- Try It All – marine law is varied. There are so many aspects to shipping law from collisions at seas, injuries onboard, loss of cargo, ship construction contracts, charterparties, ship finance. “Ships” also come in different shapes and sizes and claims can involve yacht racing, superyachts, passenger ferries, bulk container ships…the list goes on. Therefore if you are interested in shipping law try as best you can to gain experience in as many areas as you can to see what is best for you.
- Be Flexible – in a world of ship arrests and tight time bars claims can often be fast paced and issues change hour by hour. There are not normally Jarndyce v Jarndyce type claims in the shipping world!
- Learn Your Craft – there are many who have entered the maritime law following an earlier career at sea. The technical knowledge that these people have gained will have been very useful. If you do not have such a background (like me) learn as much as you can about the industry and in particular about any areas in the industry which you wish to concentrate on. There are many great education provider out there who can help, such as MTA. I went back to university and did a LLM in Maritime Law which has been invaluable. I have known others who have taken more practical steps such as undertaking fisherman training or have joined a crew on the round the world Clipper race. These experiences give you a much more rounded view of your job.
- Be Commercial – even when acting for a yacht owner you need to advise your clients in a commercial and practical fashion. Knowing the law is very important (see 5 below) but your clients will not thank you for fighting an obscure point if it costs them time and money. Talk to your clients and understand what they want from the matter in which you are instructed.
- Work Hard – ultimately though you should strive to be as good a lawyer as you can. All of the above is important but maritime law is a complex area of law and being a technically good lawyer is a prime requirement if you wish to succeed.
Credit: Daniel Crockford, Keystone Law.