Robert Force

Niels F. Johnsen Chair of Maritime Law, Emeritus

Director Emeritus, Maritime Law Center
Office Address
Weinmann Hall, Room 255-G
force_cv_2019.pdf (90.85 KB)

Education & Affiliations

LL.M. New York University Law School, 1960 (Comparative Law), Ford Civil Law Fellowship
Fulbright Scholar, 1958-59, University of Adelaide Law School
LL.B. Temple University Law School, 1958
B.S. Temple University, 1955 (with honors)


Robert Force is an internationally known authority on admiralty and criminal law who was a co-reporter for the Louisiana Code of Evidence and has written multiple articles and books on maritime law. He became the Niels F. Johnsen Chair of Maritime Law, Emeritus, upon his retirement in 2024.

Force, also director emeritus of the Maritime Law Center at Tulane, was its founding director, and held the only endowed chair in maritime law in the United States. He taught at Temple and Indiana law schools before joining the Tulane Law faculty in 1969. He served as Tulane’s acting dean in 1977-78.

Earlier in his career, because of his criminal law expertise, he was named special master to the U.S. District Court for a major case involving Orleans Parish prison conditions. He has co-authored two landmark texts, The Law of Seamen and The Law of Maritime Personal Injuries, both now in their fifth edition. He also prepared a monograph on Admiralty and Maritime Law for federal judges at the invitation of the Federal Judicial Center. And his international work includes helping to write the maritime codes for Panama and China.

The Seamen’s Church Institute in 2001 named Force a maritime law legend. The President of Panama in 2002 designated him a member of the Order de Vasco Nunez de Balboa. And a book, Jurisdiction and Forum Selection Clauses in International Maritime Law, contains a series of essays honoring Force.

He received the Louisiana Bar Foundation’s 2014 Distinguished Professor Award.