Note from the Editor

Thomas H. Belknap, Jr., Editor

COVID, COVID, COVID … Sometimes it feels like that is all anyone is talking about these days (especially now that the election is behind us). So, in this issue of Mainbrace, we (mostly) take a break from that topic and try to focus on some other things.

Use of new technology in the maritime industry is one subject that always interests us, and there is no shortage of pertinent topics in this space. In this issue, we present articles discussing the legal and practical issues relating to the use of facial recognition technology on cruise ships, developments in the use of blockchain in global logistics arrangements, and new regulatory developments relating to electronic recordkeeping onboard vessels.

Meanwhile, as the 116th Congress moves towards its close at the end of the year, we take a look at pending maritime-related legislation and make a few guesses as to what we might expect from the 117th Congress, which convenes in January 2021. Of particular interest to the budding offshore wind industry is a separate article looking at recent developments on proposed legislation to clarify the application of the Jones Act to offshore wind development. We also look at ongoing efforts to pass legislation to tackle the serious and expanding problem of plastics in the oceans, as well as provide an update on regulatory developments relating to the Vessel Incidental Discharge Act.

The year 2020 has become a punchline of sorts for all the things that can go wrong. There’s no question that it has been a year like no other in memory, and I am sure many of us are ready to turn a new leaf in 2021. With disruption comes opportunity, however, and it is not so difficult to envision the many ways that the hurdles of this year will jumpstart innovation and progress in the coming years. Indeed, it seems clear that we are already heading down this path. So, let this be our New Year’s wish to all our clients and friends: may you stay ahead of the curve and figure out how to turn problems into solutions. We look forward to being there to help you do just that in 2021 and beyond. Happy Holidays to all.

Blank Rome Highly Ranked in U.S. News – Best Lawyers® 2021 “Best Law Firms”

Blank Rome LLP is pleased to announce that our Firm was nationally ranked in 29 practice areas and regionally ranked in 79 practice areas in the 2021 “Best Law Firms” survey by U.S. News & World Report – Best Lawyers

Earlier this year, Blank Rome was also recognized in the 2021 Best Lawyers in America survey, which ranked 114 of our attorneys in the annual categories of “Lawyers of the Year” and “Best Lawyers,” as well as the inaugural “Ones to Watch” category, in 49 practice areas across 10 regions.


Tier 1

  • Admiralty & Maritime Law
  • Banking and Finance Law
  • Bankruptcy and Creditor Debtor Rights / Insolvency and Reorganization Law
  • Commercial Litigation
  • Corporate Law
  • Criminal Defense: White-Collar
  • Employee Benefits (ERISA) Law
  • Insurance Law
  • Litigation – Bankruptcy
  • Mergers & Acquisitions Law
  • Real Estate Law
  • Tax Law
  • Trusts & Estates Law

Continue reading “Blank Rome Highly Ranked in U.S. News – Best Lawyers® 2021 “Best Law Firms””

Blank Rome Pro Bono Report (2019‒2020)

Pro Bono Report (2019-2020) cover image

Welcome to Blank Rome’s Pro Bono Report (2019‒2020), which highlights various pro bono cases, clinics, and projects that our attorneys worked on last year and in recent months to provide equal access to justice in our communities.

In particular, we discuss our significant work on behalf of immigrantsLGBTQ+ individualspersons facing homelessnessveteranssenior citizens, and small business owners and nonprofits.

Also featured in this report:

      • Blank Rome’s 2019 Pro Bono Year in Review
      • Summary of pro bono awards presented to our Firm and attorneys
      • Blank Rome’s pro bono corporate and community partners
      • Overview of pro bono initiatives and priorities for 2020 and beyond

To download Blank Rome’s Pro Bono Report, please click here.

