Career Pathways: Admiralty and Maritime Law

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Admiralty and Maritime Law governs issues relating to the law of the sea.  Issues may be purely domestic or may involve international law to resolve disputes.  This broad area of law covers issues such as jurisdiction, torts, and contracts.

Maritime law attorneys practice in a variety of sub-specialties.  For instance, attorneys may represent clients who are injured while on cruises in international waters.  Generally, ship owners and operators owe a duty of care to passengers.  Sometimes cruise lines or their employees may have acted negligently or have fallen below this standard of care causing injury to passengers.  In such cases, maritime law attorneys help their clients navigate the many complex tort and contractual issues that might arise (not to mention the conflict of laws that can arise where the injury occurs in international waters). 

Maritime law attorneys may also represent clients in domestic or international trade.  In these instances, they often address contractual and insurance concerns such as shipping contracts, bills of lading, etc.

Job Types Typical Duties

Federal Agencies

  • Research topics.
  • Propose legislation and make rules and regulations.
State Agencies
  • Oversee and implement government policy regarding travel at sea.
  • Issue or revoke licenses.
  • Create agency regulations.
Local Government
  • County Commissioner
  • County Attorney’s Office​
  • Create and enforce local ordinance.
Private Law Firms
  • Defend clients against tort claims arising out of their business activities on navigable waters.
  • Help clients obtain shipping and boating licenses.
  • Represent clients against the boating and shipping industry.
  • Draft contracts for businesses regarding personal watercraft activities.

Other Activities

  • Obtain an internship with an admiralty and maritime law attorney or firm.
  • Compete in law student maritime writing and moot court competitions.
  • Periodically check Symplicity Job Board for opportunities in this area of law. 

Curriculum Considerations

Take a look at the Law Curriculum Mapping Guide to see courses related to a career in Admiralty and Maritime Law.  In addition, it will help you identify faculty that you can speak to regarding this area of practice.