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: For more information, contact FISH: 775.882.FISH or

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:

2018 “Best Law Firms” by US News and World Reports

Allison MacKenzie Law Firm, of Carson City, Nevada, has been named a Metropolitan Tier 1 firm in Energy Law by U.S. News – Best Lawyers® “Best Law Firms” in 2018.

Allison MacKenzie Law Firm assists entities involved in energy matters including alternative energy, power plant siting, contract negotiations and rulemaking proceedings. Our team of attorneys keep abreast of the ever-changing dynamics of the utility industry to provide clients with comprehensive, professional legal representation.

The firm’s priority is to advise clients on how to best understand the legal environment in which they operate their business. Careful and creative consideration is given to individual client needs. Our services regarding utility matters include utility facility permitting, including power plants and water and sewer facilities, energy rate cases, energy rule making proceedings and development of renewable energy resources.

At Allison MacKenzie, our attorneys provide comprehensive counsel in Energy Law. In particular, attorneys, Karen A. Peterson and Justin Townsend, offer clients experienced representation in this practice area.

See the complete 8th Edition of the Best Law Firms 2018.

Allison MacKenzie Law Firm Accepts Award for Aiding Low-income Rural Nevadans


Allison MacKenzie Law Firm accepts Volunteer Attorneys for Rural Nevadans (VARN) community service award. The firm has received recognition for providing free, exceptional legal services to low-income rural Nevadans. The VARN Pro Bono Service Awards reception was held at the Supreme Court Rotunda on Thursday, January 25, 2018.

Allison MacKenzie Law Firm associates, Kyle A. Winter, S. Jordan Walsh and Kevin Benson, were honored for their efforts assisting VARN clients in family, real estate and civil matters with the coveted “2017 Law Firm with the Most Pro Bono Participants” award during the course of the 2017 VARN Pro Bono Project. While VARN does not provide assistance in criminal matters, it does provide civil legal services pro bono (for free) for eligible low-income individuals and families through the Pro Bono Project.

Kyle Winter

S. Jordan Walsh

Kevin Benson

Read more:

Records Retention and the Future of Your Business

Understanding the Legality of Digital Data Storage in Nevada

Societal attitudes toward digital information have dramatically changed over the last decade, and continue to change. This change was succinctly demonstrated in an exchange I recently overheard:

Q: “Do you have a hard copy of that document?”
A: “Yeah, I have a PDF.”

How many emails are in your mailbox right now? Not just unread ones, all of them, including the ones in your Sent folder. Multiply that by the number of employees, and you can see that the volume of electronic records your business is accumulating quickly becomes staggering.

Word files, spreadsheets, emails, texts, and instant messages now dominate our work and our communications. Billions of electronic records can be inexpensively stored on a device that fits in your pocket. As the cost of data storage declines, the number of records that are being stored indefinitely continues to soar.

All of these electronic files or records are treated by the courts exactly the same as good old-fashioned paper documents. That means that if your business is sued, it must not only retain those electronic records, but it will very likely have to produce a great number of them to the opposing party. “Electronically stored information,” or ESI, includes all forms of electronic data that is relevant or potentially relevant to the lawsuit. This means word processing files, databases, emails, and even the text messages on your phone.

Does your business have the capability to reliably gather all of those records, review them, and produce them in a lawsuit? Litigation is already expensive, but the sheer volume of these documents has caused the cost of litigation to skyrocket because of the difficulty that is often involved in finding, reviewing and producing such a large number of records.


See the complete article at: Northern Nevada Business Weekly.

Kevin Benson is an associate with Allison MacKenzie Law firm with primary focus in the areas of civil litigation, appeals, administrative and regulatory matters, election law, and ballot measures. He is a native Nevadan and former Senior Deputy Attorney General for the state.

Pregnant Workers & the Fairness Act

Are you in compliance with the Pregnant Workers’ Fairness Act?

If you are an employer in Nevada, you probably are well aware that federal law prohibits you from discriminating against employees and/or potential employees on the basis of pregnancy or a pregnancy-related condition. Additionally, you probably already understand that you are required to provide reasonable accommodation to such employees. However, many employers are unfamiliar with the Nevada Pregnant Workers’ Fairness Act of 2017, adopted during the 2017 legislative session, and its impact on interactions between employers and such employees. In this article, we will review the underlying federal law establishing the baseline for interactions with employees who are pregnant, or suffering from pregnancy related conditions, and discuss how the Act, which went into effect on Oct. 1, 2017, differs from prior law.

In 1978, Congress enacted the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 (PDA) which expanded protections to pregnant workers provided under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The PDA makes it unlawful for an employer to discriminate against an employee on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth or a related condition.

