Water Rights Lawyer: Job Duties & Career Info

Learn what's required to get a job as a water rights lawyer. Find out what the career prospects and earning potential are to see if this field is a good fit for you.

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Career Definition for a Water Rights Lawyer

A water rights lawyer deals with the control, use, and ownership of water as a resource. A water rights lawyer must also be aware of the current policies and legal debates and understand the history of politics and water development in the United States. He or she may represent government agencies, private landowners, businesses or environmental watchdog groups.

Education Post-baccalaureate Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree
Job Skills Knowledge of property and environmental law, aware of the demand and role of water, and good communication skills
Mean Salary (2015)* $136,260 (for lawyers)
Job Growth (2014-2024)* 6% (for lawyers)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

The required education for a career as a water rights lawyer is a post-baccalaureate Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree. Topics studied in this 3-year degree program may include water law policy, environmental law, environmental policy, and climate change.

Required Licensure

Attorneys are required to hold a license issued by the state in which they wish to work. Qualifications for a law license can vary by state but typically include earning a passing score on an exam, commonly known as the bar exam.

Skills Required

To be a water rights lawyer, you must have a strong grasp of both property law and environmental law. You must be aware of the demand for water and the role it plays with businesses and society. Excellent communication skills are needed to argue cases in open court and effectively work with clients.

Economic and Career Outlook

Water rights lawyers commonly work in areas where conservation, drought, and property rights are hot-button issues. These areas include the arid Western U.S., the Southern U.S. and some larger metropolitan areas, like New York and Washington D.C.

Career opportunities for all lawyers were expected to grow 6% from 2014-2024, although competition for positions will be fierce as more law students graduate than ever before, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), www.bls.gov. The BLS reported the mean annual salary for lawyers as of May 2015 was $136,260.

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Alternate Career Options

Careers similar to a water rights lawyer include:


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