Blank Rome Launches Biometric Privacy Team

Blank Rome LLP is pleased to announce the formal launch of our Biometric Privacy Team. Composed of multidisciplinary attorneys from across our Firm’s offices, this dedicated team draws talent from our Cybersecurity & Data PrivacyPrivacy Class Action DefenseArtificial Intelligence Technology, and Labor & Employment groups to help clients address and minimize the risks associated with biometric privacy regulatory compliance, enforcement, and litigation.

“We are thrilled to launch this important and timely initiative,” said Jeffrey N. Rosenthal, who leads the Firm’s Biometric Privacy Team. “Our team includes both highly experienced compliance counsel and seasoned privacy class action defense litigators. Collectively, we are well positioned to help clients navigate today’s myriad biometric privacy laws. Whether proactively developing comprehensive compliance/risk management programs or aggressively defending clients in state and federal courts across the country, our Biometric Privacy Team possesses the technological savvy, industry knowledge, and battle-forged litigation skills needed to counsel and defend our clients as consumer privacy laws continue to expand and evolve.”

Recent advancements in technology and artificial intelligence have led companies to utilize biometric data—such as fingerprint scans, facial recognition, voice prints, and DNA scans—in an ever-increasingly broad number of ways to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their operations. This, in turn, has brought about significant legal risk as legislatures across the country implement laws to tightly regulate the use of this technology, such as the now well-known Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act and California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018. The commercial use of biometric data has also led to a wave of bet-the-company class action litigation for alleged technical statutory violations, often involving hundreds of millions of dollars in potential exposure.

“Our biometric privacy trial attorneys are frequently retained to litigate high-exposure, high-profile disputes. Due to this demand, we have developed reputations for achieving superior results against challenging odds using novel and creative strategies,” stated Ana Tagvoryan, Vice Chair of the Firm’s Corporate Litigation group and Co-Chair of Blank Rome’s Class Action Defense Team. “Our multidisciplinary team develops winning litigation strategies and formidable defenses against all manner of claims involving allegedly improper biometric data practices.”

Blank Rome’s biometric privacy attorneys are also thought leaders in this space, having extensively published and presented on compliance best practices, emerging legal trends involving biometric laws and technology around the country and the world, risk mitigation, and litigation strategy.

Coronavirus (“COVID-19”) Task Force

The outbreak of the novel coronavirus (“COVID-19”) is impacting businesses and public life around the world. From supply chain disruption, government-ordered closures, and event cancellations to employee safety concerns and social distancing recommendations, every company is facing its own unique challenges in the face of the uncertainties surrounding this global pandemic.

Blank Rome’s Coronavirus (“COVID-19”) Task Force (“Task Force”) is monitoring this ever-changing situation and is here to help. The Task Force is an interdisciplinary group of the Firm’s attorneys with decades of experience helping companies and individuals respond to the legal fallout from disruptive crises and disasters. Our multifaceted team includes insurance recovery, labor & employment, maritime, litigation, corporate, real estate, and cybersecurity & data privacy attorneys prepared to analyze your issues from every conceivable angle to ensure a holistic, complete, and comprehensive approach to your specific needs and issues. With offices across the United States and in China, we are ready to assist businesses that must respond and prepare for an evolving public health emergency.

To access all of our Coronavirus (“COVID-19”) Task Force resources, please visit our website.

Firm News and Announcements

Chambers USA 2020 Recognizes Blank Rome Attorneys and Practices

Blank Rome’s Maritime practice and attorneys have again been highly ranked by Chambers USA, notably receiving national #1 rankings in the areas of Shipping – Litigation and Shipping – Regulatory. The 2020 edition of Chambers USA recognized Blank Rome in a number of categories across a wide range of practices, and also ranked 69 Blank Rome attorneys as “leaders in their fields.” Read More »

Blank Rome Attorneys and Practices Highly Ranked in The Legal 500 United States 2020

Blank Rome’s Maritime practice and attorneys were again highly ranked and recommended in The Legal 500 United States 2020, notably recognizing Blank Rome as a “Top-Tier Firm” for Shipping – Finance, and Shipping – Litigation and Regulation. Read More »

