Emilee N. Sutton Joins Allison MacKenzie law firm as Associate Attorney

Allison MacKenzie Law Firm is pleased to welcome their newest associate attorney, Emilee N. Sutton. Emilee joined the firm on August 27, 2018 and will focus her practice on Administrative Law, Business Law, Probate, and Litigation. She is a former law clerk for the Honorable Lynne K. Simons at the Second Judicial District Court in Reno, and extern to the Honorable Howard D. McKibben, U.S. District Court, District of Nevada.

A California native, Emilee double majored in political science and history at the University of California in San Diego. Upon graduation she obtained her law degree from the University of Texas School of Law in 2017. She was admitted to practice in Nevada and the U.S. District Court, District of Nevada in 2017.

“Allison MacKenzie Law Firm is highly regarded by legal professionals throughout Nevada. Their professionalism and commitment to the community is unsurpassed. I couldn’t be prouder of my new position with such a well-respected and community-minded law firm,” Emilee commented.

Emilee was exposed to legal proceedings as a young child and was intrigued by the processes and complexities of the law. Emilee’s mother was a court reporter in Southern California, and it was here that Emilee “grew up.” She spent many days after school and during summer vacations watching court proceedings, learning from judges, and helping her mother prepare and proofread transcripts. Emilee is enthusiastic to embark on her legal career counseling clients and finding them effective solutions.
Emilee resides in Reno with her fiancé, Mitchell, and future step-son, Austin. The family recently adopted a chocolate lab named Murphy and are very busy with puppy and little-person duties. A former surfer and baseball aficionado, Emilee is looking forward to experiencing Northern Nevada’s fantastic outdoor activities.

The talented legal team of Allison MacKenzie is pleased to welcome Emilee to the organization. The firm is confident she will provide exceptional and compassionate service to clients.

Thought Leaders: Are your workers independent contractors or employees?

By: Jennifer McMenomy

Are Your Workers Considered Independent Contractors or Employees under Nevada Law for the Purposes of Payment and Collection of Wages and Other Benefits?

If you are an employer in Nevada, you know your employees are required to be paid a minimum wage for work performed, be provided certain insurance benefits depending on full or part-time status, be compensated properly for overtime, are allowed breaks, and other benefits. You may also know that if you engage independent contractors, these workers are not necessarily entitled to all the benefits afforded to those with an employee status. It is important for you, as an employer, to know the distinction between an independent contractor and an employee to protect your business from liability.

To establish an independent contractor relationship for the purposes of payment and collection of pay and other benefits, there is a relatively new law that has been enacted in Nevada to help employers and workers alike determine their role in the workplace. The determination that a worker is an independent contractor is dependent on several factors that have been enumerated within the law.

In June of 2015, Senate Bill 224 was signed into law. The bill created a “conclusive presumption” that a person is considered an independent contractor if that person meets certain criteria set forth under the law. A “conclusive presumption” requires a court to presume an issue or fact is true notwithstanding evidence to the contrary. Therefore, if a court makes a conclusive finding that a worker is an independent contractor, the worker will not be able to provide evidence to the court opposing that finding.

Under S.B. 224, codified at NRS 608, a person is conclusively presumed to be an independent contractor for the purposes of Nevada Revised Statutes (NRS) Chapter 608—Provisions Governing Payment and Collection of Wages and Other Benefits– if the following requirements are met:

a. The person must not be a foreign national and must be legally present in the United States;

b. The person is required, under their contract with the principal, to hold necessary state or local business licenses and maintain any necessary occupational licenses, insurance or bonding; and

c. The person meets three or more of the following requirements:

1. The person has control over the means and manner of the performance of the work they do and the result of that work;
2. The person has control over the time in which the work is performed (an exception is made here with respect to agreements with a principal regarding completion schedule, range of work hours, and/or for those performing as entertainers);
3. The person is not exclusively required to work for the principal unless the law or a regulation requires exclusivity, and/or the agreement provides for exclusive services for a limited period;
4. The person can hire employees to assist with the work;
5. The person contributes a substantial investment of capital in the business of the person, for instance the purchase of tools and equipment, and/or the person asks for permission from the principal to access the work space from the principal and/or leases the work space from the principal.

