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Transportation, Ports and Maritime


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Schwabe maintains one of the largest maritime, ports and transportation practices in the Pacific Northwest. 

Leading ports and operators call on Schwabe

Whether by sea, by rail, or points in between, entities involved in maritime commerce and the movement of cargo trust Schwabe with the full spectrum of their legal needs. We draw on our deep background and industry engagement to provide a comprehensive understanding of the unique issues that impact this vital economic driver. Our clients include:

  • Ports throughout Oregon and Washington
  • Maritime contractors
  • Fishing vessel operators and seafood companies
  • Maritime operators
  • Railroads

Strong experience for a strong economy

We bring extensive experience and insight to bear for every client we serve, with more than 30 lawyers working collaboratively to help industry players navigate complex legal, regulatory and political issues. From contracts to real estate to labor and employment, and from the most arcane issues of maritime law to the latest regulatory wrinkle, our lawyers see clients through every challenge to get the job done.

Rapid response to incidents and emergencies

While our companies and society have become safer through improved equipment and increased knowledge, we still must be ready to respond to incidents both small and large. Schwabe’s Rapid Response team deploys within minutes to help clients comply with reporting requirements, secure evidence at the scene of an incident, craft public statements, and protect interests in investigations and/or litigation. 

24/7 Rapid Response Team


  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Developed a long-term (25 years) container terminal lease, requiring extensive due diligence on environmental, labor, tax and commercial contracting issues.
  • Led coalition of Washington ports in multi-year permitting effort to deepen the Columbia River navigation channel to 43 feet (completed 2010).
  • Partnered with an important regional port in significant expansion of freight access capabilities, providing support on significant environmental, permitting, acquisition, condemnation and construction 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 and make the port the home for NOAA’s West Coast fleet.
  • Secured favorable verdicts for terminal operator in labor disputes dealing with jurisdictional issues, unfair labor practice claims, and federal injunctions and damage claims.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • ‎Assist Class I railroad with a variety of Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) and other injury litigation.

Client Results

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