Blank Rome’s Maritime Industry Team

Our maritime industry team is composed of practice-focused subcommittees from across many of our Firm’s offices, with attorneys who have extensive capabilities and experience in the maritime industry and beyond, effectively complementing Blank Rome Maritime’s client cases and transactions. Read More »

Coronavirus (“COVID-19”) Task Force

The outbreak of the novel coronavirus is impacting businesses and public life around the world. From supply chain disruption, government-ordered closures, and event cancellations to employee safety concerns and social distancing recommendations, every company is facing its own unique challenges in the face of the uncertainties surrounding this global pandemic. Blank Rome’s Coronavirus (“COVID-19”) Task Force is monitoring this ever-changing situation and is here to help. Read More »

A Message from Blank Rome’s Leadership

We hope it never becomes normal to share a message denouncing acts of discrimination, harassment, or violence against our communities of color. During these upsetting and anguished times, we reaffirm Blank Rome’s dedication to our core value and founding principle—an unwavering commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Read More »

Note from the Editor

Thomas H. Belknap Jr.

It is a safe bet that few people reading this note have been entirely unimpacted by the coronavirus pandemic. It is truly an event of worldwide scale that has, virtually overnight, fundamentally changed the way we work and live. The virus’ global effects will be felt long after a vaccine or cure is found, and in ways we can hardly imagine. One interesting anecdote has to do with energy consumption. As the United States rapidly shut down its economy in April to try to stem the spread of the virus, our national energy consumption dropped dramatically. Because of its relative cost, coal power plants were the first to be idled, with the result that by mid-May, America’s renewable energy sources—primarily wind, solar, and hydroelectric—had produced more electricity than by coal on 90 separate days in 2020. By comparison, in 2019, that occurred on only 38 days over the entire year. This trend will only continue as the incremental cost of solar and wind generation drops further in the coming years.

Meanwhile, the United States is on the cusp of an explosion of offshore wind projects that have been more than a decade in the making—particularly on the east coast, where the first offshore wind farm began operation in 2016 and many more are in various advanced stages of development. Blank Rome has been busy for several years now in advising clients—both domestic and international—on all aspects of these developing projects, from regulatory issues such as Jones Act and work-visa requirements, to environmental and permitting issues, chartering, contracting, corporate assistance, and beyond.

With all of this in mind, we decided to focus this special issue of Mainbrace primarily on the emerging U.S. offshore wind industry, providing critical analysis into U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Jones Act developments; a detailed overview of state and federal legislation and project development updates; comparative analysis of SUPPLYTIME and WINDTIME charterparty contracts; and insights into the potential post-COVID-19 implications on the offshore wind market. And while not offshore wind-related, we also provide a discussion on the dramatic Hanjin bankruptcy and the role to be played by the Federal Maritime Commission and Department of Commerce in case of future such bankruptcies.

We hope that you enjoy this Special Offshore Wind edition of Mainbrace and that you stay safe and healthy.

EDITOR, Mainbrace

Note from the Editor

Thomas H. Belknap Jr.

Happy (almost) spring! Every year seems to be a new adventure and a new challenge, and this year, on top of the dramatic new International Maritime Organization 2020 bunker regulations that have now come into force after much trepidation, we find ourselves watching as the shipping world (and everyone else) wrestles with the many market disruptions that have resulted from the global spread of COVID‒19, otherwise known as coronavirus. Throw in a presidential election in November, and there’s plenty of uncertainty to keep everyone guessing this year.

It’s not all bad news, however. Uncertainty brings risk, but it also generates opportunity, and the shipping world has always depended on its creativity and ingenuity to survive and thrive. We have every confidence that it will continue to do so in the future.

