Paul J. Zilis

Professional Experience

Partner Emeritus, Vranesh and Raisch LLP, Boulder, Colorado
January, 2021 to Present
Partner, Vranesh and Raisch LLP, Boulder, Colorado
October, 1987 to December, 2020
Attorney, Vranesh and Raisch LLP, Boulder, Colorado
April, 1983 to September, 1987

Mr. Zilis' practice has focused on water rights, real property issues related to water rights, and environmental law, including the following areas:

  • Representation of numerous governmental entities, companies and individuals regarding all water rights matters, including adjudications in Water Court, appeals to the Colorado Supreme Court, acquisition, sales, analyses, annexation issues and title investigations.
  • Development, adjudication and administration of water projects, plans for augmentation and water rights transfers.
  • Federal and interstate issues, including interstate compacts and federal legislation affecting water use.
  • Analysis, evaluation, and negotiations with federal, state, and local agencies regarding environmental permitting, land use regulations, and funding.
  • Real estate law including quiet title actions and real estate transactions.
  • Special counsel to eight municipalities and two counties.
Aquatic Biologist, University of Colorado
June, 1978 to August, 1980
  • Wetland analysis for purposes of federal dredge and fill permits.
  • Analysis of abandoned mine drainage for allocation of federal clean-up funds.
  • Fish and invertebrate population studies for preparation of Environmental Impact Studies.
  • Water chemistry analysis.


Juris Doctor, 1982
University of Colorado School of Law, Boulder, Colorado
Bachelor of Arts, Environmental Biology, 1978
University of Colorado, Boulder Colorado

Professional Affiliations

American Bar Association, Environment, Energy, and Resources Section and Litigation Section
Colorado Bar Association, Environmental Law Section and Water Law Section
Boulder County Bar Association, Co-Chairman, Natural Resources and Environmental Law Committee 1985, 1986
Elected to Sigma Xi (Honorary Scientific Association)

Bar Admission

Mr. Zilis is admitted to practice law in the State of Colorado and in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado.

Present Awards


Denver Regional Council of Governments, First Place Local Government Innovations Award
Elected to American Law Society - 2017 - Official Home of America's Top Lawyers
Top Rated Lawyers of Denver - 2017
Martindale-Hubble Award for Highest Possible Ranking in Both Legal Ability and Ethical Standards - 2023

Selected Publications and Presentations

  • Zilis, P., Curran, R., Spring, 1999. "Colorado Supreme Court Prevents Collateral Attack on Previously Litigated Change of Use Decrees." University of Denver Water Law Review, Vol. 2, Issue 2.
  • Zilis, P., 1997. "Acquisition of Water Rights for Growing Municipalities," presented at the 75th Annual Conference, Colorado Municipal League, June 24-28, 1997.
  • Zilis, P., Clifton, G., 1993. "Recent Developments in Appropriations for Instream Uses." Colorado Lawyer, Vol. 22, No. 5.
  • Zilis, P., 1987. "Colorado's Approach to Section 404 Dredge and Fill Permits," presented at the Sixth Annual Water Management Seminar, Vail, Colorado, January 10-18, 1987.
  • Zilis, P., 1986. "Colorado Ground Water Law," presented at the Fifth Annual Water Management Seminar, Vail, Colorado, January 18-25, 1986.
  • Zilis, P., 1984. "Recent Developments in Colorado Water Law." Boulder County Bar Association Newsletter.
  • Zilis, P. and M. Shimmin, 1984. "The Impact of Ground Water Laws on Mining: A Survey of the Rules Governing Dewatering of Mines and Utilization of Ground Water," presented at the National Water Well Association Conference on the Impact of Mining on Ground Water, Denver, Colorado, August 27-28, 1984.
  • Zilis, P. and J. Windell, 1979. "Number, Length, Elevation and Directional Exposure of Ephemeral Headwater Streams in Colorado." Journal of the Colorado-Wyoming Academy of Science 11(1):13.
  • Zilis, P., 1978. "A Stream Order Analysis of Available Fish Habitat for the Roaring Fork River." Journal of the Colorado-Wyoming Academy of Science. 10(1):14.

Professional Activities

Managing Editor - Colorado Water Law Benchbook, CLE in Colorado

Volunteer / Charity Activities

Alternatives for Youth, Board of Directors, 1993 - 2004
Jazzgoods, General Manager, 2005 - Present
Children’s Hospital Volunteer, 2008 - 2020
Zed Farms, LLC, Founder and Member, 2021 - Present
Trees, Water and People, Board of Directors, 2021 - Present


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