For the purposes of this article, the principal is the person who engages another to do any work.

If a person does not meet three or more of the requirements of section (c), that does not mean they will be considered an employee, rather there will be no conclusive presumption made regarding the person’s status as an independent contractor. A finder of fact, meaning a judge or jury depending on the proceeding, will have to determine whether the worker is an independent contractor or an employee under the law.

In interpreting the factors presented in NRS 608, the important word to keep in mind is control. Does the worker or the principal (employer) have control over the timing and the manner in which the work is performed? Does the worker or the principal have control over the materials, tools, and space in which the person is working? Who has control over the financial aspects of the tasks to be performed? Does the worker have the freedom to perform work for a different entity while also working for the principal? If the general answer is that the worker has the control over those aspects, it is likely that the person will be deemed an independent contractor under the law.

Please note that the conclusive presumption of an independent contractor under NRS 608 only applies to Nevada’s wage and hour and benefits laws. The tests for determining whether someone in an independent contractor for the purposes of unemployment, the Nevada Industrial Insurance Act (NIIA), and for tax purposes can be found in other places within the Nevada Revised Statutes and the Federal Tax Laws.

As always, it is of the utmost importance for business owners to have a signed, written agreement with independent contractors that outlines their duties, responsibilities, and the expectations of the task or job to be performed. Be aware, however, that merely classifying a worker as an “independent contractor” in an agreement or contract will not be conclusive as to whether that worker is indeed an independent contractor or employee under the law.

See the Article at NNBV

Understanding the Impact of “Rule of Law” on Nevada Businesses

Joel W. Locke Gets the Latest at the Nevada State Bar Annual Meeting

Joel W. Locke, attorney with Allison MacKenzie Law Firm in Carson City, Nevada

Carson City attorney, Joel W. Locke, a partner at Allison MacKenzie Law Firm pens short series on “The Rule of Law” to help educate Nevada businesses on its impact. Locke recently attended the State Bar of Nevada Annual Meeting in Chicago, IL. The three-day event was held at the Drake Hotel on July 12th thru 14th, 2018. The meeting’s theme was “The Rule of Law” and focused on the discussion of how the legal profession has helped shape the rule in our country’s history, and its role in the future.

The annual meeting provides attorneys with insight into recent developments in law and the legal profession as well as providing a unique opportunity for attorneys to interact with expert judicial figures. One of the goals of this year’s conference was to celebrate and educate the attendees on the role that lawyers have in supporting the “Rule of Law.”

Locke’s inaugural article, The Rule of Law – Part I, was released on July 23rd, 2018 and can be found at: AllisonMacKenzie.com. Part I explores the famed McDonald’s spilled coffee case and includes a video by guest speaker, Susan Saladoff. Additional articles will be released in the upcoming weeks.

“The State Bar of Nevada’s Annual Meeting is an excellent event where I am able to further my knowledge of pressing legal issues facing my clientele as well as enjoy informative lectures and engaging discussions with renowned, high-profile speakers from across the country. Additionally, it is a unique opportunity to network with preeminent attorneys and to meet many judges from across Nevada.” Joel W. Locke stated.

Joel W. Locke joined Allison MacKenzie in 2007. A native Nevadan, Locke graduated from the University of Nevada, Reno in 2000, and then obtained his law degree from Gonzaga University School of Law in 2006. Subsequently, he was admitted to practice law in the State of Nevada in 2006. Joel’s areas of legal practice include: Family Law, Probate Law, Guardianships, Healthcare Law and more.