As always, we aim with this issue of Mainbrace to offer a diverse look at different aspects of the shipping industry: Jeanne M. Grasso and Kierstan L. Carlson take a look at the growing enforcement in the United States in respect of MARPOL Annex VI emissions violations; Jeremy A. Herschaft and Matthew J. Thomas bring us up to speed on recent developments in the emerging maritime blockchain platform, TradeLens; William R. Bennett, III, Charles S. Marion, and Anthony Yanez help us consider when a contract may or may not be a “maritime” one—and why it matters; Frederick M. Lowther imagines the future of carbon-free vessels; Joan M. Bondareff and Stefanos L. Roulakis give us an update on maritime-related developments in Congress; and William R. Bennett, III, and Lauren B. Wilgus take us through the complicated ins and outs of a maritime casualty investigation in the United States.

Added to the mix of current maritime news and trends, we also include some timely Firm announcements regarding new partners and teams who have joined us since January 1 as well as highlight the elevation of Lauren B. Wilgus to Maritime partner and our Chambers Global 2020 rankings. Additionally, we provide some important Blank Rome diversity and inclusion updates, including the sad news of the loss of our beloved colleague and friend Judge Nathaniel R. Jones, our Firm’s first Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer.

We hope you enjoy this issue. As always, we welcome your comments and suggestions for articles in future issues of Mainbrace.

EDITOR, Mainbrace

Firm News & Announcements

Lauren B. Wilgus Elevated to Maritime Partner

Blank Rome is pleased to announce that Lauren B. Wilgus was elevated from of counsel to partner, effective January 1, 2020. In addition to Lauren, the Firm elevated 10 associates and one additional of counsel to partner, and five associates to of counsel. 

Lauren B. Wilgus – Maritime and International Trade • New York

Lauren focuses her practice on international and maritime litigation, alternative dispute resolution, and business matters, notably involving domestic and foreign corporate interests as well as disputes concerning international and domestic commercial contracts, marine insurance coverage, and charterparties. She counsels on claims involving the Carriage of Goods by Sea Act, maritime attachment and vessel arrest actions, marine casualty investigations, recognition and enforcement of foreign arbitration awards and judgments, and commercial negotiations and dispute resolutions. Lauren is an active member of Blank Rome’s Maritime Emergency Response Team and leading maritime organizations and associations.

To view all of the Firm’s 2020 promotions, please visit Blank Rome Announces 2020 Promotions: 12 Partners, 5 Of Counsel.

Blank Rome Continues Expansion in 2020 with New Lateral Partners

Since January 1, Blank Rome has welcomed a number of lateral partners across its U.S. offices, enhancing the Firm’s services and capabilities throughout its various practices.

CRAIG R. CULBERTSON, Corporate, M&A, and Securities, CHICAGO – Press Release

JODI L. LASHIN, Corporate, M&A, and Securities, NEW YORK – Press Release

WILLIAM E. LAWLER, III, White Collar Defense & Investigations, WASHINGTON, D.C. – Press Release

STACY H. LOUIZOS, Corporate, M&A, and Securities, NEW YORK – Press Release

DEAN S. NORDLINGER, Corporate, M&A, and Securities, WASHINGTON, D.C. – Press Release

VANESSA G. TANAKA, Finance, Restructuring, and Bankruptcy, CHICAGO – Press Release

MASHA TRAINOR, Corporate, M&A, and Securities, PITTSBURGH – Press Release

PAUL H. TZUR, White Collar Defense & Investigations, CHICAGO – Press Release

LATERAL PARTNER TEAM: Tax, Benefits, and Private Client, NEW YORK – Press Release

      • HOLLY L. HYANS

Chambers Global 2020 Ranks Blank Rome Attorneys and Shipping Litigation Practice

Mainbrace | March 2018 (No.1)

Chambers Global 2020 recognized Blank Rome as a global leader in Shipping: Litigation–Global-wide, as well as Partner John D. Kimball as a leading shipping litigation attorney. Continue readingChambers Global 2020 Ranks Blank Rome Attorneys and Shipping Litigation Practice”