Finally, let’s look at how one becomes an attorney practicing maritime law. The start of this journey doesn’t differ much from the education other lawyers need to go through. Still, its final stages require specialization to learn the specific skills necessary to become a lawyer in this field of work.
The first step toward a maritime law degree is getting into college - you’ll need to complete your bachelor’s degree first. Although your primary field of study can be whatever you like, it helps if it’s something related to economics or marine studies, as that’ll be a stronger stepping stone for the rest of your career path. The undergraduate studies usually take four years.
With a diploma in your hand, you should head to a law school to begin your specialization. An LSAT test is a requirement, with higher scores securing you a place in more elite schools along with the grades from your previous studies.
Once in law school, your goal should be to sign up for as many maritime law courses as possible. These include, but are not limited to, marine insurance, marine pollution, international law, and employee compensation. It’s not an easy degree to obtain, nor is it a short study. On average, a law school takes three years to complete.
The final step is licensure. Once you’ve out of law school as a Juris Doctor, you’ll need to pass the bar exam in your state before you can begin practicing maritime law. This is a particularly challenging exam requiring thorough preparation. Once you pass it, though, you can apply for a state license and become a maritime lawyer.
Maritime Lawyer Salary
Compared to colleagues in other fields of law, it may seem as if maritime lawyers aren’t making nearly as much money. Like with any attorney job, your earnings depend on many factors, including your level of education, experience, even your place of residence.
The national average for maritime layers is $75,000, which is approximately $36 an hour. Granted, this is just the median. Salaries vary greatly, from $19,000 to $151,000 a year, with the majority falling in the $90,000-$100,000 range.
Maritime attorney jobs are not paid the same across the US. For example, a lawyer in Baltimore can expect to earn $98,000 while their colleagues in Los Angeles can earn up to $164,000 a year. Aside from LA, Washington DC is another good location for lawyers practicing maritime law. Lawyers in the capital earn $160,000 on average. So, these are the two cities where you should be trying to get your law practice going if you’re aiming for a higher salary.
Maritime Lawyer Job Outlook
Even in the 21st century, we’re using oceans and seas to travel and transport all kinds of goods, and there’s always some legal work involved. Incidents like the infamous Ever Given container blocking the Suez Canal or the disaster of Costa Concordia all required legal help with solving many disputes that arose in the aftermath.
Therefore, a maritime lawyer will pretty much always have their hands full with various legal cases. Nowadays, it’s not unusual for shipping companies to house their own legal department, opening many opportunities for maritime law internships for freshly graduated lawyers. There are also law firms that focus on the law of the sea in particular. In short, as long as people are traveling, working, or trading across bodies of water, there will be work for maritime attorneys.
There’s one thing to keep in mind. You’re not the only fish in this pond called legal business. With thousands of licenses issued each year to attorneys eager to prove their worth, the competition for maritime attorney jobs is stronger than ever.
The good thing is that there are always new job openings available. Many branches of industry are involved in the maritime business one way or another, and at one point, they’ll require legal advice from an attorney specialized in admiralty law. Even better, they might need to hire a lawyer to permanently fill the position of their advisor for all seafaring matters.
Maritime law practice is a flexible one, meaning that once you get your degree, you can expect many different maritime law career prospects to come your way, along with various ways to deepen your knowledge of maritime law.
Apart from working as a legal counsel, there’s always an option to take up a law professor job and pass on your knowledge to new generations. It’s a noble profession, and law schools are always on the lookout for teachers.