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Admiralty Law Institute funds new scholarship

March 24, 2015

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New Orleans attorney Patricia Krebs (L ’83) (far right) moderates a panel on arbitration and mediation at the Tulane Admiralty Law Institute March 12. Participants are (from left) LeRoy Lambert, president of Charles Taylor P&I Management (Americas), Houston-based mediator Louis P. Selig, U.S. District Judge Eldon Fallon and Barbara Aileen Bodager, assistant general counsel of Matson Navigation Co.

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Tulane maritime law alumni and friends gathered March 13 at Galvez Restaurant to cap off the 25th Biennial Admiralty Law Institute. Attendees included Professor Robert Force (standing center), director emeritus of Tulane’s Maritime Law Center, Dean David Meyer (seated center), Clyde & Co. Associate Casey Burlage (L '08) (left), and ALI Chair Frank Barry (L '73) (standing at back).

During three waterlogged New Orleans days in mid-March, more than 300 maritime lawyers convened at Tulane to learn the latest about medical malpractice and negligence claims against ships’ physicians. They heard about government regulation in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon oil-rig explosion. 

And during a discussion on compensation for injured seamen, Tulane Law Professor Martin Davies brought up the case of the Elvis impersonator who hurt his back while performing on a dinner cruise ship — but couldn’t get worker’s comp coverage because he fell under the Jones Act.

The Tulane Admiralty Law Institute, held in New Orleans for the 25th time, this year covered the gamut of maritime personal injury and death issues, with valuable content for plaintiffs’ and defense attorneys, as well as insurance and government lawyers.

The oldest and largest continuing legal education program devoted exclusively to maritime law, the institute is closely aligned with Tulane’s internationally renowned Maritime Law program and its Maritime Law Center. The event is held every other year, bringing together experts who volunteer their time to serve as panelists and present papers that then are published in a special June issue of the Tulane Law Review.

Attendees come from around the U.S., London, Scandinavia and elsewhere — for the legal training and the lagniappe. 

“The quality of the panels is always very good. The people in the audience are generally well-informed,” said Pamela Milgrim, a New York-based vice president with marine insurer Skuld North America who regularly attends.

“This conference is the place to be for the cutting edge of maritime law,” said Phelps Dunbar partner Mike Butterworth (L ’89), a Tulane Law adjunct professor. “Everyone loves to come here from around the country because it’s not too painful to be in New Orleans for St. Patrick’s Day weekend.”

Admiralty Law Institute Vice Chair John Woods (L ’80), a partner at Clyde & Co. in New York, called the event “a terrific way to get caught up with recent developments” in maritime law.

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The Mississippi River and New Orleans rooftops provided an ideal backdrop for alumni visiting following the Admiralty Law Institute. Above, Professor Martin Davies, director of Tulane’s Maritime Law Center, chats with Carrol Hand (L ’11), assistant general counsel for International Registries, Inc.

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“It’s two-and-a-half days of really top-flight presentations by people who really know the law because they’re practicing it. It’s not just listening to academic exercises,” said Woods, a member of the Tulane Law Dean’s Advisory Board.

Attendees also have a chance to network with top lawyers from all geographic regions.

“Maritime law is an international practice, so having that element here is useful as well,” Woods said.

The conference embraces younger lawyers: recent graduates as well as current Tulane students attended many of the presentations. Laura Avery (L ’14), an associate at King, Krebs & Jurgens in New Orleans wrote about the sessions for the firm’s “Offshore Winds” blog.

For much of the institute’s history, its governing structure consisted of only a chairman. Robert Acomb Jr. (L ’53), a Tulane Law School Hall of Fame member retired from Jones Walker, served as the chair for more than 20 years. At the annual speakers' dinner, held during the conference, Dean David Meyer presented Acomb with a framed engraving of Tilton Hall, the law school's home during Acomb's student days and at the time of the institute's founding, in honor of his long leadership.

In the fall, a slate of new officers was installed, all with Tulane Law ties: Chair Frank Barry (L ’73), a partner at New Orleans’ Deutsch, Kerrigan & Stiles; Vice Chair Woods; and Planning Committee Chair Patricia Krebs (L ’83), a member of King, Krebs & Jurgens in New Orleans, are alumni. Program Committee Chair David Sharpe, a partner at Lugenbuhl, Wheaton, Peck, Rankin & Hubbard in New Orleans, and Secretary/Treasurer Joshua Force, a member of Sher Garner Cahill Richter Klein & Hilbert in New Orleans, teach as adjunct professors.

Barry said there’s a healthy symbiosis among maritime law entities. The institute also is strongly supported by the Maritime Law Association of the United States, which holds a board meeting in conjunction with the conference. And the professional groups maintain strong ties to Tulane Law.

“Tulane turns out a lot of well-trained maritime lawyers,” Barry said.

Over the years, the Admiralty Law Institute has made frequent contributions to support the study of maritime law at Tulane. The latest donation, which is being finalized, is $100,000 to create an endowed Admiralty Law Institute scholarship for maritime law students in honor of past ALI chairmen: Acomb and the late Ben Yancey (L ’28) and John Sims (L ’39). 

“There’s no question that Tulane is recognized as the top U.S. admiralty law program and by many as the top international program,” said Force, whose father, Professor Robert Force, started Tulane’s Maritime Law Center. Tulane “prepares its graduates to be able to out and work for maritime law firms and in the industry knowing that they have a solid background” in the field, Joshua Force said.

Although ordinarily held only every other year, the Tulane Admiralty Law Institute will make a special return in Fall 2016 as a joint meeting with the Maritime Law Association of the United States. Organizers anticipate a record crowd of more than 500 in New Orleans for the event, which will commemorate the institute's 50th anniversary.


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