Category Archives: Maritime law

From New Delhi to New Orleans: A journey with Bob Marley

By Divesh Kaul
(Divesh Kaul, a trained lawyer from India, has taught in Bhutan and India and worked in the nonprofit sector. He completed an LLM at Tulane Law School in 2016. Unwilling to put New Orleans behind him yet, he now is pursuing an SJD with a focus on international economic law. He hopes to work in that area and/or in human rights. Here’s why he wanted to continue at Tulane Law.)

Ooh, yeah! All right! We’re jammin’, I wanna jam it with you, and I hope you like jammin’, too.

After my long flight from India, this Bob Marley song playing in a taxi was first music I heard upon my arrival in New Orleans in July 2015.

Divesh Kaul (LLM '16) now is studying for a Tulane Law SJD.

Divesh Kaul (LLM ’16) now is studying for a Tulane Law SJD.

The Haitian driver, Victorien, was taking me to Tulane University, which would be my home for the next year. During the half-hour drive, Victorien shared his ordeals in Haiti, where he had been a police officer, and how happy he was to be living in New Orleans with his family. His eyes glimmered while he drove and joyfully described his experiences in New Orleans. Marley meanwhile sang in the background:

‘Cos every day we pay the price with a little sacrifice, jammin’ till the jam is through.

I stayed in Tulane’s student housing for a week while searching for an apartment. It was there that I met Fakrul, a graduate student from Bangladesh, who was also looking for an apartment to rent. Thanks to the law school’s orientation session for LLM students, I found my two other futures housemates, Nicholas from Bolivia and Zhang Chao from China. Four of us decided to move into an apartment that was a 15-minute walk from the campus. It turned out that the day we moved in, July 30, was the same day that Bob Marley & the Wailers had visited New Orleans in 1978 during the “Kaya Tour,” where they sang in a concert at The Warehouse:

Exodus! movement of Jah people … we’re leaving Babylon … are you satisfied with the life you’re living? we know where we’re going, we know where we’re from.

An apartment shared among four Tulane students from four different nationalities was no less than a culinary delight. The sharing was not limited to numerous collective meals. The Bolivian housemate became a fan of Bollywood films. My Chinese and Bangladeshi housemates enjoyed free haircuts given by me. Our umpteen household discussions ranged from cultural stereotypes to funny anecdotes, from theology to national issues and from quotidian matters to interdisciplinary discourses. Also, Zhang Chao issued us a travel advisory for his country when we learnt that wearing a green hat in China meant one’s wife was unfaithful!

Tulane Law LLM and international students for 2015-16 gather in the courtyard.

Tulane Law LLM and international students for 2015-16 gather in the courtyard.

I reached Tulane a month before the fall semester began, but as international students we already were busy. The orientation was intensive, but daily interactions with the LLM and exchange students from 39 different nationalities and the blossoming of numerous friendships made it the most enjoyable period. For every international student in our LLM batch, studying in an American law school was a new venture. Some had left their countries for the first time. Some never wrote an exam on computer before. Others came from a non-common law background.

Each one of us had apprehensions. Even so, we realized that each one of us had some strengths, too. The LLM students sat together in smaller congenial groups in study rooms, the students lounge, Tulane University’s LBC student center or elsewhere and had the longest discussions on law topics. In the process, we became each other’s strengths while we helped each other prevail over the academic barriers. During one such group discussion, James, one of my batch-mates from Zimbabwe, told me that 35 years earlier, in April 1980, when his country won independence, India’s then-Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, visited their country and participated in their independence celebrations. That year, 1980, was also the year Marley performed his last “Uprising Tour,” and he sang on the eve of Zimbabwean independence:

Every man gotta right to decide his own destiny … so arms in arms, with arms we will fight this little struggle ’cause that’s the only way we can overcome our little trouble.

Kaul traveled to New York City among other locations during his first year in New Orleans.

Kaul traveled to New York City among other locations during his first year in New Orleans.