Subsequently, in 1990 Congress enacted the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to employees suffering from a disability. Congress further expanded protections under the ADA in 2008 by requiring employers to accommodate temporary disabilities. While pregnancy is not classified as a “disability,” if a pregnancy, or related condition, impairs a woman’s ability to complete her essential job functions, under the 2008 amendment an employer is required to provide reasonable accommodation to assist the employee in completing her essential job functions. Under the ADA, an employer, and not the employee, is given the authority to select the accommodation. Accordingly, where an employer offers a reasonable accommodation to an employee, the employee must prove that the accommodation is unreasonable to successfully challenge the employer’s accommodation.

The 2017 Nevada Pregnant Workers’ Fairness Act significantly expands protections for pregnant workers, and workers suffering from pregnancy related conditions in Nevada. Specifically, the Act makes it unlawful for an employer who is covered under the Act to engage in any of the following actions against a female employee who is pregnant, or suffers from a pregnancy related condition:

  • Refuse to provide a reasonable accommodation to the employee.
  • Take an adverse employment action against the employee.
  • Deny the employment opportunity to the employee, if she is qualified for the opportunity.
  • Require the employee to accept an accommodation that she did not request or choose.
  • Require the employee take leave from employment, if a reasonable accommodation is available and would allow the employee to remain at work.

Additionally, employers should be aware that their current compliance with federal law, will not ensure compliance with the Nevada Pregnant Workers’ Fairness Act. Specifically, there are four important distinctions between what is required under federal law and what is required under the Act. These differences are:

  • Federal Law is not gender specific. However, the Act only applies to female employees.
  • Under federal law, the employer determines what accommodation is reasonable and may require the employee to use an accommodation selected by the employer. Further, an employer could require an employee to take leave as an accommodation. Under the Act, an accommodation may not be imposed on an employee without her consent, and an employer may not require an employee to take leave. Therefore, under the Act, generally, the employee, and not the employer, chooses her accommodation.
  • Under federal law, an employee may be required to submit a doctor’s certificate establishing that she indeed has a recognized disability and needs accommodation. However, under the Act, the employer may not require an employee to submit an ADA compliant doctor’s certificate. Instead, an employer may only require the employee to provide an explanatory statement from a physician concerning a recommended accommodation.
  • Finally, under federal law, a “disability” is a defined term, and is limited to physical or mental impairments that substantially limit a major life activity. Accordingly, in order to qualify for accommodation under federal law, an employee must be able to prove that he or she suffers from a condition which “substantially limit[s]” one or more major life activity. Under the Act, there is no such limitation to finding an employee suffers from a condition triggering the right to accommodation. Instead, the Act only requires the employee to assert that she is pregnant, or has “any medically recognized physical or mental condition related to pregnancy, childbirth or recovery from pregnancy or childbirth” in order to obtain accommodation from her employer.

Employers should be cognizant of these changes, and the differences between federal and state law. Further, employers should consider seeking competent legal advice should they have any questions concerning compliance with the Act.

See the article at: Northern Nevada Business Weekly

Jordan Walsh is an associate with Allison MacKenzie Law Firm with primary practice in the areas of Labor and Employment Law. Jordan is admitted to practice in Nevada and California.

Interstate Regulations Can Hit Lax Taxi, Bus, even Uber drivers

By:  Justin Townsend

Justin is an associate with Allison MacKenzie Law Firm with primary practice in Business Law, Real Estate Law, Transportation Law, Commercial Transactions and Energy Law.

You can’t talk about the leading industries in Nevada without mentioning tourism and gaming. However, there are a number of ancillary industries in the state that offer critical support to Nevada’s thriving tourist trade. One such industry is transportation, much of which is generally regulated by the Nevada Transportation Authority, which was formed for the purpose of regulating and licensing motor carriers operating in the state. A motor carrier is any vehicle operating on the roads of Nevada for the purpose of transporting persons or property — anything from a taxi, to a limousine service, to tour bus operators, and even tow cars.

For obvious reasons, many key gaming and important tourist spots in Nevada are located near borders of other states — spots like Lake Tahoe and Reno on and near the Northern California border, Wendover on the Utah border, and Las Vegas near the borders of Utah, Arizona, and Southern California. Much of the Nevada transportation industry revolves around transporting tourists in and to these locations.

Commercial motor carriers who transport passengers in these border spots often have to deal with more than just NTA regulations. They may have to contend with neighboring state transportation agencies or even with federal agency regulations. Problems can and do arise for these carriers when they cross borders and inevitably have to navigate state and federal transportation agencies and potentially conflicting laws and regulations.

For instance, a limousine might be chartered to pick up a group of bachelor partygoers from Reno-Tahoe International Airport, take them to check in to their hotel in South Lake Tahoe, California, and then bring them to a casino just across the border in Stateline, Nevada.

The NTA employs several investigating officers with authority to detain commercial motor carriers on the road to ensure compliance with NTA regulations, which include requirements that such vehicles be marked with approved names and operating license numbers and that drivers carry NTA driving permits and medical cards. Like police officers, NTA investigators are authorized to issue citations to commercial drivers who fail to comply with applicable regulations.

