H. Allen Black

Allen Black is a partner in Winston & Strawn’s Washington, D.C. office with strong experience handling the full range of maritime matters, including regulatory issues, cargo and shipping issues, vessel financing and documentation, maritime litigation and arbitration, maritime commercial transactions, marine construction and product liability issues, and general maritime counseling.

Mr. Black has handled a number of maritime litigation matters, including marine casualties, product liability, maritime lien cases, and criminal maritime environmental matters. He has helped establish a number of key precedents in maritime law concerning the scope of maritime attachments, the availability of punitive damages in admiralty, and the jurisdictional reach of admiralty limitation of liability actions. Mr. Black practices before the Federal Maritime Commission, representing clients in complaint proceedings, investigations, and licensing matters. He represents vessel owners, operators, and charterers in maritime arbitration matters. Mr. Black assists clients to avoid litigation by conducting shipboard internal investigations and providing timely, practical advice to shipowners and shippers, and by assisting clients with organizational and contracting matters.

Mr. Black assists shipowners and lenders in structuring vessel financing transactions to ensure compliance with U.S. shipping and vessel documentation laws and assists in connection with maritime-related bankruptcy matters. He counsels clients in navigating U.S. and international requirements pertaining to vessel construction, certification, and operations. In addition, he assists clients in designing and implementing international freight transportation agreements and related transactions.

Mr. Black served as a seagoing officer, and later as an attorney, in the U.S. Coast Guard, retiring at the rank of Commander in 1996. As a Coast Guard attorney, he handled a number of felony-level trials and advised Coast Guard commanders, before being selected to train and ultimately manage the Coast Guard’s legal workforce. In addition, he developed, coordinated, and presented international law seminars to top-level military and civilian officials in a number of emerging democracies in support of Department of Defense initiatives. Following retirement from the Coast Guard, Mr. Black worked as a maritime and litigation attorney in Baltimore before joining Winston & Strawn in 1999.

Mr. Black received a B.S. from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in 1979 and a J.D. from the Marshall-Wythe School of Law, College of William and Mary in 1991, where he was named to the Order of the Coif and was a teaching assistant and a member of the William and Mary Law Review.

Honors & Awards

Mr. Black was selected as the 2013 Lawyer of the Year for Admiralty & Maritime Law by Best Lawyers. Mr. Black has also been recognized as a leading admiralty and maritime lawyer by The Best Lawyers in America since 2012 and ranked in Chambers USA since 2011 as one of the nation’s top lawyers in transportation litigation practice.

Winston & Strawn's admiralty and maritime group was recognized by U.S. News & World Report  Best Lawyers “Law Firm of the Year” in Admiralty & Maritime Law for 2011-2012.


Mr. Black is an adjunct professor of Admiralty Law at the University of Baltimore and previously served as an adjunct instructor for the Defense Institute for International Legal Studies (1993-1999). He is a member of the Maritime Law Association of the United States and currently serves as the chairman of its Subcommittee on Piracy and Secretary of the Regulation of Vessel Operations Committee. He is a past president of the Marine Trades Association of Maryland. Mr. Black is active in his community as a youth lacrosse coach and an adviser to the First Presbyterian Church of Annapolis and the World Artist Experience. He is an active sailor and a licensed merchant mariner (Master, 100 tons, power and sail).

Publications & Speaking Engagements

Mr. Black is a frequent author and speaker on maritime issues and on the legal issues associated with terminals, piracy, and maritime environmental compliance.


  • Virginia
  • Maryland
  • District of Columbia


  • William & Mary, JD, 1991
  • U.S. Coast Guard Academy, BS, 1979