Note from the Chair

William R. Bennett III

The central theme of Dan Brown’s best-selling book Origin involves answering the long-debated questions on evolution: Where do we come from? Who are we? And, where are we going? When you think about it, those three simple questions, when answered by any individual, group, or organization, will, in all likelihood, include an assessment of their own evolution. Blank Rome Maritime’s evolution, in and of itself, is quite extraordinary.

Where did we come from? On January 1, 2003, the firm Dyer Ellis & Joseph, P.C. joined Blank Rome, bringing with them a group of talented attorneys that focused on maritime regulatory, environmental, and transactional matters, formally launching Blank Rome Maritime. Three years later, on October 1, 2006, the firm Healy & Baillie, LLP joined Blank Rome, bringing with them a group of attorneys who had a broad array of dispute resolution skills focused on international shipping disputes and transactional matters. Then, on August 1, 2013, the firm Bell, Ryniker & Letourneau, P.C. joined Blank Rome, expanding Blank Rome Maritime’s geographic footprint by adding shipping lawyers in Houston, Texas. In the intervening years since 2003, Blank Rome Maritime has added many talented partners and associates, expanding each office and broadening the scope of matters we presently handle today.

Who are we? With nearly 40 shipping lawyers in New York, Washington, D.C., Houston, and Philadelphia, Blank Rome Maritime has the largest and most comprehensive maritime practice in the United States. Our maritime attorneys include former ship’s officers, U.S. Coast Guard and Navy officers, representatives and senior staff from congressional committees, P&I Club claim executives, and high-level officials of government agencies, including the Department of Justice, Maritime Administration, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. We handle a broad array of issues for our clients operating in the maritime and international trade sector, and routinely represent our clients both in court and in arbitration, as well as before numerous governmental regularity bodies. And, Blank Rome Maritime is nationally recognized and ranked in leading surveys and publications, including The Legal 500 United States and Chambers USA (see here and here for our recently announced 2019 rankings), to name a couple.

Where are we going? Blank Rome Maritime will continue to evolve to meet the ongoing needs of our clients, and has a bright future ahead with our younger colleagues collaborating with our seasoned attorneys on enhancing our maritime services and capabilities.

With this overview of Blank Rome Maritime’s evolution, we hope you enjoy our summer edition of Mainbrace and the timely topics discussed, ranging from current congressional updates to discussions on evolving maritime policies, laws, and trends, and we welcome your feedback, as always.

EDITOR, Mainbrace

Blank Rome Maritime Highly Ranked in The Legal 500 United States 2019

Blank Rome’s maritime practice and attorneys were highly ranked and recommended in The Legal 500 United States 2019, receiving the following rankings:

Top-Tier Firm

Transport: Shipping – Finance
Transport: Shipping – Litigation
Transport: Shipping – Regulation

Leading Lawyers

Brett M. Esber (Transport: Shipping – Finance)
Jeanne M. Grasso (Transport: Shipping – Regulation)
John D. Kimball (Transport: Shipping – Litigation)
Anthony Salgado (Transport: Shipping – Finance)
Jonathan K. Waldron (Transport: Shipping – Regulation)

Next Generation Lawyers

Jeremy A. Herschaft (Transport: Shipping – Litigation)

Rising Stars

Lauren B. Wilgus (Transport: Shipping – Litigation)

Recommended Lawyers

TRANSPORT: SHIPPING – FINANCE: Brett M. EsberR. Anthony Salgado

TRANSPORT: SHIPPING – LITIGATION: Thomas M. Belknap, Jr.Michael K. BellWilliam R. BennettJeremy A. HerschaftJay T. HuffmanJohn D. KimballKeith B. LetourneauJeffrey S. MollerDouglas J. ShoemakerRichard V. SingletonLauren B. Wilgus

TRANSPORT: SHIPPING – REGULATORY: Kate B. BelmontJeanne M. GrassoGregory F. LinsinMatthew J. ThomasJonathan K. Waldron

Blank Rome also received high rankings and recommendations for our Energy Regulation: Oil and Gas, Government Contracts, Insurance: Advice to Policyholders, and M&A/Corporate and Commercial – M&A: Middle-Market (sub-$500M) practices, as well as for attorneys in those practices.

To view Blank Rome’s full Legal 500 rankings, please click here.

For more information on The Legal 500 United States 2019, please visit

Blank Rome Expands to Chicago with Addition of Four-Partner Group

June 11, 2019 – Blank Rome LLP is pleased to announce that the Firm is expanding its national platform to Chicago, with the addition of a four-partner group. The Firm expects the new office will launch this week, upon the completion of certain regulatory requirements.

The Chicago office will be led by Kenneth J. Ottaviano. Prior to joining Blank Rome, Ken served as a partner in the insolvency and restructuring group at Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP where he recently served on Katten’s Board of Directors. Also joining from Katten in Chicago are Karin H. Berg, William J. Dorsey, and Paige Barr Tinkham. Ken, Karin, and Paige join as partners in the Firm’s Finance, Restructuring, and Bankruptcy group. Will joins as a partner in Blank Rome’s Corporate Litigation group. They will also be members of the Financial Services Industry group, which has welcomed eight attorneys to date in 2019 and has more than 100 attorneys throughout the United States. Collectively, the group’s experience spans the financial services sector with Ken, Karin, and Paige focusing their practices on financing, insolvency, and restructuring transactions, and Will focusing his practice on commercial finance litigation, real estate disputes, and contested merger and acquisition transactions.

