Board Certified in Admiralty and Maritime Law

Florida Bar Board of Legal Specialization and EducationThe Florida Board of Legal Specialization and Education (BLSE) of The Florida Bar governs the rules and policies for each of the certification areas and oversees the committees that implement each areas's standards.

For Maritime and Admiralty Law, the purpose of the standards is to identify those lawyers who practice admiralty and maritime law and who have demonstrated special knowledge, skills and proficiency to be properly identified to the public as board certified in admiralty and maritime law.

Rule 6-17.1 provides that "[a] lawyer who is a member in good standing of The Florida Bar and meets the standards prescribed below may be issued an appropriate certificate identifying the lawyer as "Board Certified in Admiralty and Maritime Law."

 FInd a Lawyer in Florida Board Certified in Admiralty and Maritime Law.


Definitions for Admiralty and Maritime Law in Florida

Rule 6-17.2 sets out the definitions for Admiralty and Maritime Law in Florida including:

(a) Admiralty Law.

"Admiralty and Maritime Law" is that distinct and separate practice of law dealing with the corpus of rules, concepts, and legal practices governing vessels, the shipping industry, the carrying of goods and passengers by water as well as related maritime concepts.

Admiralty and maritime law includes the substantive law and procedural rules associated with the general maritime law of the United States, admiralty jurisdiction and procedure, personal injury and wrongful death of seamen and passengers aboard vessels, compensation for injury and wrongful death of longshoremen and harbor workers, government regulation of marine safety and the maritime industry, carriage of goods, charter parties, salvage, general average, collision, marine insurance, maritime liens, limitation of liability, marine pollution and environmental law, maritime arbitration, recreational vessels, vessel finance and documentation, international aspects of maritime practice as well as other maritime topics which because of their special history, as well as for historical and practical reasons, have been recognized as distinctly different from our modern system of common law and have been traditionally grouped and practiced as "admiralty and maritime law."

(b) Practice of Law.

A minimum of 5 years in the practice of law including substantial involvement in the practice of admiralty and maritime law as set forth in rule 6-17.3(b). The term "practice of law" as used in these standards shall be as defined in rule 6-3.5(c)(1).


Minimum Requirements for Admiralty and Maritime Law in Florida

Rule 6-17.3 sets out the minimum standards for admiralty and maritime law in Florida including:

(a) Minimum Period of Practice.

The applicant shall have been engaged in the practice of law in the United States, or engaged in the practice of United States law while in a foreign country, and shall have been a member in good standing of the bar of any state of the United States or the District of Columbia for period of 5 years as of the date of application.

Notwithstanding the definition of "practice of law" in rule 6-3.5(c)(1), receipt of an LL.M degree in admiralty law, ocean law, maritime law or such other related fields approved by the board of legal specialization and education and admiralty law certification committee from an approved law school shall be deemed to constitute 1 year of the practice of law for purposes of the 5-year practice requirement but not the 5-year bar membership requirement.

(b) Substantial Involvement.

The applicant must demonstrate substantial involvement in the practice of admiralty and maritime law during the 5 years immediately preceding the date of application, including devoting not less than 35 percent of such practice to admiralty and maritime law during each of the 3 years immediately preceding the date of application.

Except for the 3 years immediately preceding the date of application, upon the applicant's request and the recommendation of the admiralty and maritime law certification committee, the board of legal specialization and education may waive the requirement that the 5 years be "immediately preceding" the date of application if the board of legal specialization and education determines the waiver is warranted by special and compelling circumstances.

Except for the 3 years immediately preceding the date of application, receipt of an LL.M degree in admiralty law, ocean law, maritime law (or such other degree containing substantial admiralty and maritime law content as approved by the board of legal specialization and education) from an approved law school may substitute for 1 year of substantial involvement.

An applicant must furnish information concerning the frequency of work and the nature of issues involved. For the purposes of this section, the "practice of law" shall be as defined in rule 6-3.5(c)(1) except that it shall also include time devoted to lecturing and/or authoring books or articles on admiralty and maritime law if the applicant was engaged in the practice of law during such period. Demonstration of compliance with this requirement shall be made initially through a form of questionnaire approved by the admiralty law certification committee, but written or oral supplementation may be required.