In the previously mentioned South Lake Tahoe example, let’s say the limousine was based out of California and does not have authority to operate in Nevada. In such a case, an NTA investigator might notice that the vehicle does not contain the markings required by NTA regulations and might stop the driver after he has dropped the passengers at the casino in Stateline. A citation is issued for the lack of required markings and, perhaps, for the driver’s failure to carry an NTA driving permit.The owners of the California-based limousine would need to hire a Nevada attorney to represent them before the NTA and assist with getting the citations dismissed. Why? Because the limousine was operating in what is known as interstate commerce. However, the NTA is only authorized to regulate intrastate transportation — trips that occur entirely within the State of Nevada.

On the other hand, federal law provides that the federal government has jurisdiction over transportation of passengers between one state and another state or between two places in one state if such travel passes through another state at any point. Federal law trumps state law in such a case and the NTA citations must be dismissed.

Similar issues might arise in any number of different scenarios. Consider a tour bus operating between the Las Vegas strip and the Grand Canyon in Arizona or an Uber driver transporting a tourist from Wendover, Utah, to West Wendover. In all such cases, the lines often become blurred between Nevada and federal laws, which just might result in an NTA citation for one reason or another. When these or other transportation matters occur, transportation entities should consult with competent legal counsel that is experienced in transportation law to assist with the NTA and to obtain a just and fair result under whichever law applies. Understand your rights and responsibilities when it comes to federal and state transportation laws.

See the article at: Northern Nevada Business Weekly

Estate Planning: Providing For Your Pet

Kyle Winter

In an article entitled “The Importance of an Estate Plan” drafted earlier this year, we discussed the benefits of future planning as it relates to persons of all income brackets. A general background was presented providing the readers an opportunity to understand the importance of an estate plan, and more specifically the advantages of a Trust, powers of attorney, and/or living wills to ensure that a person’s current desires would be followed through at a time when they could not make decisions for themselves, or upon their death. As a follow up to The Importance of an Estate Plan, this article will discuss a rarely used, but important subset of estate planning for clients who want to provide for their beloved pets in addition to their family members.

Unsurprisingly, most people consider their pets as an important part of their family. The purpose of an estate plan is to ensure that one’s property is cared for and distributed as the Grantor desires. Likewise, the purpose of creating enforceable documents regarding one’s pets is to ensure that they are properly cared for and placed in a loving home for the remainder of their lifetimes.

With this idea in mind, a Grantor can ensure their pets are provided for when they are unable to care for their pets themselves. Such provisions in an estate plan can be as simple or elaborate as one desires. A client may merely designate who will take custody of the family pets, or may choose to provide a comprehensive plan for who will care for the pets, including providing funds for their care, and donating any residual funds to various shelters in their pet’s name upon their passing. Certainly, a Grantor can leave their estate to whomever they decide, including their pets, and such provisions will be followed just as any other distribution or request contained in an individual’s Trust or estate plan.

Whether you already have an established trust that does not provide for your animals, or if you are planning on establishing a family trust and wish to include provisions for your animals, it is important that you discuss these and other estate planning issues with competent legal counsel. Be sure to that your wishes are known in advance whatever they may be. At Allison MacKenzie, Ltd., our attorneys are available to discuss these estate planning issues with you whether you already have an established trust that does not provide for your animals, or if you are planning on establishing a family trust and wish to include provisions for your animals.

Ryan Russell Re-Elected to the State Bar of Nevada’s Board of Governors

Ryan Russell

Allison MacKenzie shareholder Ryan Russell has been re-elected to serve as Carson City’s representative on the State Bar of Nevada’s Board of Governors.
Comprised of 15 members representing the four state districts defined in Supreme Court Rule 81, the Board of Governors carries out the State Bar’s administrative functions, sets policies and procedures, affects rule changes, takes legislative positions relative to the administration of justice, and oversees the Bar’s fiduciary responsibilities. Elections are held annually and governors are selected by the members of their districts to serve two-year terms.
A native of Carson City, Ryan has been an attorney at Allison MacKenzie since 2004. His primary areas of practice include Local Government and Entity Law. In addition to his work at Allison MacKenzie, Ryan is also extremely active in his service of the community. He currently serves as a Special Master for the Carson City Juvenile Court and Judge Pro Tem for the Carson City Justice and Municipal Court. Ryan also volunteers his time to the Boys and Girls Club of Western Nevada and is a member of the Carson City Rotary Club.
Ryan was recently recognized as one of the Top Attorneys in Northern Nevada by Nevada Business Magazine. Each year, the Legal Elite list highlights the top 4 percent of attorneys in the state as nominated and voted on by the legal community.
Allison MacKenzie is proud of Ryan’s re-election to the Board of Governors and of his ongoing dedication to civic service. Ryan’s accomplishments are part of the firm’s rich legacy of commitment to both its clients and its community.