Reed Smith has brought on board two maritime lawyers from Troutman Sanders in Washington. The move marks the first time Reed Smith has expanded its shipping practice into its U.S. offices.
C. Jonathan Benner, who previously headed Troutman Sanders’ transportation practice in Washington, joined Reed Smith as a partner on Oct. 1. Matthew Thomas, who also joined as a partner, started work at the firm on Oct. 9.
Benner and Thomas said they opted to join Reed Smith to take advantage of its international footprint. Reed Smith acquired its shipping practice through its 2007 merger with Richards Butler U.K. and the 2008 addition of Richards Butler Hong Kong. Reed Smith has been a dominant player in the shipping industry with its London, Paris and Piraeus, Greece, offices, but has not previously had a presence in the United States.
Benner and Thomas focus on domestic and international maritime and trade regulation issues. They represent ship owners and managers; container, tanker and cruise line operators; maritime trade associations; international marine insurance groups; investment entities; and U.S. ports and marine terminals.
“Maritime shipping law is not well understood by policy makers and legislators in the U.S. The only time it gets any attention is when something goes wrong, like a vessel casualty,” Benner said. “But it touches on a lot of different issues such as environmental matters and regulatory concerns.”
Thomas added, “The international nature of Reed Smith is going to be a real benefit for us because often clients come to us to deal with issues that are literally moving across borders.”
Prior to entering the private sector, Benner was a trial attorney, appellate attorney, and general counsel (1981-1984) for the Federal Maritime Commission. He left the commission in 1984 to found Benner, Burnett & Coleman, which had offices in Washington and San Francisco. He later served as the Washington managing partner for Haight, Gardner, Poor & Havens after that firm acquired Benner Burnett. Before joining Troutman Sanders in 2001, Benner was a partner at Eckert Seamans Cherin & Mellott.
Thomas is also a former FMC lawyer and rose to serve as assistant general counsel for international affairs. After leaving the FMC, he joined Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi as a senior associate before joining Troutman Sanders in 2004.