The welcome lunch offered by Dean David Meyer and his wife, Professor Amy Gajda, at their residence was a great celebration of our new beginnings. I also fondly cherish Professor Herb Larson and his wife, Julianne, greeting and treating us a couple of times at their Edwardian house equipped with a magnificent piano and a large antique mahogany dining table.
The fall and spring sessions progressed at full steam, with LLM and JD students shoulder to shoulder marching across the corridors, rushing from one class to another, sneaking in to symposia and seminars, reading endless black legal letters in the library and making outlines, conversing in the student lounge filled with the aroma of dark roast coffee and working for law reviews.

Tulane Law LLMs got in the New Orleans spirit for Halloween.

Tulane Law LLMs got in the New Orleans spirit for Halloween.

Despite the strenuous schedule, never-ending readings and memorandums, students managed to balance law school with family, work and — most certainly — leisure. Some went together to watch the latest flick, others preferred a weekend drink at a bar. Students visited the legendary French Quarter, saw the Halloween parade and took part in celebrating New Year’s Eve. Law school and students’ associations also performed their sets of rituals, including organizing formal balls and pizza parties. The Mardi Gras parades in February were a centerpiece of the New Orleans experience. The celebrations coinciding with the 71st birth anniversary of Bob Marley were icing on the cake. One night, after experiencing the extensive parades in the French Quarter, we righteously grabbed some coke and rums at Café Negril on Frenchmen Street, where the live band sang:

You’re gonna lively up yourself and don’t be no drag, you lively up yourself and don’t say no … you rock so like you never did before … be alive today!

While we progressed in our graduate study in law, Tulane and New Orleans suitably embraced us with open arms and let us live like never before. I learnt a lot about America’s evolution through various civil and political struggles and how law contributed in them. The 14th Amendment and cases such as Brown v. Board of Education and Obergefell v. Hodges have been some of the legal landmarks instrumental in America’s shaping. During a day tour to the Whitney Plantation Museum of Slavery, our tour guide quoted Marcus Garvey: “the man who is not able to develop and use his mind is bound to be the slave of the other man who uses his mind.” Prejudice and suppression have prevailed in all nations and among all races, and slavery exists even today in many forms, the guide observed.

Bob Marley, too, was influenced by Garvey’s speech in Nova Scotia in October 1937 when he wrote the “Redemption Song”:

Emancipate yourself from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds … won’t you help to sing, these songs of freedom.

Humanity, nonetheless, has come a long way ahead from the “separate but equal” doctrine, segregation laws and colonialism. I have also learned that music has been one of the tools of liberation from suffering and poverty. In Kingston, Bob Marley found it through reggae. In New Orleans, Louis Armstrong found it through jazz.

Kaul and friends celebrated the conclusion of their LLM year with a cruise.

Kaul and friends celebrated the conclusion of their LLM year with a cruise.

No doubt my learnings at Tulane were more than academic. I discerned a portrayal of various national characters from my LLM batch-mates such as Italian enthusiasm, German compassion, Greek resilience, Irish wittiness, Chinese humility, Bolivian wisdom, Turkish generosity, Panamanian boldness, Nigerian calmness, Zimbabwean contentedness, Venezuelan perseverance, Albanian forthrightness and American openness. I must admit that I learnt the correct way to practice meditation through the ancient Indian tradition of Yoga only after attending Professor Keith Werhan’s “mindful lawyering” sessions. I realized that sometimes one needed an outsider’s perspective to understand the pros and cons of one’s national system and appreciate it better.

Just before my spring exams commenced, I also came to know that Bob Marley’s grandson, Nico Marley, who is a business student and football player at Tulane.

My Zimbabwean batch-mate, James, once mentioned a Zulu saying, “Umuntu Ngumuntu Ngabantu,” meaning a person is a person because of people. That swiftly reminded me of an ancient Indian proverb with similar connotations, “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam,” meaning the world is one family. Bob Marley justly summarized these ancient words of wisdom:

Me only have one ambition, y’know. I only have one thing I really like to see happen. I like to see mankind live together – black, white, Chinese, everyone – that’s all.

A gulf sunset near Cuba.

