Ferguson & Coppes, PLLC is A Natural Resource Law Firm.
We strive to provide exceptional legal services to anyone with an interest in Montana’s vast natural resources. Our clients include individuals, landowners, water users, family farms and ranches, non-profit corporations, water users associations, municipalities and small communities throughout Montana. Our attorneys have proven success resulting from knowledgeable, effective, and specialized advocacy that is tailored to meet the needs of our clients and to achieve positive results.
Our attorneys have successfully advocated for our clients’ needs since Ferguson Law Office was formed in 2007. John Ferguson, who founded the Montana Water Trust in 2001 and served as executive director, transitioned to private practice in 2007 with the goal of providing specialized legal services and powerful advocacy for our clients. Graham Coppes joined the firm in 2015 and shared the goal of providing high-quality, specialized legal services to our clients. After many years of achieving successful results in both litigation and non-litigation contexts, John and Graham formed Ferguson & Coppes, PLLC in 2022.
Our firm has a unique depth of experience in natural resource law that strategically positions us to handle a wide-range of legal issues and we have the commitment, dedication, experience, and knowledge to achieve our clients’ goals. Our attorneys are proven leaders and experts in the field of natural resource law and are dedicated to serving your legal needs in a trustworthy and results-driven manner to achieve positive outcomes for you. We build lasting relationships with our clients, which is a testament to our legal skills, responsiveness, and ability to understand our clients’ goals.
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John began practicing law in 1999 after obtaining his law degree from the University of Montana School of Law in 1998 and his Master’s Degree in Environmental Studies in 1999. John then worked for the Portland, Oregon law firm Bullivant Houser Bailey, where he developed his litigation skills. John moved back to Missoula, Montana in 2001 and co-founded the Montana Water Trust, serving as Executive Director for six years. During this period John negotiated and drafted water leases, facilitated change-of-use applications through the DNRC, attended trainings on water measurement techniques, worked in the field with staff to measure and monitor streamflows for transactions, and led the legal department.
In 2007, John established Ferguson Law Office, PLLC, where he continued his litigation and transactional practice in water law, property law, natural resource law, and criminal law. With Ferguson & Coppes, PLLC John continues to handle complex water right litigation, property and real estate litigation, ditch easement and road related disputes, environmental law cases, and other natural resource law matters. As part of his practice, John appears before the Montana Water Court, State District Courts, the Montana Supreme Court, and the Federal District Court and handles contested-case proceedings before the DNRC.
John lives in Missoula with his wife Hadley and daughter Sarah. He enjoys hiking, floating Montana’s rivers, playing guitar, traveling, and spending time with family and friends.
Graham owns and operates Ferguson & Coppes, PLLC with John Ferguson. Since day one, Graham’s legal practice has focused on Montana’s most valuable natural resource – water.
Graham’s interest in water law began on Montana’s wildest rivers, where he spent a decade guiding clients with dry flies in the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex. Eventually, his interest earned him a J.D. from the University of Montana School of Law and an L.L.M. in Natural Resource Law from the University of Denver, Sturm College of Law. During law school Graham served as the Editor-in-Chief of the Public Lands and Resources Law Review and interned for Chief Water Judge Russ McElyea at the Montana Water Court. Today, Graham represents a diverse range of clients who seek to responsibly use and defend Montana’s natural resources. Most commonly, Graham helps his clients navigate Montana’s complicated, multi-venue process for water litigation – whether involving surface and groundwater permitting through DNRC, adjudication of historical water rights at the Montana Water Court, or enforcement of existing rights in Montana’s district court. Outside of his water law practice, Graham also frequently represents individuals and non-profits in cases involving endangered species and environmental administrative procedures with federal land management agencies.
Emily Wilmott has worked as an attorney at Ferguson & Coppes, PLLC since 2016. Emily predominantly practices in state and federal environmental, natural resources and property law. Emily has prosecuted successful environmental and natural resource cases for individuals, conservationists, citizens-groups and environmental non-profits. Her practice also includes representing clients in complex water-related matters, land transactions and real property disputes. Emily is admitted to practice in all Montana State Courts, all United States District Courts in Montana and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. She is a member of the State Bar of Montana’s Water Law and Natural Resources Sections and serves on the board of the Watershed Education Network.
Emily received a Bachelor of Science from State University of New York’s College of Environmental Science and Forestry, which laid the foundation for her passion in environmental policy and water resources. In 2015, she earned her Juris Doctor with a Certificate in Water Resource Law from Vermont Law School. While in law school, Emily served as a Water and Justice Associate at Vermont’s Water and Justice program and worked as lead clinician for two semesters at the nation’s top-ranked Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic.
After law school, Emily relocated to the beautiful Missoula, Montana and continues to enjoy and explore the Big Sky Country.
Taylor graduated from Alexander Blewett III School of Law, formerly University of Montana School of Law, in 2020 and began working for Ferguson and Coppes, PLLC shortly after. While in law school, Taylor served as the Sustainability Coordinator for the Student Bar Association and as a student representative for the Montana Bar Association’s Water Law Section. Taylor completed her clinic experience during law school with the National Wildlife Federation, where she gained valuable advocacy experience and a great appreciation for beavers. Born and raised in Montana, Taylor’s passion for the state’s land, water, and wildlife resources was solidified at a young age and has always been the inspiration for her professional interest in water, property, and environmental law.
Dan is a graduate of the University of Montana School of Law where he earned certificates in American Indian Law and Natural Resources and Environmental Law and served as editor-in-chief of the Public Land & Resources Law Review. While in law school, he served as a judicial intern for the Honorable Dana L. Christensen, Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana, performed international policy work related to the trans-boundary impacts of mining for the Flathead Lake Biological Station, and interned with Ferguson Law Office.
In addition to his J.D., Dan holds an M.S. in Environmental Studies from the University of Montana and a B.S. in English from the University of Vermont.
Dan enjoys spending time with his daughter, traveling, and adventuring in the mountains and on the water. He spent twenty years protecting wildlife in the Yellowstone ecosystem as executive director with the Buffalo Field Campaign, an experience that inspired his book of essays, In the Presence of Buffalo and his passion for protecting public lands and wildlife and his practice in the fields of Federal Indian, water, natural resource, and property law. Dan lives near the Jocko River in the shadow of Montana’s majestic Mission Mountains.
Taylor was born and raised in Havre, MT. She has since called quite a few places home, but has happily landed back in Missoula, for good this time! She graduated from Southern New Hampshire University with a Bachelors of Arts in Anthropology and will complete her Masters of History with a concentration in Public History in January 2023.
Outside of the office, Taylor loves to cook and can almost always be found with a book in her hand. She enjoys spending time with her partner Chris, their very energetic son Enzo, and his partners in crime Nala, Biggie Smalls, and Clyde.
As a critical member of the office team, Tippet provides support both to the attorneys and clients. Her duties often involve crumb prevention and walk coordination. When not in the office, Tippet prefers to be swimming in the river, chasing pheasants in the field, or skiing powder.