With 20 years of experience in environmental and natural resources law, John Burnside knows that insights leading to solutions come from knowledge, study, perseverance, and communication. John resolves complex environmental regulatory and water resource issues and disputes for mining, industrial, and other clients using his deep understanding of the law, environmental science and hydrology, water resource management, and his clients' legal, business, and financial objectives.
John's experience includes Superfund cost recovery and defense, water resources adjudication, water quality permitting and enforcement, environmental forensics, toxic tort defense, and contractual allocation of environmental liabilities.
John regularly appears before the Special Water Master to defend our clients' water rights in Arizona's general stream adjudications. John has counseled clients, and regularly appears for them in court, regarding some of the most complex and important water resource issues facing Arizona water users today. John has participated in the presentation, argument, and resolution of those issues through settlement and litigation.
In other areas, he has represented clients on corporate transactions involving extensive due diligence and has ushered the transacting parties through the transfer of environmental permits and authorizations, securing required approvals from regulatory authorities.
John understands the importance of maintaining a steady focus on his clients' legal and business objectives when collaborating with technical consultants in water resources, environmental regulatory, and litigation matters. Working alongside scientists and engineers, John has counseled clients in regulatory strategies for environmental remediation and closure projects and has addressed a variety of permitting and compliance challenges as well as litigation. In his water resources practice, John regularly works with experts to develop the technical basis for protecting the rights of clients who rely on groundwater pumped from wells. In both areas, he has overseen the development of persuasive expert testimony and is adept at managing the generation, storage, and discovery of technical data and communications to preserve applicable privileges for the benefit of his clients' information security.
Prior to private practice, John served as a law clerk with the Arizona Supreme Court and the Arizona Court of Appeals. While attending law school, he was an articles editor for the Arizona State Law Journal and graduated magna cum laude, ranking second in his class. He was recognized by the State Bar of Arizona for placing among the top three highest scores on the July 1997 bar exam.
Ushered the buyer and seller of a large open-pit copper mine through the complex regulatory process for transfer of environmental permits and authorizations
Developed persuasive expert testimony, managed discovery, prepared briefs and motions, and presented our clients’ case in multiple trials before the Special Water Master in the Gila Adjudication on issues affecting the rights of well owners to continue pumping groundwater from their wells
Developed persuasive expert testimony, managed discovery, prepared briefs and motions, and participated in negotiation and drafting of settlement in multi-party litigation involving cost recovery at one of the largest environmental sites in Arizona
Managed discovery, prepared briefs and motions, and negotiated over a dozen settlements for a client in complex insurance coverage litigation involving environmental remediation liability
Prepared defense for a client against a multi-million dollar claim under Arizona fee-shifting statute, including development of expert testimony documenting unreasonableness of opposing parties' attorneys' fees
Counseled mining industry client through planning and implementation of a voluntary remediation project involving cleanup of contaminated soil located in a residential area of a former mining town in cooperation with environmental consultants
Arizona State University, Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law (J.D., magna cum laude, 1997)
Order of the Coif
Articles Editor, Arizona State Law Journal
Ohio Wesleyan University (B.A., summa cum laude, 1991)
Phi Beta Kappa
State Bar of Arizona
Environmental and Natural Resources Law Section
Executive Council Member (2013-2021)
Maricopa County Bar Association
Environmental Law Section
Executive Board Member (2003-2011)
"Arizona Groundwater Policy," Co-Author, The Water Report: Water Rights, Water Quality & Water Solutions in the West (August 2023)
"Water Law in the Southwest: Overview of Water Law in the Southwest,” Presenter, Snell & Wilmer Virtual CLE Series (June 27, 2023)
“Groundwater in Arizona: What Does the New Phoenix Active Management Area Model Mean for Future Growth?,” Presenter, Webinar (June 28, 2023)