Legal Program

The Rhode Island Sea Grant Legal Program is one of four Sea Grant Legal Programs in the nation, and the only one in New England. Housed at the Marine Affairs Institute at the Roger Williams University School of Law since 2003, the program is a national clearinghouse for marine law and policy. The program's mission is to educate and prepare exception marine law professionals and host expert marine law and policy practitioners by:

  • Offering rigorous and diverse maritime and marine law courses.
  • Providing full extracurricular opportunities to develop excellent research, writing and advocacy skills.
  • Convening local, regional, national and international experts in a neutral forum to address relevant maritime and marine law issues.
  • Leveraging unique institutional strengths and interdisciplinary approaches of our partners, Rhode Island Sea Grant, Roger Williams University School of Law, and the University of Rhode Island Department of Marine Affairs.

Sea Grant Law Fellows
The Program hires law students as Sea Grant Law Fellows to conduct legal research and analysis for government agencies, industry and non-profit organizations in need of assistance. Fellows work on timely legal issues such as fisheries management and costal access under staff supervision, honing their legal research and writing skills while acquiring hands-on application of their classroom knowledge. Constituents benefit from receiving balanced, neutral research while also providing students with real world experience. Examples of recent projects include research for The Nature Conservancy, Pacific Energy Ventures, URI Nonpoint Education for Municipal Officials, and the Quonset Development Corporation.

Marine Affairs Joint Degree Program
Students interested in more extensive study of marine law and policy may simultaneously earn a law degree from RWU and a Master of Marine Affairs degree from the University of Rhode Island (URI) in 3.5 years through sharing of selected credits. Joint degree students enhance their legal education with additional courses at URI on economic, international and policy considerations, positioning them well to address today's complex maritime, ocean and coastal legal issues.

The Institute sponsors speakers, symposia, and interdisciplinary training programs that provide law students and practitioners with opportunities to meet with other marine law professionals in both formal and informal settings to learn about recent developments in ocean and coastal law. Recent events addressed marine renewable energy, international cargo liability, ecosystem based management and fishery law.

Courses are taught by law professors as well as by expert practitioners, and include:

  • Admiralty Law
  • Marine Insurance
  • Administrative Law
  • Marine Pollution
  • Climate Change Law
  • Marine Salvage
  • Environmental Law
  • Maritime Security Law
  • Fisheries Law
  • Ocean and Coastal Law
  • Law of the Sea
  • Ocean Management and Policy

Law Fellows Video
The Marine Affiars Institute has produced a brief video highlighting program offerings, especially the Law Fellow program, and features several Fellows describing their experiences. View video.



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