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Author Archives Smith, McDowell & Powell

SMP Supports Small Businesses Dreaming Big!

Small Businesses, Big Dreams

When small businesses succeed, entire communities benefit.  From the small locally-owned coffee shop on the corner, to the growing marketing agency down the street, every successful business brings employment opportunities, revenue and the community-minded spirit Sacramento is known for.  This is why Smith, McDowell & Powell is proud to sponsor the Downtown Sacramento Foundation’s Calling All Dreamers Competition for the second year in a row.  This competition opens doors for local businesses that are eager to succeed by offering the grand-prize winner a start-up package worth approximately $100,000.00.  Entries are being accepted until March 29th, to learn more about the contest and previous year’s semi-finalists and winners, click here.  As always, the attorneys at SMP are available to answer any questions regarding establishing your small business and helping you realize your own dreams, however big they may be!


  Smith, McDowell & Powell   Mar 23, 2016   Blog, Small Business   Comments Off on SMP Supports Small Businesses Dreaming Big!   Read More

Short-Term Rentals Prompt Long-Term Regulations


Spring Break is just around the corner, and many travelers are taking advantage of online booking sites such as Airbnb and VRBO, which allow homeowners to lease their properties or individual rooms to guests for short-term stays.  With the increase of popularity of these home-sharing vacation sites, cities have begun to address concerns by implementing new regulations.

In January, Sacramento City Council unanimously approved two ordinances regarding short-term rental services wherein property owners wishing to rent their homes or portions of their homes no longer need to apply for a Conditional Use Permit (which costs approximately $5,000.00).  Instead, they need only pay for a Business Operations Tax Certificate and Transient Occupancy Tax which is 12% of the regular room charge.  Also included in the ordinance, was a cap on the number of guests and duration of stays; six guests at a time and no more than 90 days of rentals annually.  All homeowners participating in these short-term rental services must keep a log of their guests and refer to their homeowners association for any further issues that may arise.

As always, the attorneys at Smith, McDowell & Powell are well-versed on real estate and property issues, so if you are looking to use your home as a place for tourists to crash for spring break, we are here to answer any questions you may have!  For further reading on the city council’s decision, click here.

  Smith, McDowell & Powell   Mar 04, 2016   Blog   Comments Off on Short-Term Rentals Prompt Long-Term Regulations   Read More

SMP Law Clerk Wins Regional Round of 66th Annual Moot Court Competition

Smith, McDowell & Powell law clerk Kimberly Van Spronsen, as a member of the McGeorge Moot Court Honors Board, recently won the Northern California Regional Competition of the New York National Moot Court 66th Annual Competition, and will compete in the national tournament hosted by the New York Bar Association in February 2016.

The qualifying competition was held November 13-14, 2015, at University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law. However, the work truly began in October as the teams received the issue, which involved alleged illegal insider trading. The teams spent weeks researching and writing a persuasive brief that was submitted to a panel of judges. After these briefs were graded, the teams gathered at McGeorge to participate in simulated court proceedings, where the oral arguments were presented to a panel of three or four judges.

Kimberly Van Spronsen, along with co-counsel Jenifer Gee, advanced to the semi-finals, having been seeded in first place after their combined brief score and first round wins against UC Berkeley and UC Davis. The pair went on to prevail against UC Hastings in the semi-final rounds and ultimately won the final round against another team of advocates from McGeorge. Winning the regional rounds in the two-tiered competition, the team now advances to compete nationally in New York City.

The entire team at SMP would like to congratulate Van Spronsen for her success and wish her the best of luck as she prepares for the national competition.  For further reading on the competition and the finalists, click here.


  Smith, McDowell & Powell   Nov 24, 2015   Blog   Comments Off on SMP Law Clerk Wins Regional Round of 66th Annual Moot Court Competition   Read More

SMP Named “Best of the Bar” and “Top Lawyers” for Sacramento


Jaclyn Powell Named “Best of the Bar”

Sacramento Business Journal just released their third annual “Best of the Bar” list, and Smith, McDowell & Powell is proud to announce that Jaclyn Powell was named as one of the best attorneys in Sacramento.  The nominations for this list are made by other lawyers and firms in the area, and the nominees are then vetted by a peer-review panel of 30-well-known and highly respected attorneys.  What results is a compilation of local attorneys who are respected by the legal community and who are admired and applauded for their professional accomplishments.  To be singled out as an outstanding attorney in her field of practice by her peers is an honor and Powell is thankful to everyone who considered her nomination and congratulates all of the other attorneys who made this year’s list.  To read more about the process and other nominees (and to find out what Jaclyn’s favorite legal movie is), check out the full article here.