Tulane truly has been a global village where our academic upbringing ensued with members of global community instilling in us precious values from all over the world. After spring exams, my LLM journey culminated with a seven-day cruise with my six batch-mates from New Orleans to the Caribbean, covering Mexico, the Cayman Islands and Jamaica. 

International law student explores U.S., finds lifelong friendships

Tulane Law | Dennis Zhao (LLM '15)

Chinese student Dennis Zhao (LLM ’15) moved to New Orleans to complete his LLM in Admiralty degree at Tulane Law. Photo courtesy of Dennis Zhao.

Dennis Zhao (LLM ’15) had never taken an American-style road trip before starting Tulane Law’s LLM program.

In his native China, Zhao relied on public transport for daily travel, and venturing far outside his hometown was difficult without a vehicle, he said. He’d never thought to simply hop into a car and drive cross-country.

That changed on his birthday in October 2014, when six Tulane Law classmates showed up at his New Orleans apartment and told him they were taking a trip. Justus Langelittig (Germany), Enrique Rubio (Spain), Joaquin De Obarrio (Panama), Nathan Sarkas (South Africa), David Morales (Mexico) and Zhao then set out to explore the Deep South over fall break. With a rented van and several maps, they took highways through historic plantation towns, rolling hills and oak-covered landscapes through Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Tennessee.

Zhao discovered southern communities and culture that was “totally different from what I learned in books and movies when I was in China – another beautiful side of the United States,” he said.

And it led to lasting camaraderie with his Tulane Law classmates.

“I realized that we were six guys from six different countries,” Zhao said. “We shared stories and opinions on the road. We made jokes. This was the first time that I felt no concept of ‘foreigners’ in my mind. We established life-long, international friendships.”

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Throughout his time as a Tulane Law grad student, Zhao kept exploring (and photographing) sights in New Orleans and beyond: Lush landscapes and vibrant student life on Tulane’s campus. Sailing Lake Pontchartrain with Adjunct Professor Mike Butterworth (L ‘89). The Mississippi River’s bustling shipping industry. The unmatched energy of New Orleans Saints and Pelicans games – and Mardi Gras. Picturesque and historic architecture throughout the South. Thriving cities like New York and Washington, D.C.

Zhao even ventured to Alaska with classmate Joaquin de Obarrio (LLM ’15) during spring break.

After graduating, Zhao took one more road trip solo, visiting southern states he and his classmates weren’t able to reach: North Carolina, South Carolina and eastern Georgia.

And, although he and his friends are now spread across the world, Zhao said they still talk daily.

He credits Tulane for encouraging students to explore their surroundings, be open to other cultures and contribute to their communities.

“We opened our minds and hearts to share ideas and opinions. And we finally became a unique international family,” Zhao said. “I think this is the most important thing we got as LLMs.”

“Every international student has the same feeling: Tulane and NOLA are our home.”

Zhao is set to take the New York bar exam in February 2016 before returning to China.

Maritime program channels hands-on training and professional connections

Tulane’s globally preeminent Maritime Law program offers a powerful combination of specialized coursework and practical skills-building. Maritime law students can take classes taught by industry leaders and world-renowned faculty; network with attorneys at admiralty events throughout New Orleans; and tackle researching, writing and editing scholarly articles for the Tulane Maritime Law Journal, one of the nation’s top-cited maritime publications.

Tulane Law | Maritime law

Matthew Drennan (LLM ’15) shares his research for the Tulane Maritime Law Journal with practitioners at Liskow & Lewis.

What’s more, Tulane’s maritime journal provides expanding opportunities to send students into the field and gain real-world experience with practitioners.

For the past four semesters, the Tulane Maritime Law Journal has partnered with the American Bar Association to feature student writing at a public presentation sponsored by the Liskow & Lewis firm in New Orleans.

The event, made possible through the Admiralty & Maritime Law Committee of the ABA’s Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Section, lets students share their scholarship with practicing attorneys.

“It’s a great opportunity to make collegial connections with maritime practitioners, which can be invaluable in the job hunt — especially for journal members looking to practice maritime law in the Gulf South,” said Michael Gaines (L ’16), who presented his case note in March.

