History

The Tulane Maritime Law Journal was founded in 1973 in conjunction with the student-run Tulane Maritime Law Society. The first issue of the Journal was released in March of 1975 as The Maritime Lawyer. The next few years were formative and interesting times for the Journal, a history that is retraced in the 20th Anniversary issue (Volume 20:1) and reprinted below. In the fall of 1977, the Journal established its independence from the Tulane Maritime Law Society. Since that fall, the Journal has been published every winter and summer. Starting with Volume 12, in 1987, the publication changed its name from The Maritime Lawyer to the Tulane Maritime Law Journal. The name change better reflects the Journal’s status as a student-edited law journal.

The Journal has a wide and diverse circulation of subscribers in all fifty U.S. States and nearly fifty foreign countries, comprised of private admiralty law firms, marine insurance companies, shipping lines, federal agencies, law school libraries, federal judges, and the United States Supreme Court.

THE BIRTH OF A JOURNAL
ROBERT B. ACOMB, JR. *

Just as a coffee house meeting in London was an appropriate beginning for Lloyd’s of London, a French Quarter luncheon meeting was an appropriate beginning for a New Orleans-based law review. There Ben Yancey, Arthur Crais, Jr., and I met to discuss the Tulane Maritime Law Society’s idea of publishing a law journal devoted exclusively to maritime law. The students felt that such a publication would further their studies. We all recognized that there were many obstacles to overcome if such a publication were to be launched.

After extensive preparation, the first issue of The Maritime Lawyer emerged in March of 1975. Catherine Hall was the Editor in Chief. Winston Day (now dean at the Louisiana State University Law Center), Wayne Woody (who went on to serve as dean of Hastings Law School), and I were the Faculty Advisors. Robert Fisher, Jr., chaired the Board of Alumni Editors, and I chaired the board of Advisory Editors.

The first issue contained articles by Robert Fisher, Jr., Eldon Fallon (who was recently appointed United States District Judge), Arthur Crais, Jr., Janice Gonzales Barry, and Bruce Duvieilh and a book review by James Hanemann, Jr. Despite the dedicated work of all of the editors, the maiden issue lacked both a student-written section and the funds necessary to publish it as a first-rate law review.

The Maritime Law Society was the original funding agent for the publication, and its funds were derived from dues and annual legal seminars held at the Law School. In 1978, The Maritime Lawyer, with its subscriptions up and some money in the bank, attempted to put on a seminar with the Tulane Maritime Law Society. The seminar, entitled “Complex Litigation Symposium,” featured prominent attorneys from New Orleans and elsewhere as panelists. Tulane President Sheldon Hackney’s wife, Lucy Durr Hackney, who was a law school senior at the time, even hosted a dinner at the President’s home. The event was a success in all respects except for one: the seminar was financially disastrous. The resulting lack of funds brought the publication schedule to a grinding halt. The incoming Editorial Boards had to work extra hard merely to maintain the publication and its subscribers.

Every year, the Student Editorial Board would meet with the Board of Advisory Editors. At these meetings, the students would discuss what they needed to improve the publication. Sometimes the students asked for mundane things, such as a typewriter or paper supplies. Other times, the students requested substantial help, such as office space or a part-time worker to help with administrative tasks. Often, the Advisory Editors would use their firms’ resources to solve these problems and improve the quality of the publication.

After several years, the Student Editors decided to throw an annual banquet. The banquet has been very successful. A large group of distinguished speakers, including federal judges and presidents of the Maritime Law Association, have toasted the success of the Journal.

In 1983, when the Law School commenced a drive for the funding of the Maritime Law Center, the sons of Niels F. Johnsen established a Maritime Law chair at the school. A substantial gift was made to the Center by the Admiralty Law Institute; a number of New Orleans firms also contributed to the Center. Professor Robert Force, the Niels F. Johnsen Chair and Director of the Center, has been unfailing in his support of the publication, anchoring its position among legal publications.

Equally deserving of recognition, Dean John Kramer provided funding, office space, and a Manager of Operations for the publication. Also under Dean Kramer’s administration, Tulane allowed the publication to change its name from The Maritime Lawyer to the Tulane Maritime Law Journal. The editorial note that was included in Volume 12 reflects the significance of this step:

The new name, Tulane Maritime Law Journal, is intended to reflect our status as a student-edited law journal of Tulane University School of Law. The new name does not represent a change in editorial direction.

For my part, I can only say that it has been a wonderful experience to assist the Student Editors in realizing their dream of publishing a maritime law journal and achieving such success.

*Robert B. Acomb, Jr., Partner, Jones, Walker, Waechter, Poitevent, Carrère & Dènègre, New Orleans, Louisiana; Adjunct Professor of Law, Tulane University School of Law; Chairman, Tulane University Law School Dean’s Council; Chairman, Tulane Maritime Law Center; Chairman (since 1972), Board of Advisory Editors, Tulane Maritime Law Journal; President, 1989-90, Tulane Alumni Association; Chairman, 1992-93, Association of Average Adjusters of the United States; B.B.A. 1951, Tulane University, LL.B. 1953, Tulane University School of Law.

Robert B. Acomb, Jr., The Birth of a Journal, 20 Tul. Mar. L.J. i (1995).

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