A shipping or maritime lawyer can mean any one of many things.
Dry shipping lawyers deal with contractual and commercial matters, whilst wet shipping lawyers handle matters relating to collisions, sinkings, groundings, salvage and pollution.
Dry shipping lawyers are either contentious (litigators) or non-contentious. Dry shipping litigators deal with contract disputes such as charter parties, bills of lading, cargo claims, ship arrests and construction disputes. Non-contentious lawyers focus on the drafting and wording of various documents or policies, as well as transactions (Sale & Purchase for example).
Wet shipping lawyers, also known as admiralty lawyers, deal with collisions, sinkings, groundings, salvage, and pollution and tend to have seafaring backgrounds.
There are also ship finance lawyers who represent banking and shipping clients in relation to traditional ship finance transactions and more complicated leasing and taxation structures.
Example job titles
Associate, Assistant Solicitor, Attorney, Barrister, Claims Handler, FD&D Lawyer, General Counsel, In-house Counsel, In-house Lawyer, Lawyer, Senior Associate, Solicitor.
Example job descriptions
In England at least, the umbrella term is ‘lawyer’. Within that we have Solicitors and Barristers. In the most simple of terms Solicitors deal with, and represent the clients. Barristers are appointed via a solicitor to represent those clients in court. Solicitors (and in the US, ‘Attorneys’) work in law firms, which are partnerships as opposed to limited companies. They are said to be in private practice. Barristers work in chambers, and they are self-employed.
In-House Maritime Lawyer
An in-house lawyer is a lawyer working directly from a business or organisation, as opposed to for a law firm. Apart from very large organisations like oil companies, most in-house legal departments are small often comprising only one lawyer and usually no more than 2 or 3.
P&I Claims Handler
P&I Clubs employ larger numbers of qualified solicitors to work as claims handlers
Where can I work in a Legal role?
Law firms, P&I clubs, shipowners, chartering/trading groups, oil companies, banks, insurance companies, claims consultancies, recovery agents.
Globally but major locations include Athens (Greece), Hong Kong, London (UK), New York (USA), Singapore, and UAE
Key skills and experience
- The traditional route to qualifying as a lawyer is a law degree (LLB) followed by the one-year Legal Practice Course (LPC) leading to a 2-year training contract, after which you become qualified as a solicitor in England & Wales. If you don’t have a law degree, you can do a one-year conversion course called GDL (Graduate Diploma in Law), followed then by the LPC and training contract.
- A new route to qualification has been introduced recently. Upon completion of a degree (in any subject) you must pass both stages of the SQE assessment and have 2 years’ full time (or equivalent) qualifying work experience.
- Barristers, instead of doing the LPC, take the Bar Vocational Course (BVC), commonly known as the Bar Finals. This is a one-year course and is followed by two six-month ‘pupillages’.
- Seagoing experience is not necessary although some master mariners work as ‘marine’ or ‘admiralty managers’ in law firms, where they practice wet shipping law. Many of them have no legal qualifications at all and although they are not lawyers as such, they do a full legal job, learning on the job as they go. Ironically, because of their seafaring experience, they often get involved in many of the big-news marine casualties.
Get in touch
To find out more about these roles please get in touch with the team.
Tom Brooks, Senior Recruitment Consultant
Hayley Menere, Senior Recruitment Consultant
Jay Farr, Recruitment Resourcer