Tulane Law | Maritime law

Claire Galley (L ’16) chats with maritime attorneys and students after presenting her case note.

Claire Galley (L ’16) said she plans to use video of her presentation as a “speaking sample” for potential employers to gauge her public-speaking skills.

“The presentation series allows students to interact with local practitioners working in the areas they’re writing about and showcase their research in a non-academic setting,” said Bryan Kitz (L ’15), the Tulane Maritime Law Journal’s outgoing editor in chief.

Maritime journal members can also gain specialized advocacy training by getting involved in the annual Judge John R. Brown Admiralty Moot Court Competition. Though organized by the University of Texas School of Law, the event travels to a different law school each year; Tulane Law is set to host it in 2017. The Maritime Law Association of the United States co-sponsors the competition.

Tulane Law | Maritime law

Tulane Law students celebrate moot court wins at Charleston’s Marion Square. Back row: Scott Ferrier (L ’16), Kyle Brennan (LLM ’15), Noah Grillo (L ’15) and Alana Riksheim (L ’16). Front row: Laura Beck (L ’15), Taylor Coley and Rob Adams (both L ’16).

Tulane sent two teams to this year’s competition at Charleston School of Law. The team of Noah Grillo (L’15), Scott Ferrier and Alana Riksheim (both L ’16) placed third out of 22 teams, while Kyle Brennan (LLM ’15), Rob Adams and Taylor Coley (both L ’16) finished ninth.

Competitors researched and drafted appellate briefs on current maritime issues and argued both sides of their cases, then received practical pointers from attorneys, academics and members of the judiciary who volunteered as judges.

“It was a great lesson on the subjective nature of the legal profession and the importance of tailoring arguments and presentations to a specific person,” Grillo said. “I now feel much more ready to present my ideas and arguments to a sometimes adversarial audience.”

Riksheim said she “found it particularly rewarding to see how much better we got stylistically, thanks to the judges’ feedback.”

Laura Beck (L ’15), who served in the U.S. Merchant Marine before starting law school, coached Tulane’s teams with input from professors, local maritime attorneys and Coast Guard members.

Tulane Maritime Law Journal and the Judge John R. Brown competition are great ways to prepare for becoming a lawyer,” Beck said. “The competition is on the leading edge of current maritime issues. It’s a great experience to be part of something with such a rich history and current application.”

Tulane Law | Maritime law

Tulane’s maritime moot court teams visit Charleston’s historic U.S. Custom House after arguing in the Judge John R. Brown Admiralty Moot Court Competition.

Student summer work reflections: Part two

In our second installment on summer jobs, 2L students share accounts of their work in environmental law, maritime law and college sports compliance.

Jae Sung Shrader (L ’16)

Jae Sung Shrader (L '15) | Tulane Law School

Jae Sung Shrader, pictured with Kevin Koskovich (both L ’16) at Tulane’s Summit on Environmental Law & Policy, worked on the largest environmental settlement in history at the EPA.

Environmental settlement clean-up:
Jae Sung Shrader interned with the Environmental Protection Agency’s Region 4 office in Atlanta, tackling issues involved in the largest settlement in environmental law history: a $5.15 billion agreement between the EPA and Anadarko Petroleum Corporation originally related to fraudulent asset conveyance claims.

The parties announced the settlement in April, and the EPA created a multistate environmental response trust to manage the funds, Shrader said. After creating the trust, the EPA evaluated how its policies, including the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act and Superfund, were implicated in the settlement.

“This is where my science background came in handy,” Shrader said. “Having already taken environmental sciences, organic chemistry, geology and other courses, being able to identify issues on the fly during conferences with the Department of Justice, various attorneys and consulting scientists was invaluable. When briefs and memoranda needed to be edited, it was easy for me to go through them without tripping on the scientific jargon.”

“After the large litigation was done, the next stage was to figure out the exact percentages that were going to sites around the nation from the trust,” she said. “We focused on the sites in our region, which manages the Southeast – Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky and the Carolinas.”