(c) Peer Review.

The applicant shall submit the names and addresses of 5 other attorneys who are familiar with the applicant's practice, not including attorneys who currently practice in the applicant's law firm, who can attest to the applicant's special competence and substantial involvement in the field of admiralty and maritime law, as well as the applicant's character, ethics, and reputation for professionalism. 


No less than 2 references shall be board certified in admiralty and maritime law or shall have, in the judgment of the committee, an established and recognized admiralty and maritime law practice. The board of legal specialization and education and admiralty law certification committee may authorize references from persons other than attorneys and may also make such additional inquiries as they deem appropriate to complete peer review, as provided elsewhere in these rules.

(d) Education.

During the 3-year period immediately preceding the date of the application, the applicant must demonstrate completion of the continuing legal education requirements in admiralty and maritime law as follows. The required number of hours shall be established by the board of legal specialization and education and shall in no event be less than 50 hours. Credit for attendance at continuing legal education seminars shall be given only for programs that are directly related to admiralty and maritime law.

The education requirement may be satisfied by one or more of the following:

(1) attendance at continuing legal education seminars meeting the requirements set forth above;

(2) lecturing at, and/or serving on the steering committee of, such continuing legal education seminars;

(3) authoring books or articles published in professional periodicals or other professional publications;

(4) teaching courses in admiralty and maritime law and related subjects at an approved law school or other graduate level program presented by a recognized professional education association;

(5) such other methods as may be approved by the board of legal specialization and education and the admiralty certification committee.

The board of legal specialization and education and the admiralty law certification committee shall, by rule or regulation, establish standards applicable to this rule, including, but not limited to, the method of establishment of the number of hours allocable to any of the above-listed subdivisions. Such rules or regulations shall provide that hours shall be allocable to each separate but substantially different lecture, article, or other activity described in subdivisions (2), (3), and (4) above.

(e) Examination.

The applicant must pass an examination, applied uniformly to all applicants, that will be practical and comprehensive and designed to demonstrate special knowledge, skills, and proficiency in admiralty and maritime law topics including jurisdiction, procedure, personal injury and wrongful death, marine insurance and such other topics as may be selected by the admiralty certification committee. Such examination shall justify the representation of special competence in the field of admiralty law to the legal profession and the public.


Recertification in Admiralty and Maritime Law Certification

Rule 6-17.4 sets out the rules for recertification as a certified specialist in admiralty or maritime law in Florida. Recertification shall be pursuant to the following standards:

(a) Substantial Involvement.

A satisfactory showing, as determined by the board of legal specialization and education and the admiralty law certification committee, of continuous and substantial involvement in admiralty and maritime law throughout the period since the last date of certification. The demonstration of substantial involvement of at least 35 percent during each year of certification or prior recertification shall be made in accordance with the standards set forth in rule 6-17.3(b).

(b) Education.

Completion of at least 55 hours of approved continuing legal education since the filing of the last application for certification. This requirement shall be satisfied by the applicant's participation in approved continuing legal education pursuant to rule 6-17.3(d)(1) through (5).

(c) Peer Review.

Submission of the names and addresses of 3 individuals who are active in admiralty and maritime law, including but not limited to lawyers and judges who are familiar with the applicant's practice, excluding persons who are currently employed in the applicant's law firm, who can attest to the applicant's special competence and substantial involvement in the field of admiralty and maritime law, as well as the applicant's character, ethics, and reputation for professionalism, during the period since the last date of certification. 


The board of legal specialization and education or the admiralty law certification committee may solicit references from persons other than those whose names are submitted by the applicant and may also make additional inquiries as deemed appropriate.

(d) Examination.

If, after reviewing the material submitted by an applicant for recertification and the peer review, the admiralty law certification committee determines the applicant may not meet the standards for admiralty law certification established under this chapter, the applicant may be required, as a condition of recertification, to pass the admiralty and maritime examination given to new applicants.


This article was last updated on Monday, February 29, 2016.