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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

March Madness: Office Pools Better Left a Spectator Sport for Employers

March Madness: Office Pools Better Left a Spectator Sport for Employers

You don’t have to be a fan of collegiate basketball to know that over the next few weeks, sixty-eight NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball teams will compete in a knockout-style tournament most commonly referred to as “March Madness.” To the victors, go the elite honor of being crowned “NCAA Champions,” and to the millions of people who wager on the games, the privilege of participating in a fast growing tradition – office brackets. However, at what cost?

Various sources estimate companies will lose more than $1.0 billion per business hour during the first week of the annual tournament. Further, depending on the structure of the betting, and the particular region in question, many participants may unknowingly violate state and/or federal law. While regulations vary by state, many jurisdictions have enacted legal exceptions allowing tournament pools to proceed as long as the maximum payout is relatively small and each participant pays the same fee and has the same chances of winning. Consequently, although no bracket betting is void of potential illegality, the more cautious gamblers should, at a minimum, avoid online and high dollar pools and ensure that each participant pays the same fee and has the same odds of winning. Pool organizers should also avoid receipt of any profit or fee for their efforts.

Regardless, while most businesses will inevitably suffer a loss in productivity over the coming days, legal experts agree employers should avoid organizing pools for their staff. Despite the fun likely to be had by all, individuals and entities that organize and administer office pools face a far greater risk of legal repercussions for unlawful gambling activities. While it is unlikely criminal charges will occur, the risks do not outweigh the benefits. As a result, from an owner and/or employer perspective, March Madness is better left as a spectator sport.

  Smith, McDowell & Powell   Mar 18, 2015   Blog   Comments Off on March Madness: Office Pools Better Left a Spectator Sport for Employers   Read More

West Sacramento Educational Foundation’s “Bowling for Schools” Fundraiser

West Sacramento Educational Foundation Hosts “Bowling for Schools” Fundraiser

This Friday, the West Sacramento Educational Foundation (WSEF) is hosting a “Bowling for Schools” fundraiser at Capitol Bowl in West Sacramento.  Since incorporating in 2005,WSEF has given nearly $130,000.00 in grants to West Sacramento schools.  The grants issued in 2013 and 2014 were used for literacy projects, field trips, garden programs, math programs, and musical equipment, among other things.   The team of Smith McDowell & Powell will be there, ready to bowl and compete against other local organizations, to support this great cause.  We also encourage other community members to do the same by registering their team of five players here.  A donation of $125 qualifies a team for two games, anytime between 2pm and 8pm, with the main event and awards ceremony occurring in the evening.  WSEF is an education-based 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization so not only will your donation go to a great cause, but it is tax-deductible, as well!

  Smith, McDowell & Powell   Mar 12, 2015   Blog   Comments Off on West Sacramento Educational Foundation’s “Bowling for Schools” Fundraiser   Read More

Oscar-Worthy Suits

Oscar-Worthy Suits

This Sunday, as you grab your popcorn and head to the sofa to admire the glamour of Hollywood play out at the 87th Annual Academy Awards, keep in mind that Oscar winners are not only guaranteed record box-office-earnings for years to come, but are more likely to be involved in serious litigation, as well. There seems to be no greater stage for Intellectual Property and Copyright Disputes than in Hollywood; with the allure of big studio dollars and the inevitable existence of similar ideas, the simple act of having a well-drawn contract with specific language is what offers the most protection. Though your company may not employ Meryl Streep or Benedict Cumberbatch, you should also have properly drafted contracts in place to protect yourself from those box-office-sized lawsuits, so keep in mind our attorneys are here to answer any questions you may have!

For an entertaining read on some of the most popular Oscar-worthy suits of all time, see this article published by Trademark and Copyright Law Blog.

  Smith, McDowell & Powell   Feb 20, 2015   Blog   Comments Off on Oscar-Worthy Suits   Read More

Smith, McDowell & Powell Welcomes Associate Attorney C. Justin Cutler

Smith, McDowell & Powell Welcomes Associate Attorney C. Justin Cutler

Smith, McDowell & Powell is proud to announce the addition of C. Justin Cutler as its newest associate attorney. Justin graduated with distinction from UOP-McGeorge School of Law in 2014, where he was an honors board member for McGeorge’s Moot Court team, Secretary of the J. Reuben Clark Law Society, admitted to the Roger J. Traynor Honor Society for academic excellence and served as a judicial extern to the Honorable Dale A. Kimball. Justin has clerked with SMP since February 2013 and will continue to assist the firm in both commercial litigation and transactions.

