William R. Bennett | BlankRome
Bill Bennett is a member of our Maritime Emergency Response Team (“MERT”).
Bill’s clients are predominantly in the global shipping, trade, and energy markets. He has spent his career providing legal assistance on a broad range of international matters.
Bill handles contentious and non-contentious matters for a large global client base. He has arbitrated and litigated many significant marine and shore-based disputes, including:
• Complex shipping and international trade disputes
• Large casualties resulting in wrongful death and personal injury
• Collisions, allisions, groundings, and sinkings
• Fire damage
• Insurance coverage disputes
Bill has also served as arbitrator and mediator for marine personal injury and contract disputes.
Bill is a graduate of SUNY Maritime College, sailed as a licensed officer, and holds a degree in Naval Architecture. In connection with his education at SUNY Maritime College, he obtained his Unlimited Third Mate’s license from the United States Coast Guard (“USCG”). He worked aboard various vessels in the capacity of Third Mate, Second Mate (limited tonnage), and Master (limited tonnage), including oil tankers, ocean-going tugs, dredges, and yachts.
Chambers USA notes that a client describes Bill as “very personable, doesn’t deal in legalese, provides succinct and clear advice and provides it quickly.”
Lauren B. Wilgus | BlankRome
Lauren Wilgus is a member of our Maritime Emergency Response
Lauren Wilgus concentrates her practice in the areas of international and maritime litigation and alternate dispute resolution. She has more than 19 years’ experience in the shipping industry and counsels clients regarding maritime matters, including:
• General litigation and counseling on behalf of domestic and foreign corporate interests
• International and domestic commercial contract disputes, including arbitrations under AAA, ICC, SMA, and ad hoc arbitration terms
• Marine insurance coverage disputes, including protection and indemnity, general commercial liability, and marine liability
• Charterparty and contract disputes
• COGSA and multi-modal cargo damage claims
• Maritime attachment (Rule B) and vessel arrest (Rule C) actions
• Marine casualty investigations
• Recognition and enforcement of foreign arbitration awards and judgments
• Commercial negotiations and dispute resolutions involving charter party, service contract, and other transportation-related agreements
• Disputes related to delays to construction projects
• Actions involving the U.S. Shipowner’s Limitation of Liability Act
Prior to entering private practice, Lauren worked both as a claims adjuster at a major Japanese shipping
company and as a claims executive at a P&I Club.
Lauren has been recognized by Chambers USA every year since 2013 as an associate to watch in shipping litigation, and is noted by a client as being “thorough and organized,” “quick to grasp the relevant issues and facts,” and a “rising star who is very good technically.”
Douglas J. Shoemaker | BlankRome
Douglas Shoemaker is a member of our Maritime Emergency Response Team (“MERT”).
Douglas focuses his practice on complex maritime transactions and litigation. He has over 25 years’ experience advising clients on a wide range maritime law topics, including charterparty negotiation and drafting, arbitration, vessel construction and flagging, purchase and sale, and mergers and acquisitions, personal injury, property damage, pollution, onboard investigations, navigational error, Jones Act, stevedoring accidents, cargo damage defense, and general average.
He has particular experience in:
• Negotiating and drafting complex maritime agreements, including vessel construction, purchase and sale; time, voyage and bareboat charterparties; towage; contracts of affreightment; bills of lading; master services agreements; general terms and conditions; indemnity and insurance provisions
• Defending maritime personal injury and property damage cases in state and federal courts
• Arbitrations before the Society of Maritime Arbitrators in New York, the London Maritime Arbitrators Association, the Houston Maritime Arbitrators Association, the American Arbitrators Association, and JAMS
• Defending and prosecuting maritime seizure proceedings
• Insurance defense and coverage
• Domestic and international mergers and acquisitions, particularly concerning maritime assets and issue
Douglas has worked as a master mariner licensed by the U.S. Coast Guard.
Chambers USA states that clients describe Douglas as “very personable and very knowledgeable” and “thoughtful and pragmatic, while being very aggressive and thorough in terms of representation.” “One observer reports: ‘His greatest strengths are his practical application of his broad experience and an ability to identify the critical issues.’”
Stefanos N. Roulakis | BlankRome
Stefanos Roulakis focuses on assisting vessel owners and operators navigate U.S. law and regulations to ensure commercial success and operational efficiency. Stefanos counsels clients on a wide range of regulatory matters, including international and domestic environmental standards, cabotage requirements, and international trade, including sanctions compliance. Stefanos is also active in proactive approaches to maritime compliance through audits and trainings, and has assisted clients in internal investigations and investigations conducted by the U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Department of Justice.
Stefanos has experience in advising on aspects of international maritime law (such as the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea and MARPOL) to a variety of clients and stakeholders. This work has impacted a variety of companies who seek to obtain commercial benefits from the seas while providing valuable services.
As a Fulbright Scholar in Turkey, Stefanos worked for the Ecumenical Patriarch, the leader of the world’s 300 million Orthodox Christians, advising the Patriarchate on press issues relating to human rights and media. In part as a result of this experience, Stefanos is fluent in Turkish and Greek, and is proficient in French and Russian.
Kierstan L. Carlson | BlankRome
Kierstan Carlson helps corporate and individual clients navigate a wide range of white-collar enforcement actions and complex civil litigation matters.
A significant portion of Kierstan’s practice is focused on the shipping industry. She defends clients in maritime criminal cases involving MARPOL, the Clean Water Act, the Ports and Waterways Safety Act, and the Seaman’s Manslaughter Act. Kierstan also advises clients in criminal and civil enforcement actions involving the False Claims Act, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, customs fraud, and other regulatory violations, as well as in civil fraud litigation in federal and state courts in the District of Columbia and the Commonwealth of Virginia. An important aspect of Kierstan’s practice is working with businesses to implement and audit compliance programs in order to rebound from and improve in the wake of criminal prosecutions and civil penalty actions. Where applicable, she works closely with the firm’s Government Contracts practice to manage potential suspension and debarment issues.