The Rule of Law – Part I

Joel W. Locke, attorney with Allison MacKenzie Law Firm in Carson City, Nevada

The Rule of Law – 2018 Annual Meeting of the State Bar of Nevada

By Joel W. Locke

Each summer, the State Bar of Nevada holds an Annual Meeting of its membership, which is comprised of Nevada licensed attorneys and members of the judiciary. The meeting offers attendees a dynamic environment of continuing legal education and networking opportunities. This year’s meeting was held on July 12-14 in the beautiful and exciting city of Chicago, and the theme of the meeting was “The Rule of Law.” One of the goals of the conference was to celebrate and educate the attendees on the role that lawyers have in supporting the Rule of Law.

I was honored to introduce one of the speakers, Susan Saladoff. Ms. Saladoff is the director, writer, and producer of the HBO Documentary hit, “Hot Coffee! Is Justice Being Served?” which premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. Ms. Saladoff is a former trial lawyer, and during her presentation, she shared her journey of making the film, how it was received, and what has happened since the film was released. She also appeared on The Colbert Report to discuss the film, as can be seen here: CC.com


The documentary is the “true story” behind the famous McDonald’s spilled hot coffee case, the news of which swept the nation at the time. While many think they know the facts behind the case (which resulted in a jury award of almost $3 million), most probably do not realize that many American companies in various industries spent millions of dollars distorting the facts of the case in order to protect against large awards in the future and to limit an individual’s access to the courts.

Ms. Saladoff’s film tells the actual facts behind the case and follows four individuals whose lives were devastated by the results of the attacks on an individual’s access to the courts. Further, Ms. Saladoff’s film challenges the assumptions that many Americans hold about “jackpot justice.”

Ms. Saladoff’s presentation was impassioned, funny, and engaging. Amazingly, only 20% of the audience had seen her documentary, which is available online and on HBO. A screening of her film followed her lecture and was well-attended. I urge you to watch her film and contrast the news media’s coverage of the case with the truth. It is startling.

Ms. Saladoff is hard at work on her next big “yet to be revealed” project. With the passion and force she puts into her work, I am sure it will be a thought provoking and entertaining success.

James Cavilia Named 2018 Legal Elite

James R. Cavilia

James Cavilia of Allison MacKenzie Law Firm was recently announced as one of the Top Attorneys in Northern Nevada by Nevada Business Magazine. Each year, the publication releases its Legal Elite list highlighting the top attorneys in the state. After an intense nomination, verification, and voting process, Jim was named as part of the 2018 Legal Elite.

The Legal Elite list includes only the top 3 percent of attorneys in the state broken down by location. In addition, Legal Elite includes special lists ranking Nevada’s best “Up and Coming” and best government attorneys. The process is rigorous and each nominee must navigate several levels of scrutiny before obtaining approval to appear on the list. After closing the nomination process, each ballot was individually reviewed for eligibility and every voting attorney was verified with the State Bar of Nevada. The Legal Elite process is now in its 11th iteration.

Jim is a partner at Allison MacKenzie and has dedicated his career to serving the communities of Northern Nevada. Jim joined the team of Allison MacKenzie in 1992. A native Nevadan, Jim Cavilia graduated from the University of Nevada, Reno, and then obtained a law degree from Santa Clara University School of Law in 1990. Jim was admitted to practice in Nevada in 1990, and in California in 1991. His areas of practice include real estate development law, land use, real estate transactions, administrative law, business law, and water rights law.

Further, Jim is involved with a number of professional organizations including the Washoe County Bar Association, First Judicial District Bar Association and the State Bar of Nevada. His dedication to the local community is evidenced by his participation with the Catholic Diocese of Reno School Board, St. Teresa of Avila Catholic School Finance Board, Northern Nevada Development Authority Board of Directors, the Boys’ and Girls’ Club of Western Nevada Board of Directors from 1994 through 2003, Catholic Community Services of Northern Nevada Board of Trustees, and Bishop Manogue High School Board of Regents.

Congratulations to Jim and all of the distinguished attorneys featured among the 2018 Legal Elite.


