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Schwabe provides stem-to-stern counsel for maritime businesses—from ships to shipyards to shippers and from one fish boat to a fleet.

Proudly supporting a vital industry

Schwabe lawyers believe deeply in the maritime industry as the essential foundation for global trade and regional growth. We are courtroom lawyers and we are contract lawyers but, first and foremost, we are dedicated maritime practitioners. Like our clients, we’re drawn to maritime work because we know just how unique our industry and its legal challenges are. And we wouldn’t want it any other way.

Companies that move our economy forward call on Schwabe

Our clients are engaged in every sector of the maritime industry, from vessel construction to operation. We work with:

  • Members of the maritime industry including vessel and tug and barge owners and operators, fishing companies, shipyards, ports and terminals, cruise lines, boaters and fishermen, and stevedore companies
  • Protection and indemnity clubs and maritime insurance underwriters
  • Businesses that rely on ships, shipping and shipyards to get their goods or services to market

Reading the waves

Schwabe lawyers help clients see what’s over the next wave, beyond the horizon, and coming up in the years ahead. We maintain personal relationships with industry leaders, and work closely with regional and national maritime organizations. As a result, we can tell our clients which way the tide is turning in order to prepare in advance for new business and regulatory trends. Our comprehensive maritime work spans the full range of your legal needs, including:

  • Jones Act issues
  • Collision, cargo loss, salvage and marine insurance claims
  • Shipping and vessel-related transactions
  • Finance and liens
  • Employment advice and litigation
  • Real estate and leasing
  • Purchase and sale of businesses
  • Contract drafting and review
  • Regulatory and environmental compliance


  • Obtained six-figure recovery for specialty marine construction client after dangerous flood conditions disrupted a major Portland bridge construction project, necessitating emergency disaster mitigation and marine salvage procedures.
  • Achieved summary dismissal of a six-figure salvage claim against a vessel-owner client by educating a state-court fact-finder on complex nuances of federal maritime salvage law.
  • Led coalition of Washington ports in multi-year permitting effort to deepen the Columbia River navigation channel to 43 feet (completed 2010).
  • Assisted a coastal port client with the permitting needed to make it the new home for NOAA’s West Coast fleet.
  • Serve as outside General Counsel to the Columbia River Steamship Operators Association (CRSOA), providing representation on pilot tariff litigation and other work before the Oregon Board of Maritime Pilots and Oregon and Washington legislatures and administrative agencies since 1989.

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Regionally ranked in
U.S. News - Best Lawyers
"Best Law Firms"
for Admiralty and Maritime Law

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Schwabe client Port of Seattle explains how to tackle human trafficking through an innovative, educational program:

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