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

Reports and Journal Articles

“The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act and the Common Law of Groundwater Rights – Finding a Consistent Path Forward for Groundwater Allocation” (with others), 38 UCLA J. Envtl. L. 163 (2020). 

Environmental Water Transactions in the Colorado Basin: A Closer Look (with David Pilz, Rachel O’Connor, and Beatrice Gordon) (Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment, 2018).

“Flexible Framework or Rigid Doctrine? Assessing the Legacy of the 2000 Mojave Decision for Resolving Disputes over Groundwater in California” (with Esther Conrad, William Blomquist, and Janet Martinez), 37 Stan. Envtl. L.J. 185 (2018).

“Indigenous Communities, Groundwater Opportunities” (with others), 361 Science 453 (2018).

“Water Transactions for Streamflow Restoration, Water Supply Reliability, and Rural Economic Vitality in the Western United States” (with others), 54 J. Am. Water Res. Ass’n 487 (2018).

Managing California’s Freshwater Ecosystems: Lessons from the 2012-16 Drought (with others) (Public Policy Institute of California, 2017).

“California’s Drought and the Environment: An Introduction” (with Brian E. Gray), 23 Hastings W.-Nw. J. Envtl. L. & Pol’y 51 (2017).

Navigating a Flood of Information: Evaluating and Integrating Climate Science into Groundwater Planning in California (with others) (Union of Concerned Scientists, 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 Tara Moran, Amanda Cravens, and Janet Martinez) (Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment, 2016).

Marine and Coastal Impacts of Ocean Desalination in California (with others) (Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment, 2016).

Allocating California’s Water: Directions for Reform (with others) (Public Policy Institute of California, 2015).

Environmental Water Transfers: A Review of State Laws (with others) (Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment, 2015).

“Water in the West” (with Andrew Fahlund and Min L. Janny Choy), 6 Cal. J. Pol. & Pol’y 61 (2014).


Blogs and Op-Eds

“A Water Right for the Environment” (with Brian Gray and Barton “Buzz” Thompson), Cal. Water Blog, Dec. 10, 2017. 

“The False Choice Between Fish and People,” Water in the West Insights, June 5, 2017.

“Commentary: Desalination Will Not Solve California’s Water Woes” (with Newsha K. Ajami), San Jose Mercury News, June 1, 2017.


Faculty in the News