John H. Mabey Jr. 

John Mabey’s law practice specializes in all matters related to Utah water law and water rights. He is a partner in the firm of Mabey Wright & James where he represents cities and other public water suppliers, irrigation companies, mining and industrial companies, and various business and development interests.

Prior to going into private practice in July 2000, Mr. Mabey served nearly 14 years as a Utah Assistant Attorney General where he was counsel to the Utah State Engineer and the Utah Division of Water Rights. There he provided daily consultation to the State Engineer regarding all aspects of water rights and State Engineer policies, water rights litigation and general adjudications. He also assisted in the development of groundwater management plans and appropriation policies in Cache Valley, Utah Valley, Salt Lake Valley and in other locations throughout the State of Utah. Mr. Mabey served as Chair of the Water Law Committee for the Utah State Bar and is a Reporter for the Water Law Newsletter of the Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation.

Prior to graduating from the University of Utah College of Law in 1985, Mr. Mabey obtained a B.S. degree from Brigham Young University in Geography/Land Use Planning with a double minor in Geology and Spanish. He worked two years as the City Planner for Riverton, Utah.

John grew up in South Jordan, Utah on what is now recognized as the Mabey Centennial Farm. He still sees sugar beets in his sleep.

Professional Activities

  • Recognized in Best Law Firms by U.S. News and World Report
  • Listed in Utah’s Legal Elite
  • Utah State Bar, 1985 to present
  • Admitted to United States Supreme Court, 1993
  • Admitted to United States District Court
  • Member, Utah Legislature’s Task Force on Water Issues, Working Group, 2004-2006
  • Chair, Water Law Committee of the Energy, Natural Resources and Environmental Law Section, Utah State Bar, 1988-1990


“Is It Time for a Utah Water Court,” panel participant, Water Law & Policy Seminar (March 2011)

“Water Rights Update: Caselaw and Legislation,” Utah Water Law Conference (October 2009)

“Utah Forfeiture of Water Rights,” Utah State Bar NLCLE (October 2008)

“HB 51 and Forfeiture,” Utah Water Law Conference (October 2008)

“Water Rights Law Update,“ Utah Water Law Conference (October 2006)

“Federal Project Water in Utah: The Nuts and Bolts of the Strawberry Case,“ Water Law & Policy Seminar (March 2006)

“Groundwater Case Law and Legal Issues in Utah,” Utah Legislative Task Force Studying Water Issues (October 2004)

“Water Reuse and Water Rights: The State Engineer, the Courts and the Legislature Jump In,” Utah Water Law Conference (October 2004)

“Utah Water Law and Recent Legislation,” Utah Association of Conservation Districts Workshops (June and December 2002)

“Water Distribution in Times of Shortage,” Utah Water Law Conference (October 2002)

“Legislative and Case Law Update,” Water Law & Policy Seminar (March 2001)

“Managing and Protecting Municipal Water Rights,” Utah Water Law Conference (November 2000)

“Canal and Irrigation Companies — Liable or Not?” Utah Farm Bureau Midyear Conference, Logan, Utah (July 2000)

“Change Applications: Historical Highlights of Utah Statutes and Case Law,” Water Law & Policy Seminar (March 1999)

“Important Current Developments in Utah Water Law,” Utah Water Law Conference (October 1998)

“Historical Highlights of Utah Water Law: The Utah State Engineer, a Century of Service,” Utah Water Users’ Workshop (March 1998)

“Adjudication of Water Rights in Utah General Adjudication Proceedings,” The Cambridge Institute Seminar on Utah Water Rights (1996)

“Groundwater Law in Utah,” Utah Water Users’ Workshop (March 1995)

“Water Right General Adjudications in Utah: Their Current Status and Future Direction,” (Joint presentation with Utah State Engineer, Robert L. Morgan) Water Law & Policy Seminar (March 1995)

“Utah Water Law: Recent Court Decisions,” Utah Water Users’ Workshop (March 1994)

“General Adjudications,” Utah Water Law Conference (November 1993)

“Federal Reserved Water Right Claims in Utah,” Water Law & Policy Seminar (March 1991)

“Administrative Practice Before the Utah State Engineer,” Utah Water Law in the 1990’s (October 1990)