Research help needed: Self Represented Parties in Colorado’s Water Courts

University of Denver Sturm College of Law. Photo credit: Wikimedia

From email from Josh Boissevain:

Two law students at the University of Denver College of Law are conducting research into the experience of self represented parties in Colorado’s Water Courts and are looking for input from water rights holders and attorneys around the state.

Students Lindsey Ratcliff and Josh Boissevain (both originally from Colorado) hope to learn more about the issues and obstacles that water rights holders encounter as they file water rights applications or statements of opposition.

“We know that, in Colorado, trying to do anything with a water right can be expensive and time consuming, and water law itself isn’t exactly the simplest to wrap your head around,” said Boissevain. “So we are really trying to better understand what that is like for people who’ve gone though the process without the help of an attorney.”

Boissevain said they are also curious about water rights holders who have maybe wanted to represent themselves but because of the cost or difficulty decided not to participate at all.

Ratcliff and Boissevain also hope to learn about the experiences of water attorneys who have been in the same cases with parties representing themselves to learn how the court process changes.

“We’re really looking at two aspects here,” said Ratcliff. “First are there any identifiable access-to-justice issues, and second are there any judicial-efficiency issues?”

The two have set up a couple of websites with anonymous surveys to collect these personal experiences from around the state. They request that water rights holders who have had experience in water court as self-represented parties fill out the survey at And they request that attorneys who wish to share their experiences fill out a different survey at

Both websites include more information about the project and include ways of getting in touch with the researchers directly.

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