November 9, 2004

Prominent Maritime Attorney Michael Roberts Joins Venable’s Legislative Practice in Washington

4 min

WASHINGTON, DC (November 8, 2004) – In a move that enhances both its legislative and transportation practices, Venable LLP has brought Michael G. Roberts onboard as a partner in the firm’s Washington office.

Mr. Roberts, 48, has spent the past four years in the D.C. office of St. Louis-based Thompson Coburn LLP, representing a wide array of transportation interests. Among his longtime clients is Crowley Maritime Corp., the United States’ leading shipping company, where he served as corporate counsel and then Vice President of government relations from 1991 until early 2000.

During his tenure as counsel for Crowley Maritime’s liner division, he advised on domestic and foreign regulatory issues, negotiated contracts, and managed domestic and foreign litigation. In private practice, he has actively worked on the legislative and government relations fronts, counseled on trade sanctions, export controls and competition regulation, and managed litigation before administrative agencies and in the courts.

“Transportation issues are of vital importance not only for the shipping industry but for all businesses in this post-9/11 world,” said Venable partner James Burnley, who served as U.S. Secretary of Transportation under the Reagan administration. “Michael’s experience and longstanding relationships with leading transportation companies and throughout Washington will be a tremendous advantage to our clients.”

With over 20 years representing transportation interests before the U.S. Congress and federal government, Mr. Roberts is a prominent presence on Capitol Hill. He has scored numerous victories on behalf of his clients, and is well-known as an outspoken advocate for the maritime industry.

As Crowley Maritime’s Washington representative, he played a pivotal role in helping pass the 1996 Maritime Security Act as well as the Coast Guard Authorization Act and the 1998 Ocean Shipping Reform Act. He has managed the company’s political activities for 10 years, and is responsible for obtaining on Crowley’s behalf the first licenses for commercial shipping from the United States to Cuba.

More recently, Mr. Roberts led an important legislative initiative that successfully closed a loophole in U.S. maritime laws. He also helped to secure renewal of the Maritime Security Act, and to obtain critically important tax relief for the American maritime industry.

“The 108th Congress has been one of the best in decades for the maritime industry, but the industry had a lot of ground to make up,” Mr. Roberts said. “Working with the outstanding professionals at Venable enhances our clients’ prospects of building on those successes in the next Congress.” Mr. Roberts noted that homeland security, tax, and efforts to expand coastwise shipping are among the many transportation issues that will be considered next year.

Moving with Mr. Roberts to Venable is Ashley W. Craig, an experienced and highly regarded attorney in transportation regulatory and legislative matters involving international trade and homeland security. They join a distinguished group of transportation attorneys at Venable that includes John Milliken, a former secretary of transportation for the Commonwealth of Virginia, and David Dickman, who spent 24 years with the U.S. Coast Guard, in addition to Mr. Burnley.

“Venable provides a terrific opportunity to grow and diversify our current practice both within and beyond the transportation industry,” Mr. Roberts said. “The firm’s legislative group is well-developed and has achieved bipartisan success that is hard to match. I am delighted be joining it.”

Mr. Roberts has broad affiliation with leading transport trade groups. He is a Life member of the National Defense Transportation Association, the Propeller Club, the Maritime Administrative Bar Association (where he served as president from 1999 to 2000), and the Navy League.

Prior to joining Crowley Maritime, he worked in Washington, D.C. law firms, representing maritime and aviation clients on a host of legal and regulatory issues and government contract disputes. He clerked at the D.C. Superior Court in 1983.

Mr. Roberts received his J.D., cum laude, from American University’s Washington College of Law (1982), where he currently serves as an Adjunct Professor of Business Law, and his B.A. degree, with high honors, from Michigan State University (1977). He is admitted to the District of Columbia and Florida bars.

Mr. Craig received his J.D. from The Catholic University of America’s Columbus School of Law (2000) and his B.A. from American University (1992). He is admitted to the District of Columbia and Maryland bars.

Venable’s legislative practice is one of the largest in Washington with 22 seasoned professionals, including former members of Congress, senior congressional staff and presidential appointees. The firm provides strategic public policy advice and counsel to clients on federal, state and foreign government initiatives impacting their businesses. Venable provides advocacy before the U.S. Congress and federal and state governments.

One of the American Lawyer’s top 100 law firms, Venable LLP has attorneys practicing in all areas of corporate and business law, complex litigation, intellectual property and government affairs. Venable serves corporate, institutional, governmental, nonprofit and individual clients throughout the U.S. and around the world from its headquarters in Washington, D.C. and offices in California, Maryland, New York and Virginia. For more, visit