Early on a June morning in 1974, I arrived at my summer clerkship with a Savannah law firm, having just completed my first year of law school. I was assigned to the partner in the firm who was in charge of the maritime department. He had an assignment for me. I was to draft a memorandum on wrongful arrest. “Wrongful arrest of what,” I inquired. I had no idea at the time that ships could be arrested. I worked diligently for almost two days on the project, produced a legal memorandum three-quarters of a page long, and got the answer wrong. It was an inauspicious beginning to my forty year career as a maritime lawyer. But it was also my first exposure to a practice I came to enjoy immensely.
Practicing maritime law in one of the “outports” afforded me the opportunity to handle a wide variety of cases and to work with people from all over the world. Over the years, I prosecuted and defended ship arrests and Rule B attachments, cargo cases, personal injury claims, (Jones Act, longshore and passenger) pollution claims, allisions and collisions, maritime contract disputes, maritime lien issues, salvage claims and even a treasure salvage case or two. My clients ranged from shipowners and charterers to cargo interests, dredgers, towers, marine insurers, stevedores, terminal operators, steamship agents, logistic companies and marine contractors, variously headquartered all over the world.
During a Tulane seminar in 1990, my interest was piqued by a long discussion I had at dinner with a colleague about his decision to leave his law firm to commence a full-time mediation practice. I had never been through mediation and knew very little about it, but a couple of years later, I decided I wanted to become certified as a mediator. My initial classroom training was in Dallas, with follow up observations of three mediations in Houston. In the first 15 minutes of my first observation of an actual mediation, I was hooked. Although my mediation practice started slowly, mostly involving fender bender’s and slip and falls in big-box stores, as mediation caught on across the country, I was able to branch out into more complex and interesting cases. And finally, over the last decade or so, I have been able to combine my passion for mediation with my interest and expertise in maritime law. My maritime mediations have taken me all over the eastern half of the United States, from Maine to Miami and San Juan, from Mobile to Houston and St. Louis.
For many years, I have looked forward to having my own practice where I could concentrate solely on mediation and arbitration, but it was not practical in a smaller city until now. It is with great anticipation and excitement that I commence this phase of what has been a rewarding career, and offer my services exclusively as a mediator, arbitrator, and consultant in the important field of dispute resolution.