Maritime Law school degrees?


#1

I am currently a student at The State University of New York (SUNY) Maritime College. After graduation I would like to go to law school and eventually practice maritime/admiralty law. I was wondering what are some good marine law schools?


#2

[QUOTE=Frank Fontaino;174767]I am currently a student at The State University of New York (SUNY) Maritime College. After graduation I would like to go to law school and eventually practice maritime/admiralty law. I was wondering what are some good marine law schools?[/QUOTE]

Any law school you can get into and can afford. Admiralty is not really something you are going to specialize in at law school, you will specialize with your experience after law school, and possibly as an intern/law clerk while in school. So I would look for a school that is located in a major port and will give you the opportunity to clerk/intern in an Admiralty firm. I went to school in Boston, not really a major port but I was able to get work as a clerk in a maritime firm and started from there.

Most law school s only have one or possibly two maritime law courses, the only exception is Tulane. Tulane does havea fair number of maritime law courses and has a good reputation for admiralty. Try getting in touch with Jacob Shisha(SUNY '80, a classmate of mine). He went to Tulane and possibly give you some info on their program.


#3

[QUOTE=jdcavo;176011]Any law school you can get into and can afford. Admiralty is not really something you are going to specialize in at law school, you will specialize with your experience after law school, and possibly as an intern/law clerk while in school. So I would look for a school that is located in a major port and will give you the opportunity to clerk/intern in an Admiralty firm. I went to school in Boston, not really a major port but I was able to get work as a clerk in a maritime firm and started from there.

Most law school s only have one or possibly two maritime law courses, the only exception is Tulane. Tulane does havea fair number of maritime law courses and has a good reputation for admiralty. Try getting in touch with Jacob Shisha(SUNY '80, a classmate of mine). He went to Tulane and possibly give you some info on their program.[/QUOTE]

That is good advice.

Practicing law is like going fishing. The 80/20 rule is at work. 20 percent of the best fisherman catch 80 percent of the fish and do quite well, the other 80 percent of fisherman struggle to get by on the remaining 20 percent of the fish. It’s the same in law. There are too many lawyers chasing a very limited pool of legal fees. The top 20 percent of lawyers make 80 percent of the money, the rest struggle to get by on the scraps. About half of new lawyers fail and leave the practice of law within three years.

Today, in order to have a reasonable chance of finding a good job in law, it is vitally important to go to a top law school, and to do very well in school. If you go to a top 10 national school, graduate in the top half of your class, and do a second string law review, you will be competitive for jobs at top tier firms and very competitive at second tier firms. If you go to an average law school, you’ll need to graduate as one of the top 10 students in your class and be an editor of the primary law review at the school in order to be considered for a job at a top tier law firm. If you graduate in the middle of your class at an average school, you will be lucky to find any legal job.

I’d say, go to a top 10 school, or Tulane (maybe a top 25 school), or do not go to law school.

Many “admiralty” lawyers only spend a very small percentage ( maybe 10 percent) of their time on admiralty and maritime related work. The best chance to do a significant amount of “admiralty” work, is to work for one of the insurance defense firms that specializes in defending seamen’s injury claims. Your job will be to prevent injured seamen and their families from receiving compensation, or at least limiting that compensation. That is soul sucking work.

Whether you decide to go to law school or not, I suggest sailing on your license for a couple years first. Prior to starting law school build up your research, analysis, and writing skills. That’s what being a lawyer is all about.


#4

You’ll probably make more money sailing on a license a year or two out of school unless you hit it big in law.


#5

[QUOTE=tugsailor;176016]That is good advice.

…Today, in order to have a reasonable chance of finding a good job in law, it is vitally important to go to a top law school, and to do very well in school. If you go to a top 10 national school, graduate in the top half of your class, and do a second string law review, you will be competitive for jobs at top tier firms and very competitive at second tier firms. If you go to an average law school, you’ll need to graduate as one of the top 10 students in your class and be an editor of the primary law review at the school in order to be considered for a job at a top tier law firm. If you graduate in the middle of your class at an average school, you will be lucky to find any legal job…

Whether you decide to go to law school or not, I suggest sailing on your license for a couple years first. Prior to starting law school build up your research, analysis, and writing skills. That’s what being a lawyer is all about.[/QUOTE]

You’re generally right, and it would apply to a recent college graduate with no substantial work experience. But it wasn’t the case with me, I think if you have significant work experience relevant to a firm’s specialty, you have some employment potential. In my case, it was 10 years of sailing experience, that got me in the door as a law clerk and gave me the opportunity to demonstrate what I could do. I was hired by the same firm after graduation. Experienced engineers have siilar results with patent law, and accountants with tax law.

However, even with my sailing experience there were limits. I was in a very small firm and I do not think I was attractive to big firms. I was older than their typical new hire, and since I had just left a career where I had made good money for working long hours, I was perhaps less likely to buy into the work ethic they desired from their new associates (2400 billable hours per year, you typically can bill about 75% of the time you wactually work). That I came ashore evinced that I might place a higher priority on a personal life than making big $$). There is a reason why many firms offer partnership at about 7 years, by that time an associate has probably had their fill of the billable hours Kool-Aid, and a new junior partner will enthusiastically put the screws to the associates to keep up the hours.


#6

[QUOTE=tugsailor;176016]About half of new lawyers fail and leave the practice of law within three years.[/QUOTE]

I think it’s less that they “fail” and more that they either get burned out working so much or realize they hate practicing law (or both).


#7

You didn’t ask this directly but it’s worth adding that law is cyclical in terms of activity and therefore employment opportunities. Think offshore oil and gas.

Law is starting to come around but it’s been slow since the financial crisis. Bear in mind that there are a lot of un- or underemployed youngish lawyers for the past decade. Some of them holding the bag on six figure debt for the privilege. The law schools haven’t really shared their grads’ pain and mainly kept enrollments swollen.

It’ll come back when (if)the economy comes back but probably not the way it was. The reason is tech. Firms used to hire cheap first- year associates to do their paper-sifting research for their aforementioned 2400 billable hours. Now all that can be done (better) by Watson-like machines, in minutes.

My story, in case you’re interested is that my employer paid for law school 20+ years ago. Good luck finding a deal like that, they are extinct. I practiced very briefly as I didn’t have the confidence to change careers past 30 years old. But on balance I don’t regret getting the degree, it was like top-notch finishing school, I learned great stuff. But for me it was free and I didn’t have to justify it economically. So caveat emptor.

Jake Shisha’s a good guy, hope you track him down.


#8

Give this a read and carefully assess WHY you want to go to law school.

http://thehustle.co/why-you-shouldnt-go-to-law-school-by-tucker-max