Leaning into the Law of the Sea
By Desiree Goff • November 01, 2020•Ms. JD, Writers in Residence
Continuing on in our search of leading women attorneys at the intersection of legal and scientific fields, we are looking at the practice of Admiralty or Maritime Law for this month. A somewhat obscure area of law practice, admiralty or maritime law is the body of law that governs navigation and shipping, both substantively and procedurally.* While not necessarily scientifically based, it combines ocean policy, admiralty, and maritime commerce. For example, anything from accidents due to colliding fishing vessels, discovery of sunken treasures, the employee rights of those working at sea, and environmental conflicts such as toxic waste dumps may all fall under this area of practice.
Three women were named to the Top 10 Maritime Lawyers of 2019 by Lloyd’s List.** These women are recognized as leaders in this field, but they are also using their positions to mentor and advance other women attorneys behind them. For example, in 2018, Gina Lee-Wan was the only female attorney to be recognized by the publication. Ms. Lee- Wan was recently recognized as a senior accredited specialist in Maritime and Shipping Law by the Singapore Academy of Law. Her practice focuses primarily on shipping, offshore and aviation financing, leasing and equity transactions, and ship construction, sale, and purchase.*** Rita Al Semaani Jansen, who works in Dubai, uses her position to push for greater balance in the legal industry and works to empower women in the maritime industry in the Middle East. Lindsey Keeble specializes in structured finance and leasing for offshore and port infrastructure assets and in the cruise industry. Ms. Keeble was actively involved in drafting the Poseidon Principles which recently adopted a new set of environmentally-based criteria, which in part is working to reduce shipping emissions and is the first global climate alignment agreement between financial institutions and the shipping industry.** Whether by mentoring the women who follow in their footsteps or in pioneering landmark initiatives, these women are examples of what a practice in maritime law can achieve.
If you want to pursue a career in Maritime Law, the vastness of practice opportunities means that almost any attorney can find an area that interests them. From shipyard contracts and vessel sales to mass disasters, torts, and class actions, this body of law offers plenty of variety and can encompass environmental issues as well. Tulane Law School offers more admiralty and maritime law courses than any other law school in the U.S. Opportunities such as a Maritime Law Society and trips to maritime industry locations are available. Post-graduate students can choose to attend the University of Miami School of Law, University of Hawaii at Manoa, or the Florida Coastal School of Law for L.L.M. programs in maritime law as well.
Women currently represent only 2% of the world’s 1.2 million seafarers.**** Encouraging greater representation in the maritime industry as a whole includes the practice of law. Here’s to hoping future Top 10 rankings will reflect less gender disparity.
**Lloyd’s List. Top 10 Maritime Lawyers 2019. <https://lloydslist.maritimeintelligence.informa.com/LL1130261/Top-10-maritime-lawyers-2019>
****International Maritime Organization. Women in Maritime. <https://www.imo.org/en/OurWork/TechnicalCooperation/Pages/WomenInMaritime.aspx>
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