A Note from the Chair, Maritime and International Trade Practice Group

Mainbrace | March 2016 (No. 2)

John D. Kimball

As we gather for CMA 2016, “Volatility” seems to be the key word for this year. It is the year of the monkey in the Far East. It is a presidential election year here in the United States, with such a wide range of campaign themes and personalities in the running that a state of uncertainty and confusion is understandable both at home and abroad. Stock markets world-wide continue gyrating. And many sectors of the shipping industry seem to be in the mode of simply bracing to get through the year, wishing that 2016 would hurry up so that we can put it behind us. To the extent the work of law firms can be said to serve as an economic indicator, what do we see happening? Our insolvency and restructuring practice continues to be very active. Regulatory compliance continues to have an important role, and we expect that to be a permanent feature of the business. Sanctions issues also remain very active. But the shipping business has been through turbulent seas many times before and the resilient spirit of the people working in this business is remarkable. It is impressive that so many sectors of the shipping business are holding to a long-term positive view. This year’s theme of the CMA is “Local Talent, Global Impact,” and that seems very apt. We look forward to participating in the discussions.

Blank Rome Welcomes More than 100 Attorneys from Dickstein Shapiro in D.C. and NY

Mainbrace | March 2016 (No. 2)

Blank Rome LLP is pleased to announce that more than 100 attorneys and additional staff from Dickstein Shapiro LLP’s New York and Washington, D.C., offices have joined the Firm.

As a result of this deal, Blank Rome offers its combined client base expanded and enhanced capabilities. The Firm now has more than 620 attorneys across 14 offices; a more robust presence in Washington, D.C., that is more than triple its prior size and includes prominent insurance coverage and government contracts practices; an expanded, leading intellectual property group, both in terms of size and experience; and greater strategic depth in other core areas, including corporate and finance, real estate, and litigation. Continue reading “Blank Rome Welcomes More than 100 Attorneys from Dickstein Shapiro in D.C. and NY”

Blank Rome’s James B. Ellis II Receives Pro Bono Distinguished Service Award by ISCGA Alumni Association

Mainbrace | January 2016 (No. 1)

Blank Rome Of Counsel James B. Ellis II received a “Distinguished Service” award by the U.S. Coast Guard Academy (“USCGA”) Alumni Association for his pro bono legal work and service on the Association’s Board of Directors. The USCGA Alumni Association provides services to and promotes fellowship among its members, raising funds to provide “margin of excellence” support to the Corps of Cadets and to preserve traditions and enhance the reputation of the Academy. For more information, please click here.

Jeanne M. Grasso Named 2015 Top Ten Shipping Lawyer by Lloyd’s List

Mainbrace | January 2016 (No. 1)

Blank Rome Partner Jeanne M. Grasso, who serves as vice-chair of the Firm’s maritime group and co-chair of the maritime industry team, has been named by Lloyd’s List as one of the top ten lawyers for shipping law in 2015. Ms. Grasso’s honor is highlighted in the Lloyd’s List “One Hundred” (Edition Six, December 2015), which promotes the most influential people in the shipping industry, from the top one hundred influential industry leaders to the top ten ports & logistics operators, insurance personalities, lawyers, offshore experts, regulators, classification societies, brokers, and finance executives. Regarding Ms. Grasso, Lloyd’s List states: “Known for her work in the regulatory sphere, Ms. Grasso’s name is synonymous with coast guard and environmental matters. She is known for having great operational prowess with her clients, helping them to meet or exceed regulatory requirements.” To view the full list of top ten shipping lawyers and Lloyd’s List “One Hundred,” please visit http://www.lloydslist.com.

A Note from the Vice-Chair, and Co-Chair of the Maritime Industry Team

Mainbrace | January 2016 (No. 1)

Jeanne M. Grasso

First, I want to take the opportunity to wish everyone a very Happy New Year and an exciting and prosperous 2016! Second, I want to give a special shout-out to our maritime partner, Tom Belknap, who has kept Mainbrace going for more than a decade now, since Blank Rome’s combination with Healy & Baillie back in 2006. Because of Tom’s hard work, Mainbrace keeps getting better and, because of your support, our readership continues to grow.

2015 was an interesting year for the shipping industry. The dry bulk market had a very challenging 2015, with the Baltic Dry Index hitting new all-time lows. Based on various reports, the outlook for 2016 is not very positive, either. Yet, the tanker market had a very strong year—the best since 2008— largely because of the drop in oil prices. On the other hand, the low oil prices had a negative effect on the offshore sec- tor, causing charter rates to fall and many vessels to go into layup. These trends are likely to continue into 2016.

There have also been significant legislative and regulatory developments: the crude export ban was lifted; Cuba sanctions were eased, thus creating new opportunities for travel and transport; the .01% sulfur requirements went into effect in the North American and Caribbean Emissions Control Areas; and ballast water challenges continue. The ballast water conundrum will become even more of a conundrum when IMO’s Ballast Water Management Convention goes into effect, very likely in late 2016.

And, sadly, criminal prosecutions for MARPOL violations continue apace, with more than a dozen investigations, indictments, and convictions last year. That said, some voluntary disclosures to the U.S. Coast Guard have helped ship owners and operators avoid criminal prosecution—in large part based on the strength of the environmental compliance systems that they have in place. To assist our clients, we’ve developed a Maritime Compliance Audit Program to help owners and operators manage their environmental and safety risks, which is tailored to an owner and operator’s particular needs.

2015 was also a good year for Blank Rome’s maritime group, having been selected as the winner of the Lloyd’s List 2015 North American Award for “Maritime Services – Legal”; ranked number one nationally for litigation and regulatory matters by Chambers USA, with seven of our attorneys also ranked and recognized as leaders in their field; ranked top-tier in Chambers Global for shipping litigation, with John Kimball being recognized as a leading shipping attorney; and ranked top-tier both nationally and regionally by U.S. News & World Report – Best Lawyers® for admiralty and maritime law. For additional 2015 maritime recognitions and rankings, please click here.

So, looking into my crystal ball, I think 2016 will be another exciting and interesting year for our maritime industry, and we at Blank Rome look forward to working with you and helping you navigate the inevitable challenges that a new year brings.

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