Rebecca R. A. Smith

Rebecca R. A. Smith


Rebecca R. A. Smith


Rebecca Smith is a leader on the firm’s food safety compliance team. She has particular expertise in the Food Safety Modernization Act, and has written and presented in great depth on the legal issues presented by that federal law.  In connection with this expertise, Rebecca counsels farming, food processing, and wine clients on recalls, supply contracts, and food safety regulatory compliance.

Rebecca participates both in the Food and Ag Practice and in the firm’s well-reputed Water Law practice. With these complimentary skill sets, Rebecca frequently advises clients in the farming, wine, and alcoholic beverage industries on land acquisition matters and water supply issues, in addition to food safety compliance matters.  These clients also benefit from Rebecca’s experience in reviewing and drafting supply and service contracts, negotiating leases and easements, and in ensuring compliance with state and federal contract and bidding rules.

Rebecca is in demand as a public speaker and author, and regularly gives presentations on food safety compliance, land use issues, and public agency law to clients and industry groups.


  • Counsel clients on claims of riparian and pre-1914 water rights, investigate water rights, and advise clients in interactions with the State Water Resources Control Board.
  • Delaware Tetra Technologies, Inc. v. County of San Bernardino; Center for Biological Diversity v. County of San Bernardino. Representing County in defense of six coordinated actions challenging the Cadiz Groundwater Conservation, Recovery and Storage Project under CEQA and the County’s Desert Groundwater Management Ordinance. Prevailed at trial on all claims in all six actions.
  • Prepare motion for summary judgment for community services district relating to a claim for tax refund, resulting in a $2 million judgment for client.
  • Draft legislation protecting landowner voting structure of irrigation district, and interface with legislative staffers to ensure the bill’s passage.
  • Counsel joint powers authority on matters relating to authority’s powers and obligations under the California Joint Powers Authority Act, and provide advice regarding the restructuring of that authority.
  • Prepare election materials and provide legal guidance regarding election procedures for numerous public agency clients, including California Water Districts, Reclamation Districts, Irrigation Districts, and Community Services Districts. During particularly contentious elections, provide valuable on-site legal advice regarding election challenges and voting procedures.
  • Counsel clients on issues relating to U.S. Bureau of Reclamation water contracts, water allocation and shortage policies, and compliance with federal Reclamation law.
  • Perform detailed CEQA analysis for private developer in connection with permit applications related to second phase of ongoing development project.
  • Counsel farming and winery clients on land acquisition matters, including easements, title restrictions, water rights, and development restrictions.
  • Assist clients in developing and evaluating water supply assessments and developing water supply policies, for future development and current needs.
  • Counsel public agency client through an election to change the rates and methods of apportionment of a special tax under the California Elections Code and the Mello Roos Act.
  • Extensive experience responding to, drafting, and challenging requests for public records under the California Public Records Act and the Freedom of Information Act.
  • Represent municipality in large-scale CEQA and groundwater litigation.
  • Prepare and defend comprehensive administration record in advance of litigation.

Professional, Community And Pro Bono Involvement

  • Water Education Foundation Water Leaders Fellowship, Class of 2018
  • Center for Land-Based Learning, Board Member, 2018
  • Sutter Davis Hospital Foundation, Board Member, 2018
  • “Lawyers in the Library” Pro Bono Project, Sacramento County Public Law Library, Volunteer, 2011-present
  • Association of Women in Water, Energy and the Environment
  • Groundwater Resources Association
  • American Bar Association, 2010-present
  • American Agricultural Law Association, 2012-present
  • Sacramento County Bar Association, Environmental Law Section, 2010-present
  • Davis Chamber of Commerce
  • U.C. Davis Block CA Society, 2010-present
  • Notre Dame Public Defender Program, South Bend Juvenile Justice Center, Student Attorney, 2009-2010

Honors And Rankings

  • Advisor, California Water Law Journal, 2013-present
  • Editor-in-Chief, Journal of College and University Law, 2009-2010
  • Staff Writer, Journal of College and University Law, 2008-2010
  • Judicial Extern,  Honorable William M. Skretny, U.S. District Court, Western District of New York, 2008

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