Baylor Law Hosts The National Judicial College’s 2017 Dividing the Waters General Conference

November 10, 2017

Baylor Law Hosts The National Judicial College's 2017 Dividing the Waters General Conference

Photo of students gathered around a spring for the National Dividing the Waters General Conference

WACO, Texas -

Baylor Law was honored to host the National Judicial College's 2017 Dividing the Waters General Conference on November 1-4, in Waco, Texas.

The Dividing the Waters General Conference prepares judicial officers for adjudicating and resolving groundwater conflicts. The faculty, comprised of prominent scientists and judges from across the nation, focus on the enduring and emerging conflicts over groundwater in Texas and across the West.

As surface water has become fully committed, farms and growing communities have turned to groundwater, leading to conflicts over water as well as land-use. The conference started with the science of groundwater and explored how conflicts over groundwater—and its connection to surface water—have emerged in states across the nation. Some states long ago applied surface water rights law concepts to groundwater. Other states have adopted new governance structures to manage a declining resource, with the hope of restoring groundwater reserves.

A speaker commands attention from the jury at Dividing the Waters

In addition to the panels and sessions held at Baylor Law, conference participants spent a day in the field in and around Waco to learn how groundwater works and contributes to the communities it serves. Participants also enjoyed dinner at The Baylor Club at McLane Stadium with keynote speaker, Chief Justice Nathan L. Hecht of the Supreme Court of Texas.

Gathered in front of a groundwater site, a lecturer shows off a presentation placard
Photo of a packed clasroom
Technical tools demonstrated and explained by an expert at a groundwater site

Hon. Jan P. Patterson, Baylor Law's jurist in residence, was instrumental in bringing the conference to the Law School.

"What better place to explore the legal aspects of interstate water conflicts than on the banks of the Brazos River at Baylor Law," said Justice Patterson. "In addition to the legalities regarding groundwater conflicts, the faculty of the conference addressed in-depth research on the scientific aspects of such disputes—providing clarity on a subject that can easily become muddied with complexity, no pun intended," she said.

Justice Patterson joined the faculty of Baylor Law School in 2012 following an extensive career in civil and criminal trial practice in state and federal courts in New York and Texas, appellate law practice in the Second and Fifth Circuits and Texas state courts, and a distinguished career on the bench serving as a Justice on the Texas Third Court of Appeals.

For more information about the 2017 Dividing the Waters General Conference, please visit the Dividing the Waters webpage.

Written by: Berkley Knas, Baylor Law School
Photos by: Judge Gregory J. Hobbs Jr., Senior Water Judge, Colorado Courts and Distinguished Jurist in Residence, University of Denver Sturm College of Law
MEDIA CONTACT: Eric Eckert, Assistant Director of Media Communications
PHONE: 254-710-1964

Established in 1857, Baylor Law School was one of the first law schools in Texas and one of the first west of the Mississippi River. Today, the school has more than 7,400 living alumni. It is accredited by the American Bar Association and is a member of the Association of American Law Schools. Baylor Law School has a record of producing outstanding lawyers, many of whom decide upon a career in public service. The Law School boasts two governors, members or former members of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, two former directors of the FBI, U.S. ambassadors, federal judges, justices of the Texas Supreme Court and members of the Texas Legislature, among its notable alumni. In its law specialties rankings, U.S. News & World Report ranked Baylor Law's trial advocacy program as #3 in the nation. Baylor Law School is also ranked #51 in the magazine's 2018 edition of "America's Best Graduate Schools." The National Jurist ranks Baylor Law as one of the "Best School for Practical Training," and #4 in the nation in its most recent "Best Law School Facilities" listing. The Business Insider places Baylor Law among the top 50 law schools in the nation. Baylor Law School received the 2015 American Bar Association Pro Bono Publico Award, making it only the third law school in the nation to be honored with the award since the award's inception in 1984.

Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 17,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions. Learn more at

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