Leon Szeptycki

  • Professor of Law, General Faculty
  • Associate Director, UVA Environmental Resilience Institute

Leon Szeptycki joined the law faculty in 2019 after serving as a professor of the practice and executive director of Water in the West at the Woods Institute for the Environment at Stanford University, where he oversaw an interdisciplinary research program focused on water management in the American West. Szeptycki is an expert in water law and policy and has worked extensively on large-scale watershed restoration projects. Szeptycki also serves as associate director of the University’s Environmental Resilience Institute.

Prior to joining the Woods Institute, Szeptycki served as the director of the Law School’s Environmental Law and Conservation Clinic, and as general counsel of Trout Unlimited, a national conservation organization. Early in his career, he also worked at the U.S. Department of Justice and practiced law at the Charlottesville office of McGuireWoods. In 2016, Szeptycki was appointed by California Gov. Jerry Brown to the board of the Klamath River Renewal Corp., a nonprofit corporation charged with removing four hydropower dams on the Klamath River.

After graduating Yale Law School in 1988, Szeptycki clerked for Judge Stephanie Seymour of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit. 


  • J.D.
    Yale Law School
  • B.A.
    University of Kansas

Articles & Reviews

The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act and the Common Law of Groundwater Rights – Finding a Consistent Path Forward for Groundwater Allocation (with Christina Babbitt et al.), 38 UCLA Journal of Environmental Law & Policy 163–215 (2020).
Indigenous communities, groundwater opportunities (with Robert T. Anderson et al.), 361 Science 453–455 (2018).
Water Transactions for Streamflow Restoration, Water Supply Reliability, and Rural Economic Vitality in the Western United States (with Bruce Aylward et al.), 54 Journal of the American Water Resources Association 487–504 (2018).
Flexible Framework or Rigid Doctrine? Assessing the Legacy of the 2000 Mojave Decision for Resolving Disputes over Groundwater in California (with William Blomquist, Esther Conrad & Janet Martinez), 37 Stanford Environmental Law Journal 185–250 (2018).
A Water Right for the Environment (with Brian Gray & Barton Thompson), California WaterBlog (2017).
The False Choice between Fish and People, Water in the West Insights (2017).
California’s Drought and the Environment: An Introduction (with Brian E. Gray), 23 Hastings West-Northwest Journal of Environmental Law and Policy 51–56 (2017).
Water in the West (with Min L. Choy & Andrew Fahlund), 6 California Journal of Politics and Policy 61–102 (2014).

Reports & Datasets

Environmental Water Transactions in the Colorado River Basin: A Closer Look (with Beatrice Gordon, Rachel O’Connor & David Pilz), Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment (2018).
Navigating a Flood of Information Evaluating and Integrating Climate Science into Groundwater Planning in California (with Juliet Christian-Smith et al.), Union of Concerned Scientists (2017).
Managing California’s Freshwater Ecosystems: Lessons from the 2012-16 Drought (with Caitrin Chappelle et al.), Public Policy Institute of California (2017).
Colorado River Basin Environmental Water Transfers Scorecard (with David Pilz), Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment (2017).
From the Ground Down: Understanding Local Groundwater Data Collection and Sharing Practices in California (with Amanda Cravens, Janet Martinez & Tara Moran), Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment (2016).
Marine and Coastal Impacts of Ocean Desalination in California (with Newsha K. Ajami et al.), Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment (2016).
Allocating California’s Water: Directions for Reform (with Richard Frank et al.), Public Policy Institute of California (2015).
Environmental Water Rights Transfers: A Review of State Laws (with Julia Forgie et al.), Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment (2015).

Op-Eds, Blogs, Shorter Works

Commentary: Desalination will not solve California’s water woes (with Newsha K. Ajami), San Jose Mercury News (June 1, 2017).

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