Chambers USA 2016 Honors Blank Rome Maritime Attorneys and Practices

Mainbrace | June 2016 (No. 3)

Notable Practitioners for Shipping Litigation (New York)

Thomas H. Belknap, Jr. ranked as a band two attorney. Chambers USA states: “Thomas Belknap has experience working on insurance litigation and arbitration for a range of maritime clients. He also covers charter party disputes, salvage disputes, and cargo damage claims.”

John D. Kimball ranked as a band two attorney. Chambers USA states: “John Kimball focuses his practice on the representation of shipping clients in a wide range of contentious issues, including maritime casualties, charter party, and insurance coverage disputes. Interviewees describe Kimball as ‘extremely thorough and very experienced and knowledgeable.’”

Richard V. Singleton ranked as a band four attorney. Chambers USA states: “Richard Singleton has expertise in litigating maritime casualty cases, insurance matters and bankruptcies. One client reports: ‘It is his combination of being on top of the details and the law and also thinking strategically that keeps me going back.’”

Lauren B. Wilgus ranked as an associate to watch. Chambers USA states: “Lauren Wilgus works with domestic and international clients on maritime litigation and in alternative dispute resolution forums. Areas of experience include marine insurance matters and cargo damage claims.”

Chambers 2016: Blank Rome Maritime’s “esteemed” shipping litigation practice (New York) has “significant experience handling high- profile maritime litigation for national and international clients.” The practice is “highly regarded for crisis response and offering additional expertise in alternative dispute resolution.”

Client sources say: “They have the depth for anything you need, and a lot of backup if you need help. The service is always prompt and efficient.”

Notable Practitioners for Shipping Litigation (Outside New York)

Michael K. Bell ranked as a band three attorney. Chambers USA states: “Michael Bell is well known for his representation of large maritime clients on issues such as contract disputes, casualties and commercial litigation. He ‘has a great understanding of the industry itself and a strong command of maritime law,’ say sources.”

Keith B. Letourneau ranked as a band three attorney. Chambers USA states: “Keith Letourneau has expertise in vessel arrests, hazardous materials pollution and contract disputes involving shipyards and oil rigs. One client reports: ‘He is our first line of defense; he is knowledgeable and the particular knowledge he has is of the market and what is going on. That really helps us in negotiations.’”

Douglas J. Shoemaker ranked as a band three attorney. Chambers USA states: “Douglas Shoemaker is described as ‘pragmatic and a great communicator’ by a client. His practice covers areas such as navigational error, cargo damage defense and onboard investigations. He also has a strong arbitration practice.”

Jeremy A. Herschaft ranked as an up and coming attorney. Chambers USA states: “Jeremy Herschaft is a rising star of the maritime litigation space. He works with shipping and energy companies in a range of maritime issues. Areas of strength include charter party disputes, terminal-related matters and cargo claims.”

Chambers 2016: Blank Rome Maritime’s shipping litigation practice (outside New York) is a “strong practice recognized for an accomplished stable of attorneys with expertise across the full spectrum of maritime litigation matters.” The practice, with key offices in Houston, Texas, and Washington, D.C., “represents well-known clients including shipowners and operators, energy corporations and P&I clubs” and has an “accomplished Gulf Coast- based practice supported by the additional national strength of the wider firm.”

Client sources say: “It is my direct experience that the partners have great expertise in their respective areas. They have demonstrated strong professionalism.”

Notable Practitioners for Shipping Regulatory (Outside New York)

Jeanne M. Grasso ranked as a band two attorney. Chambers USA states: “Jeanne Grasso works with large corporations such as vessel owners, charterers, cargo owners and facilities. She has expertise in government enforcement actions, pollution incident response and regulatory compliance.”

Matthew J. Thomas ranked as a band three attorney. Chambers USA states: “Matthew Thomas is noted for his knowledge of international trade sanctions and related issues concerning maritime clients. He has experience working with shipowners, terminal operators and P&I clubs.”

Jonathan K. Waldron ranked as a band one attorney. Chambers USA states: “Jonathan Waldron has ‘extensive legal knowledge and a practical approach to everything—he is really knowledgeable about the industry, not just the law,’ reports one client. He is highly regarded for his work in areas such as maritime compliance, environmental regulation and response and vessel operations.”

