Note from the Editor


Thomas H. Belknap Jr.

As another year comes to a close, it is a perfect opportunity to evaluate the challenges and opportunities that we faced—and hopefully, embraced and overcame—as well as the goals we will set for the year ahead. Whether in the personal or professional realm, in the maritime industry or beyond, a good team is always greater than the sum of its parts.

In this final Mainbrace edition for 2019, we take a look at progressive topics involving the ever-developing legal, regulatory, and financial landscape for autonomous vessels, as well as current developments regarding climate change and renewable energy in the maritime industry.

We also revisit key discussions involving insolvency-related judgments under chapter 15; exercising maritime liens against cargo and sub-freights; effectively utilizing personal jurisdiction matters; and the reach and limitations of U.S. forfeiture law. All of these timely articles remind us that the maritime industry continues to evolve, grow, and change—sometimes slower than we’d like, and other times at lightning speed—and we must therefore continue to work together to understand and safely adapt to important shipping developments as they occur.

We also highlight some of the recent accomplishments, recognitions, and newsworthy developments both within our Maritime group and our Firm as a whole. We are incredibly proud of our Blank Rome family of attorneys and professionals for working diligently every day to ensure that our clients, colleagues, and communities are valued and appreciated, and we are humbled and honored to receive recognition from our clients, peers, and the legal industry in doing so.

May the final weeks of 2019 bring peace and prosperity to you and yours during the holiday season and new year celebrations. We look forward to continuing our quarterly Mainbrace editions in the year ahead and working with you in 2020 and beyond.

EDITOR, Mainbrace

Blank Rome Named to Forbes List of America’s Top Trusted Corporate Law Firms

Blank Rome was named to Forbes’ inaugural America’s Top Trusted Corporate Law Firms list. In particular, Forbes recognized our Firm’s work in Banking & Financial Services as our “most recommended practice area.” Blank Rome is proud to join this select group of leading law firms ranked in this year’s list.

According to Forbes, the magazine partnered with Statista, a market research company, to create its first-ever list of 243 top U.S. corporate law firms, ranging from firms well known in the corporate and legal worlds to boutique firms that focus on very specific branches of the law.

For more information, please visit Blank Rome Named to Forbes List of America’s Top Trusted Corporate Law Firms.

Blank Rome Highly Ranked in U.S. News–Best Lawyers® 2020 “Best Law Firms”

Blank Rome’s Maritime practice was ranked in the top national and regional tiers for Admiralty & Maritime Law in the 2020 “Best Law Firms” survey by U.S. News & World Report–Best Lawyers.® Overall, the Firm was nationally ranked in 30 practice areas and regionally ranked in 82 practice areas.

Blank Rome’s highly ranked services and industries in this year’s survey include:



For more information, please visit Blank Rome Highly Ranked in U.S. News–Best Lawyers® 2020 “Best Law Firms.


Blank Rome Highly Ranked in The American Lawyer’s 2019 Midlevel Associates Survey and Summer Associates Survey


Blank Rome was notably ranked as one of the top five firms for midlevel associate satisfaction in The American Lawyer’s national 2019 Midlevel Associates Survey, and in the top 10 regionally for Los Angeles (#1), Philadelphia (#2), New York (#2), and Washington, D.C. (#8).

The annual survey asked third-, fourth-, and fifth-year associates to examine several aspects of job satisfaction, including compensation and benefits; training and guidance; relations with partners and other associates; interest in and satisfaction level with the work; the firm’s policy on billable hours; and management’s openness about firm strategies and partnership chances.

For more information, please visit Blank Rome Ranked Top 5 in The American Lawyer’s 2019 Midlevel Associates Survey.


Blank Rome was recognized as one of the top 10 law firms for summer associate satisfaction in The American Lawyer’s national 2019 Summer Associates Survey, and notably ranked regionally for Washington, D.C. (#1), Philadelphia (#4), and New York (#25).

