A lawyer who practices a specific area of law that is known as maritime law is called a Maritime Lawyer. Maritime lawyers are knowledgeable in the distinct body of law known as maritime or admiralty law. This body of law governs all activities and offenses that happen on navigable waters such as oceans, rivers, streams and lakes. Activities such as loading and unloading of ships are also governed by maritime lawyers since they are maritime in nature, even if they take place on land.
United States maritime law applies to all cases that involve injuries or accidents on the waterways of the United States, at sea or in the Gulf of Mexico. Over the last 200 years, maritime law in the United States has evolved and has become very specialized.
Because maritime law is very specific, sometimes, only the lawyers who are trained and experienced in that area are familiar with the actual rules and laws that apply. Maritime legal cases typically involve separate claims, including those under a statute which is known as the Jones Act, claims that are based on ‘general maritime law’, claims that are based on the Death on the High Seas Act, as well as claims based on the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act.
The job description of a maritime lawyer includes representing clients or businesses in cases that relate to the seas, oceans as well as other open bodies of water. Maritime law is one of the oldest branches of law, and as such, it covers a wide and broad area of issues that range from injuries and working conditions at sea to areas such as shipping, commerce, recreational boating and even environmental issues.
Maritime lawyers are also capable of drafting documents, negotiating agreements, handling complaints about injuries caused by seacraft or a company that disposes its waste into water, and even arguing cases in court.
Some of the tasks that maritime lawyers accomplish are reviewing or drafting contracts, interviewing witnesses or writing insurance arguments. Maritime lawyers also protect or defend companies or individuals from any personal injury lawsuits. Both international corporations and government agencies can hire maritime lawyers to work for them. Because of the nature of their work, most maritime lawyers work near bodies of water.
In order to become a maritime lawyer, you must first earn an undergraduate degree and graduate from a law school that is accredited. He or she must then pass the bar exam in the state where he or she intends to practice as a maritime lawyer, except for those in Louisiana and Washington where lawyers are not required to pass a state bar exam. Most lawyers have bachelor’s degrees in political science, social science, history and English.