Board Certified California Attorney in Admiralty and Maritime Law

Certified Specialist in Admiralty & Maritime Law in CA

California Bar Board of Legal Specialization

At Lawyer Legion we recognize the importance of the board certification program in maritime and admiralty law in California. These programs provide a powerful tool when the public begins their search for an attorney. In California, the board certification for admiralty and maritime law is awarded by The State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization.

Only California attorneys board certified in admiralty and maritime law can advertise or identify themselves as "certified specialists" or "board certified" in California for that field.

The Standards for board certification in admiralty and maritime law must be read in conjunction with the Rules Governing the State Bar of California Program for Certifying Legal Specialists.


Definition of Admiralty and Maritime Law in California

The definition of the term "Admiralty and Maritime law" is the practice of law dealing with substantive and procedural aspects of the law that governs vessels, navigation and shipping.

Admiralty and Maritime Law is defined to include the statutes and regulations that govern the the impact of pollution upon navigable waters, the operation of vessels, piers, marinas, and under certain circumstances, may include these activities on the high seas. The term admiralty and maritime law is also defined to include the following:

  • Personal injury and other claims by maritime workers and passengers;
  • Marine insurance;
  • Salvage and wreck removal;
  • Debts and torts of vessels;
  • Vessel charters;
  • Cargo damage or loss, piracy, pilotage and towage;
  • Carriage of goods;
  • Marine pollution; and
  • Marine casualties.

Requirements for Admiralty and Maritime Law Certification in California

The maritime lawyer who applies for board certification with The State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization must demonstrate that during the applicable time period he or she has been substantially involved in the practice of admiralty and maritime law.

For the topic of choice of forum or forum non-conveniens issues in an interstate or international contract the following types of cases can be used to show substantial involvement including:

  • Legal liability for the loss of or damage to cargo transported under an ocean bill of lading;
  • Liability and or damages in a maritime personal injury or wrongful death claim;
  • Liability and other maritime tort claims, including collision or pollution claims, and/or marine products liability;
  • An arrest of a vessel to the conclusion of the action;
  • A Motion for Interlocutory Sale of a vessel;
  • The ranking or validity of two or more competing maritime liens;
  • A claim for a maritime lien under the California Harbors and Navigation Code’s “Boaters Lien Law” through to the conclusion of the action;
  • The rights of either a claimant or employer in an LHWCA proceeding before an Administrative Law Judge through to a final award; or
  • A wrongful arrest action through to the conclusion of the action.

For the topic of proper venue in admiralty and maritime law different types of cases can be used to demonstrate substantial involvement including:

  • Proper venue in an in rem or quasi in rem action;
  • Removal of a maritime cause of action from state to federal court;
  • Proper venue in action for maritime personal injury, including an action against a Jones Act employer, a shipowner or a passenger carrier;
  • The factors justifying the transfer of venue pursuant to 28 USC Sec. 1404;
  • Venue pursuant to 28 USC Section 1391; and/or
  • Proper venue under the Suits in Admiralty Act, the Public Vessels Act or a Limitation Action.

For the topic of admiralty jurisdiction different types of cases can be used to demonstrate substantial involvement including:

  • The operation of the savings to suitors clause;
  • The basis of admiralty jurisdiction;
  • The consequences of admiralty jurisdiction;
  • The doctrine of exclusive admiralty jurisdiction;
  • The basis for supplemental jurisdiction over non-maritime claims; and
  • An action involving the operation of the Admiralty Extension Act.

For the topic of choice of law in admiralty and maritime law different types of cases can be used to demonstrate substantial involvement including

  • Application of the Lauritzen / Rhoditis factors;
  • The creation of a maritime lien upon a vessel operated by an owner undergoing Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization;
  • The operation of a choice of law clause in a maritime contract governing actions in either contract or tort or both;
  • The effect of a bankruptcy court automatic stay upon an in rem proceeding; and
  • Role of state law in a maritime law action.

Substantial involvement can include preparing and drafting a brief, contract, pleading or other legal document or report including drafting a motion to determine:

  • The impact of the Flotilla Rule upon the limitation fund or limitation amount;
  • The ability of party to qualify as a “shipowner” entitled to limit its liability;
  • The right of a shipowner to limit its liability; and
  • The valuation of the fund or limitation amount.