If you were wondering what the other members of SMP were up to lately, Sacramento Magazine just named all three partners of Smith, McDowell & Powell as “Top Lawyers for 2015.”  In yet another peer-based research survey, C. Jason Smith, Brad McDowell and Jaclyn Powell were all selected as outstanding attorneys in their fields and can be found in the August issue of Sacramento Magazine, listed as Top Lawyers in Business and Corporate Law.  Congratulations to all of the partners at SMP for their dedication and continued recognition.

  Smith, McDowell & Powell   Sep 11, 2015   Blog   Comments Off on SMP Named “Best of the Bar” and “Top Lawyers” for Sacramento   Read More

SMP Law Clerk Assists in Major Win in Denial of Care Case

Smith, McDowell & Powell law clerk Kimberly Van Spronsen, and fellow law school students Aaron Claxton and Rick Lebherz, contributed arguments and research to help reverse a decision wherein healthcare costs had been denied to a Medicare patient for treatment for a brain tumor.

During her recent fall semester at McGeorge School of Law, Kimberly interned with its Elder & Health Law Clinic, where she had the opportunity to help represent the family of a deceased individual who had been previously denied coverage for Grade IV Glioblastoma (a highly aggressive brain tumor) treatment.  The patient underwent craniotomy surgery which successfully removed almost 100% of the tumor, but Medicare refused to reimburse the cost, asserting that it was an out-of-plan-service.  A year later, the patient passed away and an appeal was made by his estate to reverse the decision of denying coverage.

Through diligent research and hard work, Kimberly helped prepare an argument which would support one of the estate’s assertions that the procedure was specialized and therefore qualified for coverage.  McGeorge MSL (Masters of Science in Law) student, Patrick Browning, MD worked with the team as well, providing expert witness testimony, which was heard when the case was brought before an administrative judge.  The judge heard from both sides and considered the evidence and briefs submitted, before releasing his opinion that the decision to deny coverage should be reversed.  “It was rewarding to see a favorable result for our clients, after having worked so hard,” Van Spronsen said when asked about her work on this issue.

Everyone at Smith, McDowell & Powell are proud to work alongside Van Spronsen, and to witness what is surely the start of a long and successful career.  Click here to read more about the work performed by the McGeorge Legal Clinics, which have been helping members of the community since 1964.

  Smith, McDowell & Powell   Aug 06, 2015   Blog   Comments Off on SMP Law Clerk Assists in Major Win in Denial of Care Case   Read More

McDowell to Join the Blue Line Arts Board of Directors

Brad McDowell to Join the Blue Line Arts Board of Directors

Brad McDowell was recently appointed to serve on the Board of Directors of Blue Line Arts, a non-profit organization in South Placer dedicated to supporting the arts. For 45 years, this treasured community resource has been showcasing regional and national artists, as well as providing education for children and young adults by offering art classes, guided gallery tours and volunteer opportunities.   McDowell is honored to have been selected for this board and has been a strong admirer and patron of the arts for many years.  Click here for more information about Blue Line Arts, and to view featured artists and their extraordinary collections.

  Smith, McDowell & Powell   Jul 30, 2015   Blog   Comments Off on McDowell to Join the Blue Line Arts Board of Directors   Read More

Jason Smith and Jaclyn Powell “Rising” Above

Super Lawyers Magazine has just released their list of Northern California’s “Rising Stars” for 2015 and Smith, McDowell & Powell is proud to announce that Jason Smith and Jaclyn Powell have both been named on this prestigious list. The selection procedure uses a patented multiphase process which includes conducting statewide surveys, independent research and analyzing peer reviews, resulting in no more than 2.5 percent of attorneys being chosen from over 70 practice areas. This is Jason Smith’s third consecutive year to be selected, the second year in a row for Jaclyn Powell, and both are honored to be named among some of the most respected and hardest working attorneys in Northern California. Brad McDowell was recognized for 2013 and 2014, and the entire team at SMP would like to offer congratulations to all the attorneys who made the list. For more information about Super Lawyers, visit SuperLawyers.com, and make sure to pick up the August issue of Northern California Super Lawyers Magazine to read about the selection process and the other exceptional “Rising Stars” in the legal industry.


