John is a BKBH shareholder and member of the firm’s Environmental and Natural Resources and Litigation Practice Groups. His practice is primarily focused on water law, where he represents clients before the Montana Water Court in the statewide water rights adjudication, before state district courts in water administration and distribution matters, and before the Montana Department of Natural Resources regarding the permitting of new water rights and changing existing water rights. His practice also includes representing clients in court and administrative proceedings regarding general environmental and natural resource permitting and compliance, environmental tort defense, and real property issues. He has been rated as one of Montana’s top Environmental & Natural Resources attorneys according to Chambers USA.
Water Law, Environmental, and Natural Resources
John and BKBH attorneys represent clients in all substantive areas of water law, including appearing before the Montana Supreme Court, the Montana Water Court, Montana district courts, as well as in administrative proceedings before the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation and the Montana Department of Environmental Quality. John is experienced at researching historical water rights usage before 1973 to quantify and qualify rights as part of the water rights adjudication. He also works with clients to develop new water appropriations, to change existing water rights, and to transfer water rights as part of real property transactions. John represents a diverse water-rights clientele, including ranchers, farmers, municipalities, industries, conservation interests, and real estate developers.
Environmental Permitting and Compliance
In addition to water rights matters, John assists clients in matters involving environmental permitting and compliance. He is often called upon by companies to represent them in proceedings before administrative agencies regarding permit objections, permit challenges by third-parties, and agency enforcement actions.
John’s real property practice includes representing landowners, developers, and others in dispute resolution and litigation. He frequently handles matters involving boundary line disputes, ditch and access easements, and other matters. In addition to representing clients in dispute and litigation, he also represents clients in deed preparation, land transfers, and buy-sell matters.
Environmental Tort Defense and Superfund
John has extensive experience handling complex litigation involving environmental tort and environmental contamination and cleanup arising from major industrial accidents leading to both federal Superfund and CERCLA liability, as well as liability for state law Superfund counterparts. Much of his representation in this area has been in connection with liability allocations and cost contribution.
John was born in West Lafayette, Indiana, and raised in Fort Collins, Colorado and Bozeman, Montana. John received a bachelor’s degree from Montana State University College of Agriculture in 1987. While attending MSU and for a short time thereafter, he worked as a newspaper circulation manager, ski instructor, landscaper, tree trimmer, and urban planner.
In 1990, John moved to Seattle, Washington where he worked in the environmental remediation and consulting field throughout the Pacific Northwest. He held the position of Pacific Northwest Branch Manager for a national environmental services company. In 2001, John enrolled in law school at the Seattle University School of Law, where he graduated Magna Cum Laude in 2004 and returned to Montana to join BKBH.
John is married to Leah, and they have one adult son. When not practicing law, he is active in the Helena bicycling community and races in road, mountain bike, and cyclocross events. He is also an avid alpine and cross-country skier, and is active in land conservation efforts as a member of the Board of Directors of Prickly Pear Land Trust, and having served on the Lewis & Clark County Citizens Advisory Committee on Open Lands for seven years.
- J.D., Seattle University School of Law
- B.S. Horticulture, Montana State University
- Montana (All state courts)
- United States District Court for the District of Montana
- United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
- United States Court of International Trade
- Chair-Elect, Water Law Section, State Bar of Montana
- Board Member, Prickly Pear Land Trust