As a legal intern, Shrader worked closely with EPA officials on the settlement administration. “My mentor always tried to include me when he could: Editing DOJ documents, getting my opinion on certain outcomes, bringing me to every meeting with different attorneys and scientists, listening to my questions and incorporating my suggestions into his work,” Shrader said. “It was such a good experience to be in the middle of the process and helping when I could.”

Environmental issues are Shrader’s longtime passion, she said. Before law school, she chaired the Energy and Conservation Organization at the University of Miami, where she managed a $100,000 budget to reduce the university’s carbon footprint. She earned a dual degree from Miami in biological sciences and environmental law and policy.

Shrader spent the second half of her summer working in the Tulane Environmental Law Clinic, focusing on clean air issues. During the school year, she is actively involved in planning the Energy and Environmental Law Summit.

Jeffrey Notarianni (L ’16)

Jeffrey Notarianni (L '15) | Tulane Law School

Jeffrey Notarianni (L ’15, third row, third from left) participated in Tulane’s study abroad program in Rhodes, Greece before interning with the Rhodes Academy of Oceans Law and Policy.

Navigating the law of the sea: Jeffrey Notarianni completed an externship coordinating the Rhodes Academy of Oceans Law and Policy, an international maritime course for attorneys and scholars.

“I had an incredibly interesting summer externship in Greece. While there, I met diplomats, international judges and very high-powered people from around the world,” said Notarianni, who helped prepare and run the three-week program.

“The participants were either attorneys (JDs, or their country’s equivalent) or academics (PhDs), and about 70 percent of them were Permanent Mission to the U.N. or Ministry of Foreign Affairs for their country,” he said. “I’d visit with all of these powerful people, casually drinking coffee with them over breakfast in the morning or having dinner with them at night.”

Notarianni also got to observe a meeting between the Prime Minister of Greece and President of China in his office courtyard and watch the World Cup with Academy students who collectively rooted for all 32 teams.

“Another great thing about working for the Rhodes Academy was that the courses focused on cases that were being litigated in real time,” Notarianni said. “One attorney lectured on maritime delimitation, and he also happened to be the head attorney in the delimitation litigation between Bangladesh and India. Around the time of his lecture, the U.N. arbitration tribunal issued its ruling in his side’s favor. It was great to see him win the case while he was lecturing on the same subject.”

Before the externship, Notarianni took classes in Tulane’s Rhodes summer study abroad program. He learned about the Rhodes Academy opportunity through Professor Günther Handl, who organized two law student positions there this year.

Notarianni, who is working toward a maritime law certificate, said he aimed to practice in that field long before starting at Tulane. During one summer, he crewed a tall ship from Erie, Pennsylvania, and he has been interested in the industry since.

Ben Trachman (L ‘16)

Ben Trachman (L '15) | Tulane Law School

Ben Trachman (L ’15) studies in the law school courtyard after finishing a shift working in Tulane’s athletics compliance office.

Playing the college sports field:
Ben Trachman, a Tulane sports law student, completed an externship with
the NCAA’s enforcement team in Indianapolis, helping to make sure regional college teams complied with regulations.

“As an extern, I received and reviewed self-reported NCAA bylaw violations of institutions and conferences,” Trachman said. “I had an opportunity to use the legislative database (LSDBi) to ensure correct bylaw citation and that proper penalties were imposed by the institution. I also corresponded with institutional contacts regarding the NCAA’s stance on reported secondary violations.”

Trachman also helped police scouting and recruiting of high school athletes. “During my time with the NCAA, I was able to attend various basketball certification events throughout Indiana and ensure that there were no recruiting violations by college coaches of top high school prospects,” he said.

Trachman found the job online through Tulane’s Career Resources Interactive System. He learned more about the position through other Tulane alumni who have worked with NCAA, including Renee Gomila (L ‘00), an associate director of enforcement.

Trachman, a University of Michigan graduate, said he chose Tulane for the sports law program. He’s working toward a sports law certificate, is a junior member of The Sports Lawyers Journal and has worked in Tulane’s athletics compliance office the past two years.