October 31, 2005

Leading Maritime Attorney and Industry Executive Robert Cowen Joins Venable’s Legislative and Regulatory/Transportation Practices

4 min

NEW YORK/WASHINGTON, D.C. (October 31, 2005) – Robert N. Cowen, a maritime industry insider who has spent the last 26 years as an in-house counsel, senior officer and corporate director with Overseas Shipholding Group, Inc. (NYSE: OSG), has joined Venable LLP as a partner.  He will be resident in the firm’s New York office and will also work out of Venable’s office in Washington, D.C., where he will conduct an active corporate, government relations and regulatory practice, with a likely concentration on maritime-related clients.

Mr. Cowen had been at OSG since 1979, becoming general counsel in 1989.  In recent years, he assumed broad corporate responsibilities at the company, whose $3.5 billion in assets and 100-tanker fleet make it one of the world’s largest oil shipping concerns.  He was made an OSG director in 1993 and in 1999 was given added responsibility as chief operating officer, making him a key participant in all of the company’s strategic, commercial and operating decisions while continuing to oversee legal functions as well as investor relations. 

In moving to private practice at Venable, Mr. Cowen expects to represent both public and private companies on a range of issues, from tax to environmental, regulatory, legislative, antitrust and other areas.  He brings his considerable experience in maritime law and business, tax and corporate law, as well as his years as a Washington representative on vital issues relating to the maritime industry. He also adds the perspective of a high-ranking industry executive and director of a public company.

“Bob Cowen is that rare lawyer who truly understands the needs of the corporate client because he has stood in the client’s shoes,” said James L. Shea, Venable’s managing partner. “His many years with OSG enable him to look at a maritime client’s problems broadly, from the perspective of regulatory, tax, SEC, environmental, and other critical areas.  And he can do so without losing sight of the client’s business objective.”

“Bob also represented OSG’s interests superbly in Washington,” continued Mr. Shea.  “His government relations efforts were a key factor in the passage of the tax deferral aspects relating to the maritime industry that became part of the Jobs Creation of Act of 2004.  Quite simply, he commands the respect of a broad swath of the global transportation sector.”

Mr. Cowen’s unique combination of skills and shipping industry experience adds to Venable’s growing prominence in transportation affairs, as well as the firm’s legislative and government affairs practices.  Shipping issues are also of obvious importance to the firm’s homeland security practice, which has increasingly come to focus on port security.

Venable counts a number of senior attorneys with deep knowledge of transportation issues among its ranks, including former Deputy Homeland Security Secretary Asa Hutchinson; former U.S. Secretary of Transportation James H. Burnley IV; and David G. Dickman, a former senior legal officer in the U.S. Coast Guard with a background in the enforcement of international and U.S. laws affecting the maritime industry.  Michael G. Roberts, another prominent maritime lawyer and Washington representative, joined Venable earlier this year along with associate Ashley W. Craig.  Another recent hire is Richard Y. Hegg, a Legislative Advisor with significant experience with the maritime industry.  The firm’s environmental practice, led by Judson W. Starr, a former head of the Justice Department’s Environmental Crimes Section, also works closely with the shipping industry.

“I enjoyed a long and multi-faceted career at OSG as a senior executive and director of one of the world’s great transportation companies,” said Mr. Cowen.  “Now I’m ready for a new challenge helping businesses both inside and outside the shipping industry navigate the kinds of broad legal and operating issues we faced every day at OSG.  The opportunity at Venable is very exciting.”

“The firm’s transportation and legislative practices are among the country’s leading practices in those areas,” Mr. Cowen added.  “I am honored to be working alongside these attorneys, a number of whom I’ve had the pleasure of knowing previously at OSG. I hope to make my mark on the firm by building a first-class maritime practice here.”

While at OSG, Mr. Cowen oversaw the following business and legal tasks:

  • Full responsibility for legal matters, including corporate, commercial, SEC, antitrust and employment
  • Key participant in all strategic business and commercial decision making
  • Directed investor relations and economics departments, acting as the company’s public spokesman and making investor presentations relating to the company and the tanker industry
  • Responsible for Washington legislative initiatives, including those related to tax and U.S. flag issues
  • Appeared before House/Senate Committees to testify on tax and safety issues affecting the tanker industry

Mr. Cowen earned both his undergraduate (in 1969) and his J.D. degree (in 1972) from Cornell University. He obtained an L.L.M. degree (Taxation) from New York University in 1979.

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 www.Venable.com.