Carson City Native Returns to the Area to Pursue Legal Career with Allison MacKenzie Law Firm

Jennifer McMenomy Joins Allison MacKenzie Law Firm as New Associate Attorney

Allison MacKenzie Law Firm is pleased to announce the hiring of Jennifer McMenomy as an associate attorney, effective May 7, 2018. A Carson City native and former Policy Analyst for the Nevada State Legislature – State Assembly, Jennifer joins the law firm and will focus her practice on Administrative Law, Government Affairs, Family Law, Estate Planning, Guardianship, and Probate Law.

After graduating from Galena High School, Jennifer received her undergraduate degree in 2010 from the University of Nevada, Reno. Pursuing a law degree, she attended Western State University College of Law in Fullerton, California where she graduated in 2014.

After graduation, Jennifer obtained her law licensing in both California (2015) and Nevada (2016). She was also employed as a Government and Regulatory Affairs Analyst for a solar energy company and worked as an attorney in the San Francisco Bay Area before returning to Northern Nevada.

Commenting on her new association, Jennifer had this to say, “Allison MacKenzie Law Firm is a prestigious and respected organization led by some of the most professional and well-versed attorneys in the country. I was taken in by the firm’s commitment to family and the community. I am delighted to return to the area and join such an outstanding firm.”

Jennifer was drawn to the legal profession as a youngster when she read To Kill a Mockingbird. She began to explore advocacy through the courts and helping others as a career choice. Jennifer is an advocate of civil rights and fair trial proceedings.

Jennifer resides in Reno with her husband and is expecting her first child. She spends her free time running with her four-legged partner named Scout, a German Shepherd, and enjoys time with family, baking, and reading. Committed to empowering youth, for the past 2 years, Jennifer has been a judge for the annual “We the People” competition, an organization promoting civic competence and responsibility among upper elementary and secondary students.

The talented legal team of Allison MacKenzie is pleased to welcome Jennifer to the organization. The firm is confident she will provide exceptional service to the firm’s clients.

For more information about Allison MacKenzie Law Firm, visit www.AllisonMacKenzie.com or call 775.687.0202.

See the article at CarsonNow.org

Is Your Attorney Well Versed in Statutes and Regulations?

The vast majority of Nevada industries are regulated in some way or another, and many of the related regulations and regulatory agencies are obvious. For instance, the Department of Motor Vehicles, in ensuring the safety of our roadways, regulates Nevada drivers and vehicles by issuing permits to qualified drivers, and license plates and registration cards for vehicles meeting DMV standards. Most people can vividly recall the nerves they felt at 16 years of age upon entering and, with luck, the relief upon leaving the DMV to get their first driver’s license.

Other regulatory agencies operate more behind the scenes and Nevadans go about their daily lives without giving much, if any, thought to what those agencies do on a daily basis. For instance, the Gaming Control Board ensures that casino operators stay within rules designed to protect consumers from predatory gaming practices. The Public Utility Commission regulates gas, electric, and other utilities to ensure fair rates for all Nevada businesses and citizens. The State Purchasing Division ensures that the companies and individuals providing goods and services to the State do so under fair and competitive contracts.

In addition, a host of licensing agencies have been created to regulate specific professionals, including doctors, nurses, attorneys, accountants, engineers, land surveyors, and many others. Construction professionals are regulated by the State Contractors Board. The State Contractors Board was created by the Nevada Legislature in 1931 and is authorized to issue licenses to contractors that meet the standards they establish. Contractors may be issued licenses to perform specialized functions, like plumbing or electrical work, or they may obtain licenses as a general contractor.

In all instances, a contractor must pass a licensing exam and go through a rigorous application process that will include the Contractors Board reviewing, among other things, an applicant’s criminal and financial background.

Contractor’s licenses are generally limited in accordance with the financial stability of a contractor. A contractor’s license, which is viewable by the public at the Board’s offices or on its website, will have a monetary limit, meaning that the contractor may only accept projects up to a certain dollar value.
Ostensibly, this creates protection for the consumer. If a contractor’s monetary license limit is $1 million, the consumer can reasonably expect that it can responsibly and capably handle a project up to that value.

