How to Become a Maritime Lawyer

Because the laws pertaining to the sea are much different than those that govern the land, a very particular type of lawyer is needed when problems arise on the water–a maritime lawyer. Also commonly referred to as an admiral lawyer, a maritime attorney must be well-versed in this very specialized field that has been in existence long before most other areas of law. Maritime law deals with any issues that may arise at sea, and from an accident caused by colliding fishing boats to a conflict stemming from an environmental infraction, there are many complicated scenarios that lawyers practicing this type of law must know how to handle. Interested in a career as a maritime attorney? Here’s what you need to do to become one.

Complete an Undergraduate Degree

The first step towards becoming a maritime lawyer is to go to college and get an undergraduate degree. When it comes to undergraduate studies, there isn’t a particular field that you must have a degree in in order to pursue a career in maritime law–but you may find one in marine studies, government, or economics to be very helpful, indeed.

Take and Pass the LSAT

Once you’ve graduated college with an undergraduate degree, you’ll need to take and pass the LSAT (Law School Administration Test) if you want to go on to law school. A respectable score on the LSAT is required to get into law school, so it’s essential that you prepare for and do well on the test if you’re ultimate goal is to become a maritime lawyer.

Get into Law School

Your undergraduate GPA, LSAT score, law school application, and personal interviews are some of the things that law schools will closely exam when considering you for admission–so apply to several different law schools where you can study maritime law in order to increase your chances of getting into one. Before applying to various law schools, contact the LSDA (Law School Data Assembly) and send them your transcripts. When you apply to a law school, the LSDA will forward your transcripts and your LSAT score for you, making the application process a slightly easier one.

Study Maritime Law

Since maritime law is very different from other types of law, it’s very important that you take many specialty courses in addition to the basic foundation ones that are required. Admiralty Law, Marine Insurance, Injured Employee Compensation, Marine Pollution, and International Law are just some of the courses you might take when studying this highly individualized field of law. On the average, it takes law students about three years to go through law school. Be aware of the time commitment before you begin–a law degree isn’t something you can obtain overnight.

Apply for Licensure

A juris doctor is what you’ll earn upon successful completion and graduation from law school–and once you’ve got it, you’ll be able to take the bar exam in your state. Bar exams may vary from state to state, but one thing is for certain–you must pass it in order to get licensed in your state to practice law. Since the bar exam is known to be quite challenging, prepare and study hard before you take it. Once you pass you’ll be able to apply for state licensure, the final step to becoming a maritime lawyer.

The pathway to a career in maritime law may not be an easy one, but hard work and determination will pay off in a big way when all is said and done. Follow these steps if you want to become a maritime lawyer and see for yourself all of the rewards that this line of work can offer you.

Guest post from Tracy Sheldon. Tracy writes about boat insurance for BoatInsurance.org.

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