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Three law firms open, HR program for nonprofits, small businesses launched

NORTH BAY – Four veteran legal and employment-law compliance experts launched new businesses in Sonoma, Napa and Marin counties in recent months, including a unique HR model geared specifically for small businesses and nonprofits.

Twenty-year human resources specialist and San Rafael business owner Jill Collins Nelson will host two events this week to celebrate the April 1 launch of a new service model called the HR Umbrella. The HR BizPartners president and chief executive officer calls the sector “a hybrid between employee-leasing services and PEOs” and said it is meant to provide an economical alternative to traditional outsourced HR providers.

“I felt like right now was probably the most favorable time to introduce a business like this because small business and nonprofits are probably spread the most thin right now,” she said.

“For them HR is kind of a luxury, but a lot of times they don’t realize how much they are letting [labor law] compliance fall to the wayside completely unintentionally.”

Umbrella offers all of the same resources as any human resources outsourcing company, but the provider actually works in the office alongside the rest of the staff. The advantage for the organization is that instead of paying for another full-time staff person, the worker is shared between four or five other companies.

“This provides the businesses an economy of scale they didn’t have before,” Ms. Collins Nelson said. “Also, in addition to compliance, the HR person can be part of a strategy for growth – making the most of the employees you have, acting as a neutral third party, keeping tabs on employee morale. It’s someone who’s looking at the big picture.”

Users of the service can either hire the in-house human resources provider, which charges according to head count,

or pay a monthly retainer to provide services as needed. The program provides businesses with training, employee handbook and benefits design and audit services as well as establishes a performance-management system, along with other services.

For more information, visit www.hrbizpartners.com or call 415-717-3046.

Further north of the Bay, an experienced assembly of business legal experts launched three new wine country law firms.

In Napa, former Dickenson, Peatman & Fogarty Partner Matt Eisenberg launched an independent practice in March focusing on the hospitality and wine sectors in dealings related to corporate law, real property, land-use, entitlements, alcohol beverage and pre-litigation and mediation representation. For more information, visit www.matteisenberg.com or call 707-224-1074.

Former Friedemann Goldberg attorney Brian Noble also went out on his own this year, opening the Law Office of Brian A. Noble in February. The business is located adjacent to his former employer and offers commercial and complex business litigation as well as regulatory compliance consulting, among other services.

“I have thought of running my own firm for some time and having more control over my own client base and schedule. I talked with Friedemann and they supported the decision,” Mr. Noble said.

For more information, visit www.law-noble.com or call 707-237-0064.

In Santa Rosa, the state’s largest law firm serving public entities and districts opened its first North Bay office, although it has served clients in the area for years. The 2,000-square-foot Lozano Smith office located in the Harvest Business Center in the airport business center opened in January and houses five attorneys, including managing shareholder and longtime Calistoga resident Greg Wedner.

For more information, visit www.lozanosmith.com or call 707-591-0637.