Women in Maritime Spotlight: Jeanne Grasso
Blank Rome Partner Jeanne M. Grasso, who serves as co-chair of the Firm's Maritime and International Trade practice group, was recently featured in a social media spotlight published by The Nautical Institute's Women in Maritime initiative. Read the full spotlight below or on the Women in Maritime Facebook page.
Greetings. I’m Jeanne Grasso, a maritime lawyer with Blank Rome LLP in Washington, D.C. In retrospect, my path to the maritime industry started when I was a little kid who spent most summers at the New Jersey shore. This led to lifeguarding, teaching swimming lessons, studying aquatic and marine biology at the University of Notre Dame, doing a SEA Semester and sailing on a 110-foot schooner for six weeks, getting a Master’s in Marine Affairs, spending a summer as a biologist on a Japanese fishing vessel in Alaska’s Bering Sea, winning a Sea Grant Congressional Fellowship that took me to Washington, D.C. to work on Capitol Hill, and thereafter handling fisheries matters for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. After five years at NOAA, I decided to go to law school and joined a boutique maritime law firm, Dyer Ellis & Joseph, which merged with Blank Rome 10 years later. I’m now co-chair of our maritime group.
After 25 years of being a maritime lawyer, I’m still energized, challenged, and learning new things every day. My practice focuses on maritime, international, and environmental law for clients worldwide, including ship owners, operators, and managers; charterers; cargo owners; terminals; and other waterfront facilities. My practice involves regulatory compliance counseling related to the U.S. Coast Guard, Environmental Protection Agency, and other federal and state agencies, including providing advice regarding ballast water, air emissions, EPA’s Vessel General Permit, and international conventions such as MARPOL and SOLAS. I also spend a good deal of time handling internal and grand jury investigations; defense of administrative, civil, and criminal enforcement actions; and counseling on risk mitigation strategies related to pollution incidents around the world, including conducting training.
I also write and lecture on criminal enforcement of environmental laws and U.S. Coast Guard regulatory matters with a focus on keeping clients out of trouble and in compliance. My most valuable experiences are when I get to throw on a hardhat and go onboard vessels and into terminals – after 25 years, I still covet these opportunities.
One great outlet when working in a male-dominated field is finding other women in the industry, networking work them, learning from them, discussing challenges, and sharing stories. The Women’s International Shipping & Trading Association provides that outlet. I’ve been involved in WISTA for about 15 years now, having served as President of WISTA USA and on the WISTA International Executive Committee for 6 years. Not only do you get to share experiences, you also have the opportunity to do business together – while making lifelong friends around the world. Outside of the maritime industry, my passion is SCUBA diving – oftentimes with WISTA Sistas! I also love to golf, cycle, and hike – and am always looking for a new adventure.