TU Law alumnus protects precious natural resource - The University of Tulsa
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TU Law alumnus protects precious natural resource

Kevin Patrick

By 2025 up to 40% of the world will live in water-scarce regions. For University of Tulsa alumnus Kevin Patrick, water is not only a natural resource, but also his job.

Patrick (JD ’78) is the founder of WATERLAW-Patrick Miller Noto. “I know of only one other firm that does strictly water,” he said. “Usually, water is a division of a firm that does many other types of law. I wanted to create a boutique firm as a business model that focused only on water so that there was complete concentration on water.”

Patrick, who received his undergraduate degree from Virginia Tech before attending law school at TU, has been involved in many water-related cases in his 40 years of service – everything from the integration between groundwater and surface water to trying to maximize the utility of the resource.

“I’ve been involved in interstate cases that transfer water between states and across state lines as well as forming rights in states to resources they can reply upon. I’ve been involved in Tribal water resources claims across the West, and it’s fascinating to me how different states have different laws that relate to water,” he said.

Based in Aspen, Colorado, Patrick said the state is a leader in the field because the body of law goes back further than other states. “A lot of states look to Colorado when their laws are unclear or they have a question,” he added.

Patrick said The University of Tulsa was fundamental in his legal education. “TU focused on not just textbook law, but they taught physical science as well as the law,” he said. “That is so important if you’re in the natural resources law field, to grasp an understanding of how empirical sciences – math and science – relate to the law.”

Patrick continues to be involved with his alma mater. He promoted a mentoring program at TU Law with others, and, in fact, hired a mentee who recently became a partner at his firm.

“We look first and foremost to just a handful of schools for hiring at my firm – The University of Tulsa, the University of Colorado, Denver University, the University of Arizona and Arizona State University – because those focus on natural resources and the law.

“Water is kind of the ultimate example of a sustainable natural resource because pretty much more or less the same amount of water that exists today existed at the time of the dinosaurs. We have to take care of it and protect it.”

Patrick has spoken on water issues on three continents and been lead counsel on over 40 appellate cases before state Supreme Courts, U.S. Circuit Courts, and the U.S. Supreme Court on water issues.

Aquaman: University of Tulsa Law alumnus protects precious natural resource.