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.

Climate Change and Renewable Energy in the Maritime Industry

Frederick M. Lowther

There are few industries—indeed, few activities of any kind—that are not impacted by the increasingly intense debate on climate change. Whether by force of law or by voluntary action, all major sectors of the world economy must adapt to changing perceptions of how to reduce adverse impacts to our climate. The maritime industry is no exception. As the industry transitions to cleaner fossil fuels for vessel propulsion, there remains the question as to how the industry can best move toward greater use of emission-free renewable energy.

Dating Back

The maritime connection to renewable energy dates back thousands of years, with the transition from oars to sails likely occurring more than 5,000 years ago. Indeed, wind propulsion of large vessels was the norm until the mid-1700s, when the evolution of the steam engine resulted in the gradual transition to motive power. While commercial vessel propulsion will never revert to wind, the use of renewable energy sources in other (shore-based) aspects of the industry is clearly possible. Any shore-based activity that uses electric power has the ability to source that power—directly, indirectly, or “virtually” —from renewable energy generation. Continue reading “Climate Change and Renewable Energy in the Maritime Industry”

The Broad Reach and Limitations of U.S. Forfeiture Law

Matthew J. Thomas, Jed M. Silversmith, and Dana S. Merkel

In August of this year, the world watched closely to learn what would become of the Grace 1 and the more than two million barrels of Iranian crude oil that she carried. The tanker was boarded in the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar by the British Royal Navy on July 4 as it passed through Gibraltar’s territorial waters. It was detained on suspicion that it was delivering Iranian oil to Syria in violation of European Union sanctions.

Gibraltar released the Grace 1 on August 15, in spite of a request by the United States to seize the vessel. Gibraltar’s chief minister stated that Iran had provided assurance that the vessel would not deliver the oil to Syria when released, and there were no longer grounds for detention. Although Gibraltar denied the United States’ request, the U.S. government filed a civil forfeiture complaint (the “Complaint”) in a U.S. federal court seeking authority to seize the ship, the oil, and funds held in a U.S. bank account belonging to Paradise Global, an alleged front company used to help launder funds to assist the operation.

According to the Complaint, the Grace 1 was managed by a company registered in Singapore, which was part of a network of companies operating throughout the world. These companies allegedly purchased insurance in the United States on behalf of the Grace 1, which, because it was to help an Iranian business interest, violated the U.S. sanctions regime. The Complaint also explained how these non-U.S. companies transferred funds in dollar-denominated transactions to other non-U.S. companies. These international transfers violated the U.S. sanctions regime because, by simply engaging in dollar-denominated transactions to support trade with Iran, U.S. law was violated.

The Unites States’ attempt to seize the Grace 1 echoes the U.S. seizure of the North Korean bulk carrier Wise Honest. The Wise Honest had been detained in April 2018 by Indonesia for multiple violations of international law and sanctions. Similar to the Grace 1, a civil forfeiture complaint outlined transactions in U.S. dollars in support of the Wise Honest, which was used to deliver North Korean coal and bring equipment into North Korea. Indonesia turned the vessel over to the United States and it was eventually listed for sale by the U.S. Marshal Service. Continue reading “The Broad Reach and Limitations of U.S. Forfeiture Law”

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

Introducing Seriously Driven

Candid conversations, unfiltered insights, and a dose of hard-earned wisdom from influential women, committed to helping other women succeed and lead.

Have you ever met a fabulous, accomplished woman and wondered how she got to where she is today? Not only that, but where is she going from here and who is she taking with her? In Seriously Driven, host Marilyn Chinitz, a partner in the Matrimonial & Family Law practice at Blank Rome LLP, talks to successful women about their careers, roadblocks they’ve overcome, what or who they credit for their achievements, the other influential women in their lives, what it takes and means to become a leader, and how they mentor future leaders.

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 TEASER EPISODE: Introducing Seriously Driven

In this teaser episode, host Marilyn Chinitz talks about how she has thrived both professionally and personally and how her podcast guests have, too. Here you can listen to a preview of episodes 1 and 2, which feature Wendy Federman, the Tony-award winning Broadway producer, and Dr. Erika Schwartz, a pioneer in the field of health and wellness and author of the book Dont Let Your Doctor Kill You: How to Beat Physician Arrogance, Corporate Greed and a Broken System.

For more information, please visit Seriously Driven Podcast: Introducing Seriously Driven.

Utilizing the Changing Landscape of Personal Jurisdiction

David J. Oberly

For years, the scope of personal jurisdiction over corporate defendants has expanded significantly through the reliance on tenuous corporate contacts or business conducted by a defendant in a particular forum. Recently, however, that all changed when the United States Supreme Court issued its decisions in Daimler AG v. Bauman, 564 U.S. 915 (2014), BNSF Railway Co. v. Tyrrell, 137 S.Ct. 1549 (2017), and Bristol-Myers Squibb v. Superior Court of California, 137 S.Ct. 1773 (2017), which significantly strengthened the requirements for exercising personal jurisdiction over corporate defendants. Combined, these three decisions are critical for corporate entities that find themselves embroiled in maritime litigation, as these cases have significantly limited where plaintiffs can bring claims and, in turn, have substantially curtailed the practice of litigation tourism and forum shopping as a result of the limitations that have been placed on a forum state’s exercise of personal jurisdiction.

The Big Three: Daimler, Tyrrell, and Bristol-Myers Squibb

There are two types of personal jurisdiction. The first, known as specific jurisdiction, encompasses cases in which the suit arises out of or relates to the defendant’s contacts with the forum. For specific jurisdiction to exist, a plaintiff’s action must arise out of a defendant’s forum-related activities. The second, general jurisdiction, is exercisable when a foreign corporation’s “continuous corporate operations within a state [are] so substantial and of such a nature as to justify suit against it on causes of action arising from dealings entirely distinct from those activities.”

For years, courts and litigants have operated under the general rule that a court may exercise personal jurisdiction over a corporate defendant in any state where the company maintains “continuous and systematic” business contacts. As a result, businesses have been long subjected to being sued in any state across the country, regardless of strength of the business’s connection to the forum. The expansive scope of personal jurisdiction resulted in significant, egregious litigation tourism and forum shopping by plaintiffs’ attorneys in maritime actions, as plaintiffs took advantage of the significant leeway they had in filing large numbers of lawsuits in a select few extremely plaintiff-friendly courts, many of which are commonly known as some of the worst “judicial hellholes” for litigating these types of complex lawsuits. Continue reading “Utilizing the Changing Landscape of Personal Jurisdiction”

Perspectives: Celebrating Diversity and Inclusion in Practice

Welcome to the October 2019 edition of Perspectives, Blank Rome’s diversity and inclusion newsletter that keeps you informed on our latest diversity and inclusion news and provides insight on current diversity and inclusion issues in the legal industry and beyond.

Featured in this edition:

  • Insightful conversation with Human Rights Campaign President and former Blank Rome Attorney Alphonso David
  • Update on Mansfield Rule 2.0 and Mansfield Rule 3.0 participation
  • Inside look at Blank Rome’s inaugural series of Women’s Forum Bootcamps
  • Celebratory highlights from Heritage History Months
  • Initiatives aimed at advancing women in law and promoting LGBTQ+ equality
  • Overview of recent diversity and inclusion headlines, accolades, and events

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To learn more about Blank Rome’s diversity and inclusion initiatives, please visit