Schwabe lawyers have partnered with our Northwest ports for over three decades to support growth, expand trade and improve local economies.

A partner for ports

With deep experience in maritime transportation, heavy industry, real estate and development, and the regulation of port authorities, Schwabe helps ports navigate the unique issues they face in pursuing economic growth and regional connectivity.

For decades, we have represented ports throughout the Northwest, on the Columbia River system and along the coasts in Oregon and Washington. We are extremely involved in the ports industry at large, and represent industry groups serving the interests of public ports on the Columbia River.

Comprehensive services

Whether a small regional port or the largest port in the state, we provide all the services our clients need to achieve their goals for growth and stability. We assist with everything from property acquisition, leasing and development, to rail and maritime agreements, to public meeting law compliance and navigation of high-profile controversial regional issues. Drawing on Schwabe’s vast collective experience and contacts, we help our clients stay apprised of and prepared for industry developments and trends.

Creating connections and opportunities

We understand that one key to a port’s success is its ability to maintain and grow relationships with other public and private entities, both tenants and local partners. The development of these relationships is a foundation for all that we do.


  • Partnered with a port and tenant to obtain state and federal approvals to construct a dock for the loading of vessels up to Panamax class with crude oil. 
  • Developed a long-term (25 years) container terminal lease, requiring extensive due diligence on environmental, labor, tax and commercial contracting issues. 
  • Partnered with an important regional port in significant expansion of freight access capabilities, providing support on significant environmental, permitting, acquisition, condemnation and construction issues. 
  • Represented a port in dealings with a potential large LNG facility for nearly a decade, handling complex real estate, financing, environmental, regulatory, construction and maritime issues.  
  • Worked with the NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service on behalf of a coastal port client to develop a strategy for compliance with the Endangered Species Act, providing practical advice to meet required project timelines. 
  • Secured favorable verdicts for terminal operator in several labor disputes dealing with jurisdictional issues, unfair labor practice claims, and federal injunctions and damage claims.
  • Provide ongoing general counsel services for several important ports, including drafting, reviewing and negotiating contracts and leases, ‎licenses and other real estate transaction documents; consultation and advice regarding the Washington ‎Public Records Act and Public Meetings Act; management of litigation and other ‎non-general counsel legal work; and day-to-day general recommendations and discussions with staff on compliance, legal risks, legal ‎strategies, and legislative and constitutional authority.
  • Represented a port in a complicated settlement involving Columbia River Channel Deepening, development of real property and ultimate transfer of a portion of the property subject to conservation easement to a non-profit land trust.
  • Analyzed the authority of four port districts to obtain land for dredge material outside their ‎representative port districts.‎

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