Chambers USA 2016: Blank Rome Maritime’s “highly acclaimed” shipping regulatory practice is “well known for its representation of significant shipping clients in a range of regulatory matters.” The practice “has expertise in Jones Act compliance, environmental investigation defense of companies and individuals and government relations” and is “further noted for working with shipowners on related aspects of trade sanctions.”

Client sources say: Blank Rome’s shipping regulatory practice is “knowledgeable and professional.”

Blank Rome Wins Lloyd’s List 2016 Maritime Legal Services Award

Mainbrace | June 2016 (No. 3)

Blank Rome was recognized as the winner of the Lloyd’s List 2016 North American Maritime Award for Maritime Services – Legal” at the Lloyd’s List awards ceremony held on May 19, 2016, at Pier Sixty, in New York, NY. The maritime services award, as stated by Lloyd’s List, is awarded “for exceptional achievement or contribution to any service sector of the North American maritime industry by a company, individual or organisation.”

“We are very proud that for the second year, Lloyd’s List has honored us for the legal services we provide to our clients. In selecting Blank Rome for this highly prestigious award, Lloyd’s List’s panel of judges recognized that we offer a range and breadth of shipping knowledge to clients that is unmatched among U.S.-based law firms,” said John D.  Kimball, co-chair of the Firm’s maritime practice group.

 “We continue to be most grateful to Lloyd’s List for this recognition two-years in a row. We are delighted that our efforts to build and maintain a team-oriented national practice to handle all of the needs of our clients has been high- lighted again,” added maritime co-chair Jonathan K. Waldron.

This year’s annual awards event attracted more than 300 maritime industry representatives and celebrated the success of the North American maritime industry. For a full list of winners, please visit

Former U.S. Energy Secretary & DOE Chief of Staff Join Blank Rome Government Relations

Mainbrace | June 2016 (No. 3)

Blank Rome Government Relations LLC (“BRGR”) is pleased to announce that the Honorable Spencer Abraham, former U.S. Secretary of Energy and former U.S. Senator from Michigan, and Joseph P. McMonigle, former Vice-Chairman of the International Energy Agency and former Chief of Staff at the U.S. Department of Energy, have joined Blank Rome Government Relations as Principals in the Washington, D.C., office. Continue reading “Former U.S. Energy Secretary & DOE Chief of Staff Join Blank Rome Government Relations”

Meet Blank Rome’s Government Contracts Practice

Mainbrace | June 2016 (No. 3)

Government contracting can be a maze. We’ll be your guide.

David M. Nadler and Brian S. Gocial

Regular readers of Mainbrace know that Blank Rome LLP has the largest and most comprehensive maritime legal practice in the United States, providing unparalleled knowl- edge and counsel to our maritime industry clients. With the recent addition of more than 100 attorneys from Dickstein Shapiro LLP’s New York and Washington, D.C., offices, Blank Rome now offers our maritime clients a nationally recog- nized, full-service government contracts practice with a deep bench of dedicated professionals who can assist our maritime clients in navigating the increasingly competitive world of contracting with the U.S. government. From bid protests, claims, dispute resolution, and litigation, to cyber- security, government audits and investigations, False Claims Act cases, mandatory disclosure issues, and suspension and debarment, Blank Rome’s attorneys can assist our maritime industry clients with the complex regulatory matters facing government contractors today in all aspects of government contracts, from contract formation through close-out.

Our Team and Multidisciplinary Capabilities

Led by Practice Chair Dave Nadler, a former Navy lawyer, Blank Rome’s government contracts practice features more than 20 attorneys focused on government contracts law and litigation who regularly deal with the U.S. Navy’s Military Sealift Command, U.S. Army’s Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command, United States Coast Guard, Defense Logistics Agency Land and Maritime, United States Maritime Administration, Environmental Protection Agency, and other government agencies. Our government contracts team works closely with Blank Rome’s maritime and complementary national practices, including government relations, insurance coverage, labor and employment, white collar defense and investigations, and mergers and acquisitions, providing a broad base of knowledge and full range of experience to serve the maritime industry.

