David R Boyajian


Industry focus

Industry immersion helps me forecast what my clients will find over the next wave and over the horizon.

How I represent clients at Schwabe

My industry experience as both captain and counsel helps me know where to look for creative solutions to uniquely salty problems while my courtroom experience informs how I shape maritime contracts.

I assist vessel owners, operators, underwriters, and shipyards and shipbuilders with the specialty contracts and risk mitigation structures that keep maritime businesses working.

When things get sideways, I handle all aspects of claims investigation, management, and resolution.

My litigation practice involves casualty response and investigation, collision and allision, groundings and sinkings, vessel arrest and attachment, maritime personal injury matters, various other marine insurance and commercial disputes in state and federal courts. I also represent mariners in U.S. Coast Guard suspension and revocation proceedings.

Before attending law school, I captained vessels up and down the Eastern Seaboard and throughout the Caribbean as a U.S. Coast Guard licensed Master of Sail, Power, and Assistance Tow vessels. I am a Proctor Member of the Maritime Law Association of the United States, for which I chair the committee on Inland Waters and Towing. I am a vice-chair of the American Bar Association’s Admiralty and Maritime Law Section. I graduated from Tulane Law School’s Admiralty Law Center, the nation’s preeminent maritime law program.


  • Successfully challenged an illegal transit tax imposed against passing ships by a Columbia River Port under the Tonnage Clause of the U.S. Constitution. Port was ordered to repeal its tax and return all collected funds.
  • Responded to and favorably resolved shipboard fatality in the Columbia River on behalf of vessel owners and their P&I Club.
  • Favorably resolved longshore injury claim against Columbia River terminal operator on the eve of trial.
  • Negotiated and structured research charters between vessel operators and federal agencies.
  • Successfully defended houseboat owner on the Columbia River against trial salvage claim.
  • Successfully resolved numerous claims by foreign seafarers under the Federal Arbitration Act and the International Convention of Arbitration Awards.
  • Obtained successful U.S. Build Determination authorizations on behalf of shipyard clients for numerous special projects.


  • Tulane University, Juris Doctor degree (2008)
  • University of Vermont, Bachelor of Arts degree (2001)


  • Alaska State Courts
  • California State Courts
  • Oregon State Courts
  • Washington State Courts
  • U.S. Court of Appeals - Ninth Circuit
  • U.S. District Court - Central District of California
  • U.S. District Court - District of Oregon
  • U.S. District Court - Eastern District of California
  • U.S. District Court - Northern District of California
  • U.S. District Court - Southern District of California
  • U.S. District Court - Western District of ‎Washington
  • U.S. Supreme Court


  • Maritime Law Association of the United States, Proctor Member
  • MLA Committee on Inland Waters and Towing, Secretary
  • Maritime Commerce Club of the Columbia River, Past Board President and Member
  • American Professional Captains Association, Member
  • U.S. Sailing, Certified Instructor/Member
  • Oregon State Bar Association Admiralty Section, Chair


  • San Francisco magazine, Rising Star in Maritime Law (2010-2011)
  • Selected to Oregon Super Lawyers Rising Star List, Maritime Law (2010-2011)

Additional Publications

Additional Events

“In the Wake of The ATHOS I – Safe Berth Warranties and Wharfinger Liabilities”
Washington Public Ports Association Annual Meeting
Tacoma, November 2016

“Recent Developments in Maritime Personal Injury Law – Ninth Circuit and Beyond”
Joint meeting of the Admiralty and Maritime Law Committee of the American Bar Association and the Admiralty Law Section of the Federal Bar Association United State Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
San Francisco, August 2016

“Multi-jurisdictional Examination of the OW Bunkers Bankruptcy – International Bankruptcies and U.S. Maritime Law”
Panel Moderator, Maritime Law Association of the United States General Meeting
New York City, May 2016

“Reverse Subchapter M – Uninspected Inland Barges, OSHA Regulations, and Maritime Standards of Care”
Maritime Law Association of the United States, Inland Waters and Towing Committee Meeting
New York City, May 2016

“Marijuana Legalization, Drug Testing and Maritime Employer Liability”
Maritime Commerce Club of the Columbia River
Portland, January 2016

“The High Seas: The Effects of Marijuana Legalization on Vessel Owner Liability”
Maritime Law Association of the United States, Inland Waters and Towing Committee Meeting
New York City, May 2015


Community Activities

  • Merchants Exchange of Portland, Oregon Scholarship Fund, Board Vice-President
  • A lifelong sailor, Dave has worked and volunteered as a sailing instructor and coach and has been involved with several community and adaptive sailing programs, including Shake-A-Leg Newport and the U.S. Blind Sailing Team.

Outside Interests

Fly-fishing, although neither as often nor as well as I would like.

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