on the print version. Visit www.nnbw.com for more details.
Law Firms Ranked by number of local attorneys RANK Firm Name
Website Office phone
No. Local Attorneys No. Local Employees
States allowed Legal Practice Areas to practice law Year founded locally
15 West Main St. Dayton, NV 89403 232 Court St. Bader & Ryan, Ltd. Reno, NV 89501 200 S. Virginia St., 8th Fl. Law Office of Harold C. Comanse Reno, NV 89501 4747 Caughlin Pkwy., Ste. 7 Malikowski Law Offices, Ltd. Reno, NV 89519 Law Office of J. Robert Parke, 6490 S. McCarran Blvd., Ste. B15 Reno, NV 89509 LLC 575 Mill St. Law Offices of Kurt A. Franke Reno, NV 89502 327 Marsh Ave. Law Offices of Richard W. Young Reno, NV 89509 Steven J. Klearman & Associates 437 W. Plumb Ln. Reno, NV 89509 Attorneys at Law 335 W. 1st St. White Law Chartered Reno, NV 89503 10580 N. McCarran Blvd #115-382, Jensen Law Group, LTD Reno, NV 89503 Kevin Bertonneau, Attorney at 675 Sierra Rose Dr., Ste. 110 Reno, NV 89511 Law 712 E. Musser Street Law Offices of Allison W. Joffee Carson city, NV 89701 Thomas A Collins, Attorney at 410 California Ave. Reno, NV 89509 Law 2310 South Carson St., Ste. 6 Matuska Law Offices, Ltd. Carson City, NV 89701
lawofficesofkennethvward 775-246-7721 BaderandRyan.com 775-322-5000 comanselaw.com 775-686-2442 nvlaw.com 775-786-0758 RenoEstateAndTrustLawyer.com 775-786-5046 lokaf.com 775-827-6100 richardwyoung.com 775-322-9477 nevadainjuries.com 775-600-0000 whitelawchartered.com 775-322-8000 jensenlawgroup-reno.com 775-624-5751 kbertlaw.com 775-737-9123 allisonjoffee.com 775-883-3300 thomasacollins.com 775-322-6648 matuskalawoffices.com 775-350-7220
2 4 2 6 1 3 1 2 1 1 1 3 1 2 1 5 1 3 1 1 1 1 1 4 1 2 1 3
NV 1989 NV 1999
buisness, business transactions, corporate, estate planning, family, litigation, real estate
The Law Offices of Jonathan King
429 Marsh Ave. Reno, NV 89509
CA, NV 1982
corporate, litigation, real estate, water rights, HOAs, probate, mediation and arbitration appellate, buisness, business transactions, construction, criminal, estate planning, family, litigation, personal injury, real estate
226 Hill St. Reno, NV 89501 974 5th St. Elko, NV 89801 200 Ridge St., Ste. 222 Reno, NV 89501 1941 Rolling Brook Reno, NV 89519 611 Sierra Rose Dr., Ste. A Reno, NV 89511
lumkeslaw.com 775-324-4340 bradshawlawnv.com 775-738-7444 personalinjurynevada.com 775-337-1444 Keithleepublicaffairs.com 775-742-5058 swilsonlaw.net 775-322-8886
1 3 1 3 1 3 1 2 1 1
CA, NV 1985 NV 2013 NV 1995 NV 10 CA, NV 1991
510 West Plumb Ln., Ste. B Reno, NV 89509
estate planning, trust and estate litigation, probate
203 S. Arlington Ave. Reno, NV 89501 223 Marsh Ave. Reno, NV 89509 711 Jones St. Reno, NV 89503 720 Tahoe St., Ste. B Reno, NV 89509
springgatelaw.com 775-323-8881 NevadaLicenseLawyer.com 775-825-2223 ngilbertlaw.com 775-322-1119 tlqonline.com 775-333-6633
1 2 1 1 1 2 1 2
NV, US Dist. Ct. 1990
criminal, family, personal injury
administrative/regulatory, Social Security disability
NV, OR, TX 1986 NV 2006
buisness, business transactions, commercial and complex, construction, insurance, personal injury buisness, business transactions, class action, criminal, estate planning, personal injury, real estate,
595 Humboldt St. Reno, NV 89509
bankruptcy, personal injury, debt negotiations
jamiehenrylaw.com 775-324-0362 suttonhague.com 775-284-2770 geoffreyroullardlaw 775-883-1006 carsontrialattorney.com 775-885-8398 fielderlawltd.com 775-224-2666 gloriapetronilaw.com 775-420-4221 actionlegal.com 775-786-9993 telos-investigations.com 530-558-9650
