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A week in the life of a Maritime Lawyer

written by: domanconsulting • edited by: Lamar Stonecypher • updated: 1/31/2009

Many people consider a career in law, but for many, the decision of what area of law to practice can be daunting. While many look to practice in the exciting world of criminal law many overlook the benefits that can be provided to those lucky enough to choose Maritime law.

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    Introduction

    The job of a maritime lawyer is to see to it that any issues regarding maritime law are dealt with fairly in the courts where they are tried. This can take on many and varied elements from the essentially mundane, non-headline grabbing issues that occur every day to those of greater impact, and a practising maritime lawyer will be required to do his or her level best within the law to see that his client is covered by the laws of the sea in all practices pertaining to their role.

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    The Marine Lawyer

    For the average maritime lawyer, an average working week can take in more differing cases than most people will realise. The image conjured up by the two words “maritime law" will be different for each person. For some it may bring forth the idea of the lawyer carrying out a check of paperwork pertaining to the loading and unloading of a container ship to guarantee that everything is administrated correctly. For others it will call to mind the lawyer in the courtroom fighting a case of criminal negligence – for a defendant or a plaintiff – to ensure that their client gets the best result they possibly can. The truth is that a maritime lawyer’s job can take in all of these aspects and numerous others.

    Diverse Areas

    Maritime law covers all activities partaken at sea, from powerboat racing off the coast of a country to the transport of cargo, from business to pleasure. Though issues of harassment or other illegal activity pertaining to an activity that takes place mostly or entirely in port may seem to many to fall under the heading of everyday law, the fact that it has taken place on navigable waters renders it a case of maritime law, with specific issues to be taken into account that fall under maritime jurisdiction. If, as a consequence of an accident unloading a boat in dry dock, an individual is injured in a significant way, it may very well be that he takes his case to a maritime personal injury lawyer or a maritime accident lawyer.

    Requirements

    To work as a maritime lawyer it is important to have a full and thorough understanding of the minutiae and principles of maritime law as laid down and governed by the International Maritime Organisation as well as the “dry land" laws laid down by individual states or nations in which one may practise. This can and does include specialisation in the principles of Maritime Tort Law, various conventions pertaining to liability for loss and death on the high seas. The life and the practice of a maritime lawyer can be a great deal more varied than most people realise. It is perhaps fair to say, in fact, that the only person who truly knows what can and cannot be covered by the umbrella of maritime law is the maritime lawyer himself (or herself). And even then, with the principles of maritime law subject to change just as any other law, the maritime lawyer needs to keep on their toes to make sure they are au fait.