Other Factors Showing Substantial Involvement

Substantial involvement can also involve:

  • Authoring a brief filed in a dispositive hearing or trial in state or federal district court where issues of substantive admiralty and maritime law is decided;
  • Providing substantive written legal advice or analysis to a client, claimant, or other interested party regarding the existence, validity or ranking of maritime liens;
  • Providing substantive written legal advice or analysis to a client, claimant or other interested party evaluating the merits or value of a maritime personal injury or wrongful death claim or a defense to such a claim;
  • Acting as the attorney primarily responsible for preparing and filing a complaint asserting a claim for maritime personal injury;
  • Preparing a letter of undertaking or other form of security to avert an arrest or effectuate the release of a vessel under arrest;
  • Preparing and filing a petition for Limitation of Liability under the Limitation of Ship Owners’ Liability Act; or
  • An Answer and claim in a limitation of liability action.

Substantial involvement can include preparing a maritime contract including:

  • A contract of marine insurance;
  • A wharfage contract;
  • A towage contract;
  • A salvage contract;
  • A first preferred ship’s mortgage;
  • A bill of lading or other contract of carriage;
  • A ticket contract or other contract for passage;
  • Maritime terminal facilities or terminal service agreements; or
  • A ship repair or boat yard work order contract.

Substantial involvement can also include providing substantive written legal advice or analysis to a client, claimant, or other interested party regarding the following:

  • A claim for the collection of freight and/or the enforcement of a lien for unpaid freight;
  • The existence, value, merits and/or defenses to a salvage claim;
  • The merits and/or defenses to a claim for unpaid wages, unearned wages, penalty wages, or maintenance and cure; or
  • The existence, scope, limitations and/or defenses to coverage under a marine insurance policy.

Substantial involvement can involve certain types of vessel transactions including:

  • Hiring of crew, provisioning the vessel, or tendering the vessel pursuant to a charter party;
  • Representing a seller or purchaser in a vessel construction and/or sale transaction through to the conclusion of the construction and sale and the finalization of the vessel sale contract;
  • Representing a shipowner or charterer in negotiation and drafting a charter party through its execution; or
  • Representing an owner in obtaining the documentation of a U.S. flagged vessel or continuing its documentation following rebuild.

Other Types of Experience Demonstrating Substantial Involvement

In addition, the attorney can demonstrate substantial involvement though other types of experience including testifying or consulting on a matter of substantive U.S. admiralty or maritime law or the standard of care or custom of practice in handling an admiralty and maritime law matter.

Other types of experience can include acting as a judge, arbitrator, special master or mediator in admiralty cases. On a case by case basis the commission will consider industry experience, such attendance at a maritime academy or having been licensed as a mariner.

Finally, substantial involvement can include preparing preparing a mediation brief and representing a client at mediation or in a matter before an administrative agency/entity in connection with:

  • Licensing of maritime personnel;
  • Issuance of ocean bills of lading or publication of tariffs;
  • A U.S. Coast Guard administrative proceeding;
  • The operation of vessels or watercraft;
  • Licensing of non-vessel operating common carrier or freight forwarder;
  • The operation of a pier or marine terminal; or
  • Filing a report of maritime casualty or in connection with a U.S. Coast Guard maritime casualty investigation.

Educational Requirements for Certification in Admiralty or Maritime Law

A California admiralty or maritime lawyer who applies for board certification must demonstrate that during the applicable time period he or she has completed 45 hours of continuing legal education classes or activities specifically approved for Admiralty and Maritime law, or has received an LL.M degree in maritime law from a law school accredited by the American Bar Association or an equivalent degree.


Alternative to Written Requirements

As an alternative to the requirement of passing a written examination, an attorney can demonstrate that he or she authored a chapter in a treatise or at least two articles on maritime legal issues published in a journal, law review, maritime trade publication or similar periodical.

Likewise, an alternative to the written requirements could involve speaking on maritime law issues at an approved continuing legal education seminar, or before a maritime industry or trade organizations.

Additionally, teaching classes on admiralty law, providing expert testimony, or serving as an editor for the American Maritime Cases can constitute an alternative to written examination requirements under certain circumstances.


Requirements for Recertification

After the initial certification in maritime law, the attorney must submit to recertification every give years. Recertification involves demonstrating continued substantial involvement, completing continuing education requirements, and/or earning an LL.M degree in maritime law.


For more information on specialty certification in Admiralty and Maritime Law:

California Board of Legal Specialization
180 Howard Street
San Francisco, CA 94105
Phone 415-538-2120


Finding a Board Certified Admiralty Attorney in California

The search to find a good maritime attorney in California can be a daunting task. At Lawyer Legion we make that task easier by properly recognizing board certified attorneys in our online directory.