Larry Kiern is a partner in Winston & Strawn’s Washington, D.C. office who concentrates his practice in litigation, arbitration, maritime, environmental, legislative, and regulatory matters. Mr. Kiern’s practice group has been consistently ranked at the top of the profession by Chambers USA, which wrote “The team . . . receives particular praise from clients for its “intelligent and sophisticated approach, which considers the whole landscape and displays great foresight,” leading to “efficient, clear and well thought-through recommendations.” In 2011, the practice group received the first U.S. News Best Lawyers "Law Firm of the Year" recognition in admiralty and maritime law.
He represents shipowners, charterers, shippers, ports authorities, terminal operators, pollution underwriters, and P&I Clubs on diverse legislative matters on Capitol Hill; regulatory, and litigation matters involving the Coast Guard, the EPA, the Department of Justice, the Department of Transportation, and the Federal Maritime Commission; and complex litigation matters both in arbitrations and the federal courts.
Mr. Kiern has achieved notable successes for his clients. Most recently, he conceived and crafted the winning arguments for Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Company in the multi-billion dollar Hurricane Katrina litigation before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana. He successfully defended Maher Terminals against a $50 million action brought by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey before the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC). He prevailed for the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in a precedent-setting appeal establishing that the Commonwealth enjoys Eleventh Amendment sovereign immunity. In another landmark decision before the same Court of Appeals, he represented the Puerto Rico Ports Authority in its successful challenge to the FMC establishing that the Authority is an “arm of the state” for purposes of Eleventh Amendment sovereign immunity. That success defeated multiple lawsuits totaling more than $120 million in alleged damages. He also successfully represented Hornbeck Transportation and the Water Quality Insurance Syndicate in judicial challenges to arbitrary and capricious decisions of the U.S. Coast Guard that threatened the companies with multi-million dollar losses.
His representative clients also include ConocoPhillips, PPG Industries, Torm, and P&I insurers, the Swedish Club, and the American Club.
Prior to joining the firm, Mr. Kiern served as a captain in the U.S. Coast Guard and deputy chief of the Coast Guard’s congressional staff where he supervised the Coast Guard’s Capitol Hill operations. He also served as the Coast Guard’s legislative counsel from 1994-1996.
Mr. Kiern also served as chief of the Operational Law Branch of the National Pollution Funds Center, which administers the $2.7 billion Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund. He has extensive experience investigating and litigating major marine casualties. He has represented clients in major maritime environmental criminal investigations. Mr. Kiern’s previous experience also includes serving as a trial attorney for the admiralty office of the U.S. Department of Justice, litigating throughout the Ninth Circuit, and serving as lead agency counsel for the Coast Guard on marine safety, regulatory matters, and criminal prosecutions in the Pacific Northwest.
Honors and Awards
Mr. Kiern has been recognized as a leading lawyer in the field of Transportation: Shipping Regulatory by Chambers USA 2013. Mr. Kiern also received the 2012 Burton Award for Distinguished Legal Writing for his law review article on the second decade of the Oil Pollution Act of 1990. The Burton Award, presented in association with the Library of Congress, honors the top 35 legal writers from the nation's largest 1000 law firms.
Winston & Strawn's admiralty and maritime group has been recognized by U.S. News and World Reports - Best Lawyers “Law Firm of the Year” in Admiralty & Maritime Law for 2011-2012.
Mr. Kiern is vice-chairman of the Vessel Regulations Committee and past vice chairman of the Marine Ecology Committee of the Maritime Law Association, and also is a member of its Marine Ecology and Environmental Crimes Committee. In addition, he serves on the Law Review Committee of the American Association of Port Authorities and is a board member at The Center for National Policy in Washington, D.C.
Mr. Kiern received a B.S. in Government, cum laude, from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in 1974. He received an M.A. in Liberal Studies from Wesleyan University in 1979 and a Ph.D. in American Political History from the University of Connecticut in 1996. Mr. Kiern received a J.D., with honors, from the University of Michigan Law School in 1985.
Speeches and Publications
Mr. Kiern is a regular featured contributor to the Maritime Executive for which he writes the “Washington Insider” column. He is also the author of many articles on maritime and admiralty topics, including: “Liability, Compensation, and Financial Responsibility Under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990: A Review of the Second Decade,” Tulane Maritime Law Journal, Winter 2011; 2009-2010 U.S. Maritime Legislative Developments," Journal of Maritime Law and Commerce, July 2011; “Oil Pollution Act: Legislative Changes, Amendments Set Agenda for New Congress,” BNA’s Daily Environment Report, Jan. 7, 2011; “OPA 90 Complexities and Recent Legislative Developments,” presented at the 19th Annual Admiralty and Maritime Law Institute, Nov. 10, 2010, Houston, Texas; “Decommissioning of Oil and Gas Facilities in Gulf of Mexico Faces Hurdles,” co-author, BNA’s Daily Environment Report, Nov. 1, 2010; “Offshore Wind Energy: Navigating the rocks and shoals of Environmental Review,” Marine Log, June 2010; “2007-2008 U.S. Maritime Legislative Developments,” Journal of Maritime Law and Commerce, July 2009; “Exon-Florio Amendment Now U.S. Law,” The Deal, September 2007; “2005-2006 U.S. Maritime Legislative Developments,” Journal of Maritime Law and Commerce, July 2007; “2003-2004 U.S. Maritime Legislative Developments,” Journal of Maritime Law and Commerce, July 2005; “2001-2002 U.S. Maritime Legislative Developments,” Journal of Maritime Law and Commerce, July 2003; “1999-2000 U.S. Maritime Legislative Developments,” Journal of Maritime Law and Commerce, July 2001; “Liability, Compensation, and Financial Responsibility Under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990: A Review of the First Decade,” Tulane Maritime Law Journal, Spring 2000; “1997-98 U.S. Maritime Legislative Developments,” Journal of Maritime Law and Commerce, July 1999; “Damages in Maritime Cases: Environmental Damages Under Federal Law,” Tulane Law Review, December 1997; and “The Oil Pollution Act of 1990,” Journal of Maritime Law and Commerce, October 1994.
He addresses conferences on topics including: "Contrasting Visions for the Future: What will the 2012 Presidential and Congressional Elections mean for America's Maritime Industry?," Houston Maritime Association, September 2012; "Environmental Crimes - Prosecutions Continue Unabated," Marine Log Global Greenship 2012 Conference, September 2012; “OPA 90 Complexities and Recent legislative Developments,” 19th Annual Admiralty and Maritime Law Institute, Nov. 10, 2010; “Climate change regulation, legislation and its impact on shipping – a Washington, D.C. perspective,” Marine Log Global Greenship 2010 Conference; “Offshore Wind: The environmental review, licensing, and regulatory process,” Marine Log Offshore Alternatives 2010 Conference; “What new regulations may emerge under the Clean Water Act,” Marine Log Global Greenship 2009 Conference; “Minor spill, major impact: Lessons learned from the COSCO Busan incident,” Marine Log Global Greenship 2008 Conference; “Short Sea Shipping,” The Journal of Commerce 2008 North America’s Marine Highways Conference; “MARPOL Compliance – The New Reality,” Marine Log Global Greenship 2006 Conference.