“Ken, Karin, Will, and Paige are outstanding people and we are thrilled to have them join us as the founding partners of our new Chicago office,” said Grant S. Palmer, Blank Rome’s Managing Partner and CEO. “They are the epitome of Blank Rome lawyers—premier practitioners in their fields who work collaboratively in teams with a singular focus on clients’ needs. Providing truly exceptional client service is our top priority, and we are committed to expanding our depth, breadth, and capabilities across offices to continue to serve our clients at the highest levels.” Continue reading “Blank Rome Expands to Chicago with Addition of Four-Partner Group”

Chambers USA 2019 Honors Blank Rome Maritime Attorneys and Practices

Band One | Shipping Litigation (New York) — Nationwide

What the team is known for: “Esteemed practice with significant experience handling high-profile maritime litigation for national and international clients, including P&I Clubs, shipping companies and owners. Highly regarded for crisis response and offering additional expertise in alternative dispute resolution. Maintains an excellent reputation for advising maritime industry entities in federal investigations arising from intentional misconduct allegations and casualty events, as well as in a host of cybersecurity issues. Recently active on a range of fuel contamination, cargo loss, salvage and collision cases.”

Strengths: “Clients value the firm’s ‘amazing array of subject matter experts across multiple disciplines and jurisdictions’ and its ‘assembling of the appropriate team to serve specific needs.’ Sources are impressed by the firm’s ‘very experienced and excellent team.’”

Notable Practitioners for Shipping Litigation (New York) – Nationwide Continue readingChambers USA 2019 Honors Blank Rome Maritime Attorneys and Practices”

2018 Pro Bono Report

Welcome to Blank Rome’s 2018 Pro Bono Report, which highlights various pro bono cases, clinics, and projects that our attorneys worked on throughout the year to provide equal access to justice in our communities.

In particular, we discuss our significant work on behalf of veterans, immigrants, LGBTQ+ individuals, the homeless, senior citizens, and small business owners.

Also featured in this report:

  • Blank Rome’s 2018 Pro Bono Year in Review
  • Tribute to Mat Rotenberg, a pro bono champion for local nonprofits
  • Summary of pro bono awards presented to our Firm and attorneys
  • Blank Rome’s Community Partners and 2018 Pro Bono Honor Roll

To learn more about Blank Rome’s pro bono initiatives, please visit

Download Blank Rome’s 2018 Pro Bono Report here.


Severe Weather Emergency Recovery Team

Blank Rome’s Severe Weather Emergency Recovery Team (“SWERT”) helps those impacted by natural disasters like Hurricanes Florence, Harvey, Irma, and Maria, and by wildfires and mudslides in California and Colorado. We are an interdisciplinary group with decades of experience helping companies and individuals recover from severe weather events. Our team includes insurance recovery, labor and employment, government contracts, environmental, and energy attorneys, as well as government relations professionals with extensive experience in disaster recovery.

Learn more:

Risk Management Tools for Maritime Companies


Blank Rome Maritime has developed a flexible, fixed-fee Compliance Audit Program to help maritime companies mitigate the escalating risks in the maritime regulatory environment. The program provides concrete, practical guidance tailored to your operations to strengthen your regulatory compliance systems and minimize the risk of your company becoming an enforcement statistic. To learn how the Compliance Audit Program can help your company, please visit


Blank Rome provides a comprehensive solution for protecting your company’s property and reputation from the unprecedented cybersecurity challenges present in today’s global digital economy. Our multidisciplinary team of leading cybersecurity and data privacy professionals advises clients on the potential consequences of cybersecurity threats and how to implement comprehensive measures for mitigating cyber risks, prepare customized strategy and action plans, and provide ongoing support and maintenance to promote cybersecurity and cyber risk management awareness. Blank Rome’s maritime cyber risk management team has the capability to address cybersecurity issues associated with both land-based systems and systems onboard ships, including the implementation of the Guidelines on Cyber Security Onboard Ships and the IMO Guidelines on Maritime Cyber Risk Management in Safety Management Systems. To learn how Blank Rome’s Maritime Cyber Risk Management Program can help your company, please visit


Blank Rome’s Trade Sanctions and Export Compliance Review Program ensures that companies in the maritime, transportation, offshore, and commodities fields do not fall afoul of U.S. trade law requirements. U.S. requirements for trading with Iran, Cuba, Russia, Syria, and other hotspots change rapidly, and U.S. limits on banking and financial services, and restrictions on exports of U.S. goods, software, and technology, impact our shipping and energy clients daily. Our team will review and update our clients’ internal policies and procedures for complying with these rules on a fixed-fee basis. When needed, our trade team brings extensive experience in compliance audits and planning, investigations and enforcement matters, and government relations, tailored to provide practical and businesslike solutions for shipping, trading, and energy clients worldwide. To learn how the Trade Sanctions and Export Compliance Review Program can help your company, please visit or contact Matthew J. Thomas (, 202.772.5971).