Somach Simmons & Dunn | Attorneys at Law

Areas

Education

  • University of Colorado Law School (J.D., 2015)
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (B.A., 2011)

Admissions

  • Colorado

Michael W. Daugherty
Associate
LinkedIn Bio

Michael Daugherty represents public and private parties in complex matters involving water and other natural resources. He blends his experience as a Colorado water lawyer in private practice with a unique perspective gained through his work in Indian Country as a public defender and in-house counsel for a tribal government. 

Michael advises clients regarding water rights, water court litigation, state and federal water agreements, municipal water supplies, property law, and agency decision-making. He has successfully secured water rights for clients (including municipalities, private corporations, and individual landowners), defended against appeals, and negotiated favorable settlements.  He has prior experience representing private individuals and public entities on water law matters in Colorado, Idaho, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming. He has litigated cases in water court, handled transactional matters, and participated in administrative proceedings for local governments and ranching interests.

His legal career spans work for both public interest groups and public agencies, as well as experience as a water lawyer in private practice in Denver. Most recently on the public side, Michael worked as an in-house natural resources attorney for the Navajo Nation, providing legal representation to the Navajo Departments of Land, Fish and Wildlife, and Historic Preservation, as well as the Navajo Environmental Protection Agency’s water programs. Key matters he worked on include the Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project, landmark legislation that increased tribal authority over telecommunication leasing and permitting on tribal land, and formal negotiations with the National Park Service regarding wilderness designations and the State of Utah regarding off-reservation hunting rights.

Michael’s first position after law school graduation was with DNA-People’s Legal Services, as a public defender for the Hopi Tribe and a civil legal aid attorney on the Navajo Nation. While in law school, he interned for several environmental non-profit organizations, served as a student attorney in the Getches-Green Natural Resources, Energy, and Environmental Law Clinic, and worked as a research assistant for the American Indian Law Program.

Beyond his law practice, Michael enjoys skiing, tennis, speaking Spanish, and trail running with his dog, Rosie.

Insights and Activities

  • Panelist, “The Poverty Penalty: America’s Overuse of Fines and Fees,” University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform, University of Michigan Law School, January 2021
  • Author, “Tribal courts should abolish cash bail,” High Country News, July 2020

 

Recent Articles

The Colorado Division of Water Resources Will Now Require Augmentation Plans for Certain Water Exchanges

In a June 10, 2022, memorandum (the “Memo”), the Colorado Division of Water Resources (DWR) summarized the agency’s position on water court applications for water exchanges involving wells pumping from ... Read More

Five Tips for Colorado Ditch Companies

As spring arrives in Colorado, ditch companies across the state will begin running their ditches for the benefit of their shareholders and other water users. Like most arid Western states, ... Read More

Education

  • University of Colorado Law School (J.D., 2015)
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (B.A., 2011)

Admissions

  • Colorado