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From personal experience, mention the phrase “admiralty and maritime law” to someone who casually asks the question “What kind of law do you practice?” and you are likely to receive in return puzzled expressions and a response that amounts to “What is THAT?”. So….what DO maritime lawyers really DO, anyway? A primer for those not yet in the know:

Admiralty and maritime attorneys in Charleston deal with some of the same types of matters that land-side lawyers deal with – business contracts, insurance matters, and work-place injuries, for example, however, their job is to advise clients on these matters against the backdrop of the peculiarities of the admiralty and maritime law, which is basically international law rooted in the rules of the ancient Mediterranean shipping trade. Maritime attorneys also deal with a number of matters which may be largely unknown to the non-maritime lawyer, including claims on behalf of Longshoremen or Jones Act seamen, the in rem arrest of vessels or cargo, foreclosure of maritime liens, claims for loss or damage to cargo under the Carriage of Goods by Sea Act, claims for maritime salvage, passenger claims, and U.S. Customs and Border Patrol issues.

Another question that we get asked quite a bit is: “How did you become a maritime lawyer?” We became maritime lawyers in the way that many others before us did – by combining a love for the water with a desire for a specialization within the practice of law. John Hughes Cooper  began his practice in 1981 with a admiralty and maritime firm in Savannah, Georgia and has been practicing maritime law in South Carolina since that time. John Townsend Cooper grew up in and around the Charleston fishing industry and his father’s maritime law practice and decided after law school to join his father’s practice.

It is an easy thing to “decide” to be a maritime attorney, but, in Charleston, South Carolina at least, a much more difficult task to actually become one. While there are quite a few attorneys in South Carolina who “dabble” in the practice of maritime law, at least in the personal injury arena, there are only a handful whose practices are made up in large part of admiralty and maritime cases.


The attorneys at John Hughes Cooper, P.C. cover the waterfront in the area of admiralty and maritime law. If you are in need of a maritime lawyer in Charleston or in any other part of South Carolina, the law firm of John Hughes Cooper, P.C. has over 30 years of experience assisting those in South Carolina and other locations in the Southeast with admiralty and maritime law related issues. Please call or email us at any time for a free, confidential consultation.