  Smith, McDowell & Powell   Jul 16, 2015   Blog   Comments Off on Jason Smith and Jaclyn Powell “Rising” Above   Read More

Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act: New Sick-Leave Benefits Have Begun

Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act: New Sick-Leave Benefits Have Begun

Sick-leave benefits have now been extended to millions of California workers. “The Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014,” (AB1522) was signed in September by Governor Brown and will greatly impact the way many working parents and lower-income families and individuals cope with the impending cold and flu season. In turn, this means a great deal of new requirements for business owners, such as properly distributing notices to all employees.

In essence, the bill states that by allowing part-time workers to accrue paid sick-leave, not only will these individuals be able to recover from illnesses properly, but they will also be able to attend to the needs of sick loved ones (i.e., children or elderly parents).  By encouraging designated recovery time without the threat of losing income, workplaces will become more productive and, ideally, healthier.

With this new legislation, new policies go into effect, so whether you are an employer or employee, here are five things you should be aware of:

  1. Beginning July 1, 2015, California employees will start accruing paid time off at a rate of one hour of sick leave per 30 hours worked, up to a minimum of three days, or 24 hours, per year;
  2. Employers must include information regarding the amount of sick leave available on each employee’s paystub or in an attached document;
  3. Employers must comply with additional notice requirements upon hiring new employees;
  4. Employers may be penalized for firing or demoting employees within 30 days of a sick leave dispute filed with the Labor Commissioner; and
  5. Compensation for unused sick pay accrued pursuant to AB 1522 is generally not required after termination of employment.

For further reading on the new requirements, click here. As always, whether you need assistance with preparation of employee handbooks, employment agreements, or should you have questions regarding this legislation and how it will impact you, the attorneys at Smith, McDowell & Powell are here to help guide you through these changes.

  Smith, McDowell & Powell   Jul 02, 2015   Blog   Comments Off on Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act: New Sick-Leave Benefits Have Begun   Read More

Summer Internship Programs: What You Need to Know

Summer Internship Programs: What You Need to Know

Summer is in full-swing, and many local businesses are offering summer internship positions within their companies.  Internships have many benefits to both intern and employer; the intern gains valuable experience and knowledge in their chosen field of study, and companies with sought-after internship programs are more likely to stay competitive in local hiring markets as well as foster growth and new ideas.  What companies may not be aware of, however, is the fact that not all internship programs should necessarily be “free,” or unpaid programs.  In fact, the Department of Labor strictly defines the parameters of hiring unpaid interns as follows:

  1. The internship, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar to training which would be given in an educational environment;
  2. The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern;
  3. The intern does not displace regular employees, but works under close supervision of existing staff;
  4. The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern; and on occasion its operations may actually be impeded;
  5. The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship; and
  6. The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship.

In short, unpaid internship programs should be restricted only to those companies willing to lose productivity for the sole purpose of training and mentoring a student in their industry.  The gain may not be monetary, but sharing your knowledge and craft with an intern could be very rewarding in other ways. Those companies wishing to boost employee output and increase profitability during these months may consider offering a paid internship programs, thus meeting all federal requirements pertaining to the hiring of employees.  As always, the attorneys at SMP have a great deal of expertise when it comes to structuring your business needs and answering any questions regarding the liability of hiring employees, whether paid or unpaid.  For more information on the Department of Labor’s requirements for unpaid internship programs, click here.

  Smith, McDowell & Powell   Jun 16, 2015   Blog   Comments Off on Summer Internship Programs: What You Need to Know   Read More

McDowell Appointed to SCUSD Bond Oversight Committee

Brad McDowell Appointed to the SCUSD Bond Oversight Committee

On March 19, Brad McDowell of Smith, McDowell and Powell was appointed to be a member of the Sacramento City Unified School District Bond Oversight Committee.  As selected by the SCUSD School Board, the BOC provides civilian oversight of money designated for the construction, repair, and modernization of schools by the district.  The BOC communicates its findings to the Board and the public in order to ensure that school bond funds are invested as the voters intended and that projects are completes wisely and efficiently.  As a father of two children enrolled (and soon-to-be enrolled) within the SCUSD school system, Brad relishes this opportunity to take part in the educations of his children and all of those in the district.

To find out more, visit this page on the Sacramento City Unified School District’s website.

  Smith, McDowell & Powell   Mar 26, 2015   Blog   Comments Off on McDowell Appointed to SCUSD Bond Oversight Committee   Read More