Our collective pool of talent encompasses a wide variety of backgrounds, including former U.S. Coast Guard and Navy officers, representatives and senior staff from  congressional committees, and high-level officials of the U.S. Maritime Administration, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Our government contracts attorneys understand the interplay between law and politics, and coordinate strategies with  Blank Rome Government Relations LLC to help clients anticipate and take advantage of the issues and opportunities that affect the maritime industry. Our team approach focuses on bringing the right resources and counsel to resolve our clients’ issues, whether it be advising on a new regulatory development or guiding a client through a bet- the-company government investigation.

Our Recent Noteworthy Representations

Most recently, our government contracts team represented a leading provider of ship repair and maintenance services on Guam, filing a bid protest at the Government Accountability Office after the U.S. Coast Guard awarded a multimillion dollar contract to a competitor for drydock repairs. As a result of our protest, the Coast Guard took corrective action, resulting in a contract award to our client.

Our government contracts attorneys also worked closely with our corporate lawyers to assist a leading middle-market private equity firm focused on the maritime sector in its acquisition of a leading provider of scaffolding systems and environmental containment solutions for the maintenance, repair, and overhaul of U.S. government vessels.

We also successfully resolved a False Claims Act case on behalf of the largest container shipping company in the world related to detention changes for cargo shipped to Iraq and Afghanistan. Currently, our government contracts team represents a shipowner in Federal District Court con- testing the default termination of a military charter.

Government Contracting Today

Government contracting in today’s marketplace presents both great opportunities and challenges. Government contractors face heightened risks presented by ever-changing regulations and aggressive enforcement. Blank Rome’s maritime and government contracts attorneys, combined with the Firm’s full-service commercial and corporate legal capabilities and significant litigation experience, allow us to offer our maritime clients a highly sophisticated set of legal solutions for maritime contractors both large and small, experienced government contractors, and those seeking to enter the government marketplace for the first time.

U.S. Export Controls Pose Risks for Offshore Energy Companies’ Return in Iran

Mainbrace | June 2016 (No. 3)

Matthew J. Thomas

In March, Blank Rome co-hosted a breakfast seminar in Dubai with Fichte & Co Legal Consultancy to discuss with local shipping and energy professionals the real risks and opportunities presented by the rollback of international sanctions on Iran. We were awed by the warm reception we received, the huge turnout (well over 250 clients and friends), and by the insightful questions and contributions of those who joined us. Continue reading “U.S. Export Controls Pose Risks for Offshore Energy Companies’ Return in Iran”

New China-Liberia Maritime Bilateral: Savings on Port Fees Just One Element of Broader Trade Cooperation

Mainbrace | June 2016 (No. 3)

Matthew J. Thomas

In a November 2015 state visit in Beijing, the leaders of the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of Liberia signed a historic bilateral maritime agreement offering significant benefits to Liberian ship- owners. Headlines on the bilateral highlighted the immediate economic impact of the agreement: a 28 percent discount on tonnage dues in Chinese ports, putting Liberian ships on parity with Chinese vessels, and potentially saving $75,000 to $150,000 in annual port costs for capesize, VLCC, and large container vessels. Less well-understood, however, are the reasons behind this new alliance, and where the relationship appears to be headed in the future. Continue reading “New China-Liberia Maritime Bilateral: Savings on Port Fees Just One Element of Broader Trade Cooperation”

DOJ Announces FCPA Pilot Program in an Effort to Incentivize Companies to Self-Report Misconduct

Mainbrace | June 2016 (No. 3)

Shawn M. Wright, Carlos F. Ortiz, Steven J. Roman, Ariel S. Glasner, and Mayling C. Blanco




On April 5, 2016, the chief of the Fraud Section for the U.S. Department of Justice’s (“DOJ”) Criminal Division issued a memorandum related to the DOJ’s prosecution of violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”). The memorandum highlighted the DOJ’s efforts to intensify its prosecution of FCPA violations by (1) increasing the Fraud Unit’s stable of prosecutors devoted to FCPA issues by 50 percent and creating teams of special FBI agents focused solely on FCPA matters, and (2) strengthening the DOJ’s collaboration with its foreign counterparts in order to combat bribery schemes worldwide. The memorandum also announced the start of a one-year pilot program designed to incentivize companies to voluntarily self-disclose FCPA-related misconduct. Continue reading “DOJ Announces FCPA Pilot Program in an Effort to Incentivize Companies to Self-Report Misconduct”