One criticism of monetary license limits, however, is that they are tied inextricably to the status of the contractor’s bank account and the Contractors Board is given unfettered authority to reduce a contractor’s monetary license limit when he or she falls on hard times, which was the case for many contractors during the recent recession. Such a reduction operates, effectively, to keep the contractor down by restricting the types of projects he or she is able to accept, regardless of his or her actual skill level and expertise.

In addition to monetary license limits, contractors are generally required to post a bond with the Board. In the event of a valid claim by a homeowner, for instance, the Board may authorize the release of the applicable contractor’s bond to the homeowner as a remedy. Contractors also pay annual fees, and a portion of the fees paid by residential construction contractors are deposited into a fund known as the Residential Recovery Fund, which is also made available to help rehabilitate a homeowner who may have been harmed by a contractor’s negligence or violation of the applicable contract.

Further, the Contractors Board provides processes by which a homeowner may file complaints or claims against a contractor for any number of alleged violations. In such event, the Board may assign an investigator to visit the site of the project and/or sit down with the complainant and the contractor to ascertain whether any violation of Board regulations has occurred. If the investigator and/or other Board staff determine that a violation has occurred, a formal proceeding may be initiated in which the contractor appears to plead his/her case before an administrative law judge, who will make a ruling on the complaint. If a contractor is found guilty of violating Contractors Board regulations, the contractor is subject to several possible penalties, including fines and suspension or revocation of his/her license.

Whether you are a homeowner with a complaint against a contractor who failed to complete your project as expected, or a contractor facing discipline by the Contractors Board, it may be necessary to obtain the services of a qualified attorney to assist you with the process to ensure your rights are protected. In doing so, be sure to look for experienced administrative law attorneys that are well-versed in the statutes and regulations governing proceedings before the Contractors Board.

See the article on NNBV.

Allison MacKenzie partner, Ryan Russell, candidate for Carson City Justice of the Peace, District 2

Ryan Russell

Ryan Russell is a Carson City native and fourth generation Nevadan. After graduating from Carson High School, he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from the University of Nevada, Reno. He went on to obtain a law degree from the William S. Boyd School of Law at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

He was admitted to practice law in Nevada in 2003 and joined Allison MacKenzie Law Firm in 2004. Ryan’s areas of practice have focused on litigation, administrative law, and business law.
Currently, he serves as a Judge Pro Tem (substitute judge) for the Carson City Justice and Municipal Court, and serves as Carson City’s representative on the State Bar of Nevada’s Board of Governors.

Ryan’s impressive legal advocacy has been recognized by Legal Elite – Nevada Business Magazine in 2012, 2013 and 2017. Further, in 2013, Volunteer Attorneys for Rural Nevadans honored him with the award for Outstanding Service for the Lawyer in the Lobby Project. He is AV® Preeminent™ Peer Review Rated by the Martindale Hubbell Law Directory and his Avvo rating is 10, the highest possible.

Ryan has felt the calling to be a judge since he was an extern with Judges Griffin and Maddox after his first year of law school. This goal has only strengthened over time, especially through his experiences as a Judge Pro Tem on the bench in the position he seeks to fill. Ryan stated, “I have learned that the role of the judge is a humble and critical one which can only be filled properly with an eye toward the rule of law and the fundamental principle of justice.”

By serving on the bench, Ryan hopes to be part of furthering the safety and vitality of the community by ensuring the court is run expeditiously, fairly, and evenly, with each individual in the courtroom afforded the respect and decorum of the court itself.

In relation to Justice of the Peace position, Ryan believes that the biggest issue facing the community is that of addiction. “Addiction is at the core of many crimes, and certainly at the core of repeat offense, and even is an issue in many civil matters. Our court, through a comprehensive team approach in both misdemeanor addiction court and mental health court, is taking huge strides to address the fundamental issue of addiction. The successes of such programs are reducing recidivism; and thus, improving our community,” Ryan said.