You can check out Justin’s full bio here: C. Justin Cutler

  Smith, McDowell & Powell   Dec 17, 2014   Blog   Comments Off on Smith, McDowell & Powell Welcomes Associate Attorney C. Justin Cutler   Read More

California’s New Regulations Regarding Sick Leave

California’s New Regulations Regarding Sick Leave

On September 10, 2014, California Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 1522, which extends sick leave benefits to millions of California workers. As a result, employers should be aware of the following:

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 on 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 AB 1522 is generally not required after termination.

Although these changes do not take effect until July 2015, it would be prudent to take appropriate steps to prepare. The attorneys at Smith, McDowell & Powell are experienced in employment law and can assist with compliance. In fact, if you need help regarding safe employment practices, wage and hour issues, preparation of employee handbooks and/or policies, employment agreements, general counsel, or representation in an employment dispute, please do not hesitate to contact our office.

  Smith, McDowell & Powell   Nov 12, 2014   Blog   Comments Off on California’s New Regulations Regarding Sick Leave   Read More

Powell Moderates Candidates Forum

Powell Moderates Candidates Forum

The West Sacramento Chamber of Commerce held its Candidates Forum on October 6, 2014 for the upcoming election. For the second year, SMP attorney Jaclyn Powell was asked to moderate the forum which provided each slate of candidates an opportunity to engage in political discussion, answer questions about their platform, and discuss key issues affecting West Sacramento.

Many West Sacramento residents and community leaders were present this year to watch Councilmember Mark Johannessen, Councilmember Christopher Ledesma, and Jeff Lyon participate in the City Council forum; Norma Alcala, Sarah Kirby-Gonzales and Joshua R. Alves participate in the School Board forum; and Mayor Christopher Cabaldon and Narinder Pal Singh Hundal participate in the Mayoral forum. Topics addressed included identifying the appropriate balance between attracting new businesses to West Sacramento and supporting existing local businesses, the advantages and disadvantages of future council members representing districts, and new funding mechanisms for WUSD.

The debate is airing now on Channel 20 at 9AM and 9PM every day. It can also be viewed on the City of West Sacramento website, here:



  Smith, McDowell & Powell   Oct 16, 2014   Blog   Comments Off on Powell Moderates Candidates Forum   Read More

Super Lawyers Magazine Names Jason Smith, Brad McDowell and Jaclyn Powell 2014 “Rising Stars”

Super Lawyers Magazine Names Jason Smith, Brad McDowell and Jaclyn Powell 2014 “Rising Stars”

Smith, McDowell & Powell is proud to announce that Jason Smith, Brad McDowell and Jaclyn Powell have each been selected as 2014 “Northern California Rising Stars” by Super Lawyers Magazine. The annual Super Lawyers list recognizes outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high-degree of peer recognition and professional achievement.  The patent protected selection process is multi-phased and includes independent research, peer nominations and peer evaluations.  No more than 2.5 percent of lawyers in California are named “Rising Stars” each year.  This marks the second consecutive year that Jason Smith and Brad McDowell have been honored with this designation.

Congrats to Jason, Brad, Jaclyn and all other attorneys appearing in the July 2014 issue of Northern California Super Lawyers Magazine for their achievements.

  Smith, McDowell & Powell   Jul 09, 2014   Blog   Comments Off on Super Lawyers Magazine Names Jason Smith, Brad McDowell and Jaclyn Powell 2014 “Rising Stars”   Read More

Smith McDowell & Powell Attorneys Give Back

On April 26, 2014, Jaclyn Powell took part in the Annual Rotary Work Day.  Powell rolled up her sleeves, slapped on some gloves and joined her fellow Rotarians in West Sacramento, planting trees alongside representatives from the City of West Sacramento.

The following day, Jason Smith and Brad McDowell found their own way to give back to the community – by wearing high heels.  Smith and McDowell raced in the Annual Walk A Mile In Her Shoes benefiting the Sacramento area WEAVE, a 24 hour service for victims of sexual assault and domestic violence.  A good time was had by all but rest assured that no photographic evidence of Smith or McDowell’s participation will continue to exist.  SMP thanks all donors who helped their team raise over $10,000 to end violence in our community!

  Smith, McDowell & Powell   May 08, 2014   Blog   Comments Off on Smith McDowell & Powell Attorneys Give Back   Read More