The annual survey asked summer associates employed by the nation’s largest law firms to examine several aspects of job satisfaction, including quality of work, training and guidance, partner and associate interaction, and overall rating as a workplace.

For more information, please visit Blank Rome Highly Ranked in The American Lawyer’s 2019 Summer Associates Survey.

Blank Rome Wins Lloyd’s List 2019 Excellence in Maritime Law Award

Blank Rome was named the Excellence in Maritime Law award winner at the 2019 Lloyd’s List Americas Awards, held on September 25, 2019, in Houston, Texas. The coveted award recognizes “exemplary expertise and commitment to the shipping industry as well as innovation through which lawyers have played a crucial role in notable cases, restructuring, or dispute resolution.”

The Lloyd’s List Americas Awards, which this year was combined with a unique content forum focused on Future Fuels, are part of the global Excellence in Shipping Awards, the industry’s flagship awards program that recognizes and rewards excellence across all sectors of maritime.

Keith B. Letourneau and Jeanne M. Grasso, co-chair and vice-chair, respectively, of Blank Rome’s Maritime practice group, accepted the award together on behalf of Blank Rome Maritime.

Pictured left to right: Eli Ginsberg, (Lloyd’s List Intelligence), Jeanne Grasso, and Keith Letourneau.

For more information, please visit Blank Rome Wins Lloyd’s List 2019 Excellence in Maritime Law Award.

Blank Rome Maritime Attorneys Recognized by Who’s Who Legal 2019

Who’s Who Legal 2019 has recognized five Blank Rome Maritime attorneys as “Global Leaders” in Shipping. In addition, 13 of Blank Rome’s attorneys were recognized as “Thought Leaders” and/or “Global Leaders” in five practice areas across the Firm.


Per Who’s Who Legal, “nominees were selected based upon comprehensive, independent survey work with both general counsel and private practice lawyers worldwide. Only specialists who have met independent international research criteria are listed.”

For more information, please visit Blank Rome Attorneys Recognized by Who’s Who Legal 2019.

Blank Rome Moves Chicago Office to 444 West Lake

Blank Rome LLP is pleased to announce that on September 3, the Chicago office relocated to a new and permanent location at 444 West Lake Street. The Firm occupies 12,000 square feet of space on the 16th floor that can accommodate 30 or more attorneys and professional staff. Known as River Point, 444 West Lake is a 52-story, 1,050,000-square-foot, world-class office tower that just opened in 2017. It is conveniently located in Chicago’s West Loop on the corner of Lake and Canal Street and is steps away from the Chicago River, public transportation, and the highway.

To meet the current and future needs of clients who are based in or do business in Chicago, Blank Rome entered the market in June 2019 with the addition of Partners Kenneth J. Ottaviano, who also serves as Office Chair, Karin H. Berg, William J. Dorsey, and Paige Barr Tinkham.

“Our Chicago colleagues have been off to a great start,” said Grant S. Palmer, Blank Rome’s Managing Partner and CEO. “When considering locations for our Chicago office, we were committed to finding a location that was modern, efficient, and well equipped to help us best serve our clients. We are thrilled to call 444 West Lake our new Chicago home, and look forward to continued growth in such a vibrant and successful market.”

“We are excited to settle into our new space,” said Mr. Ottaviano. “Karin, Will, Paige, and I are confident that 444 West Lake will provide us with the perfect setting to grow and thrive. This location underscores Blank Rome’s commitment to Chicago as well as to our clients and the Firm’s ongoing national expansion efforts. We are eager to welcome our clients and colleagues from across the country to our new office and great city.”


Karin H. Berg
Partner, Finance
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William J. Dorsey
Partner, Business Litigation
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Kenneth J. Ottaviano
Chair, Chicago Office Partner, Finance
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Paige Barr Tinkham
Partner, Finance
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Blank Rome LLP Chicago
444 West Lake Street | Suite 1650 | Chicago, IL 60606 | 312.776.2600