Additionally, Ryan volunteers for the Boys and Girls Club of Western Nevada where he served as President of the Board of Directors, in 2009, and is an active member of the Carson City Rotary Club.

Russell resides in Carson City with Sarah, his wife, and their three children.

Have a Heart – Ryan Russell Helping Raise Funds for the Homeless and Hungry

Ryan Russell

Allison MacKenzie partner Ryan Russell will be one of this year’s celebrity waiters at the 2018 Have a Heart Celebrity Waiter Fundraiser Dinner. The event is scheduled for Saturday, May 19th at Glen Eagle’s Restaurant and Lounge located at: 3700 N Carson St. in Carson City, Nevada.

The Have a Heart Celebrity Waiter Fundraiser Dinner is just one of the many outstanding events organized by local charity, Friends In Service Helping (FISH). FISH provides food, clothing, shelter and medical aid to the homeless and hungry within our community, with the objective to provide programs and referrals to families and individuals so that they may become self-sufficient.

Ryan will be working along with other local notables, including KOLO 8 Meteorologist Jeff Thompson, and competing for tips to help raise money to provide services for the local homeless and hungry population.

“I am honored to be able to help FISH by being a waiter at the Have a Heart Celebration. The mission of FISH is honorable and a direct benefit to the community I love and hope to serve into the future,” said Ryan Russell about his upcoming volunteer opportunity.

In addition to volunteering for this event, Ryan is active with Carson City Rotary Club and the Boys and Girls Club of Western Nevada where he served as President of the Board of Directors in 2009.

Event seating is limited and available at 5:00 pm and 7:30 pm. Dinner tickets are $65 per person or $500 for a table of 8. A no host cash bar is available. Tickets can be purchased at: NVFish.com. For more information, contact FISH: 775.882.FISH or info@NVFish.com.

Joel W. Locke Elected as a Member of the Nevada State Bar Family Law Executive Council

Local Attorney Serves on Council to Give Back to the Legal Profession and the Community

Allison MacKenzie Law Firm is pleased to announce Joel W. Locke, a partner at Allison MacKenzie Law Firm in Carson City, Nevada, has been elected as a member of Nevada State Bar Family Law Executive Council. He was nominated and elected into the position at the Annual Family Law Conference held in Bishop, CA on March 1 and 2, 2018. Members of the council help promote the integrity of the legal profession, encourage professional growth and provide the opportunity to give back to the community.

Allison MacKenzie attorneys Joel W. Locke and Kyle A. Winter, were both in attendance at the annual Family Law Conference. The event sponsors numerous sessions aimed at furthering knowledge in matters affecting Family Law. Topics span a variety of issues such as: family law practice updates, law practice management, transgender and child custody issues, tax issues impacting divorce, and domestic violence.

“I find the Family Law Conference enlightening. Presentations have real world practicality and provide strategies and ideas of how to become a more effective attorney and litigator. It also encourages communication between judges and other attorneys outside of the courtroom setting,” Kyle Winter stated.

On his nomination and election to Family Law Executive Council, Joel Locke had this to say, “I am honored to serve on the council and look forward to having the opportunity to give back to both my profession and the community I serve.”

Joel W. Locke joined Allison MacKenzie in 2007. A native Nevadan, Joel Locke graduated from the University of Nevada, Reno in 2000, and then obtained his law degree from Gonzaga University School of Law in 2006. Subsequently, he was admitted to practice law in the State of Nevada in 2006. Joel’s areas of legal practice include: Family Law, Probate Law, Guardianships, Healthcare Law and more.

Allison MacKenzie Law Firm is proud of Joel’s nomination and election to serve on this worthwhile council. The firm remains dedicated to civic service and encourages its team of talented attorneys and staff to support area non-profits and community minded organizations.

Read more at: CarsonNow.org