1 1 1 2 1 2 1 3 1 1 1 3 1 2 0 1
NV 2012 CA, NV, NY 2011
criminal, family, mediation
Law Offices of Kenneth V. Ward
Bradshaw Law LLC Eric A. Stovall, Ltd. Law Offices of Keith L. Lee Sandra O. Wilson, Attorney at Law J. Douglas Clark, Attorney at Law, Ltd. Law Offices of John P. Springgate Hal Taylor - Attorney At Law Law Offices of Nancy Gilbert Law Office of Thomas L Qualls, Ltd. Law Offices of William D. Cope LLP The Law Office of Jamie C. Henry Law, Prof. LLC
335 West First Street Reno, NV 89503 9600 Gateway Dr., Ste. 100 Sutton Hague Law Corporation Reno, NV 89521 Geoffrey Roullard Attorney At 321 N. Walsh St. Carson City, NV 89701 Law 1601 Fairview Dr., Ste. C Day Williams, Attorney at Law Carson City, NV 89701 4320 Ross Dr. Fielder Law Ltd. Reno, NV 89519 555 South Center St. Petroni Law Group Reno, NV 89501 Law Office Of Nathan R. Zeltzer/ 12 W. Taylor St. Reno, NV 89509 Action Legal Services 18197 Spruce Lake Ct. Telos Investigations Reno, NV 89508
bankruptcy, criminal, estate planning, family, personal injury
CA, NV 1979 NV 2000 CA, NV DND CA, NV 1975 NV 2005
estate planning, litigation, personal injury, real estate buisness, business transactions, corporate, estate planning, real estate, tax buisness, business transactions, corporate, personal injury criminal, family, personal injury
buisness, construction, corporate, estate planning, health care, insurance, litigation, real estate
criminal, family, juvenile litigation, personal injury insurance, litigation, personal injury, adoption and surrogacy gaming, government relations, legislative/lobbying corporate, estate planning, real estate, probate, trusts
buisness, class action, employment and labor, litigation
estate planning, family, personal injury, workman's comp, social security disability
civil and human rights, estate planning, personal injury
CA 2015 NV 2013 CA, NV 2003 CA, NV 2015
business transactions, real estate estate planning, family bankruptcy, estate planning, personal injury, consumer law civil and human rights, criminal, employment and labor, family, insurance, personal injury, law investigations
Data shown was submitted via NNBW survey. Other companies were contacted but either declined to respond, provided inadequate information or did not respond by press time. Please send additions & corrections to firstname.lastname@example.org. Sign up for the NNBW Book of Lists Package to view each list in an excel format with additional information that we could not fit in on the print version. Visit nnbw.com for more details.
| Business Law Guide 2015
Watson Rounds Presents: Fables of Law
The Crow and the Duck.
Crow, dying of thirst, happened upon a pitcher of water. Alas, the water was so low that the Crow could not reach it. Having gathered all the rocks he could find, he dropped them into the pitcher, until the water had risen enough to drink. Upon passing by, a Duck saw this technique and attempted to later claim it as his own.
Thankfully, the Crow relied upon Watson Rounds to protect and enforce his ideas. And so, the unethical Duck was thwarted. The Crow looked upon him with a discerning eye as he said, “True wit always has an answer.”
The moral of the story: always go with Watson Rounds.
intellectual property and business litigation
ATTORNEYS AT LAW RENO • LAS VEGAS • SAN FRANCISCO
Northern Nevada Business Weekly |
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