David’s maritime law practice focuses on risk management in the marine service market. David negotiates and litigates contracts for both vessel owners and charterers. He also teaches Towage & Offshore Services at Tulane Law School.

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David B. Sharpe

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From our New Orleans office, David focuses on marine insurance coverage; marine finance and vessel documentation; bankruptcy, restructuring, and creditors’ rights; admiralty and maritime; and international and cross-border law. He represents clients that own, operate, charter, or employ vessels, and helps them understand and manage their risks in the United States, Gulf of Mexico, and worldwide offshore maritime oilfield and alternative-energy markets.

Originally from Bethesda, Maryland, David attended Tulane University in New Orleans, graduating in 1985 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering. After graduation, David worked for several years at Motorola Communications in Houston, Texas, where as a systems engineer, he helped design and implement radio systems for commercial and public safety customers in the U.S. Gulf Coast region and offshore energy markets.

In 1987, David began his law studies at George Washington University’s National Law Center in Washington, D.C. In 1990, David graduated with honors with a Juris Doctor and returned to New Orleans, where he has practiced admiralty and maritime law ever since.

David’s law practice concentrates on maritime contracts (time and bareboat charter parties, master service contracts, insurance and indemnity agreements, marine-insurance coverage, and ship sale and finance) and related commercial litigation (maritime liens, vessel arrest and attachment, and mortgage foreclosure).

David also remains involved with academia and teaches a course on towage and offshore service law at Tulane Law School, where he is an adjunct professor of law. David is a co-editor of the current West Publishing casebook, “Cases & Materials on Admiralty” (Healy, Sharpe, Sharpe & Winship – 5th Ed. 2012) and the Handbook of Maritime Laws & Forms (West 2007). David has published numerous articles, and he travels worldwide to speak and teach on issues such as offshore supply vessel contracts, vessel-construction contracts, and indemnity agreements.


  • Best Lawyers (2018, 2019)
  • Super Lawyers (2008-2019)
  • Chair of the Program Committee for the Tulane Admiralty Law Institute; served on Program or Planning Committees continuously since 2000
  • Named a Top Lawyer by New Orleans Magazine (2014)
  • 2005–2007: Board of Directors, New Orleans Bar Association (2005-2007)
  • Fleur de Lis Leader, New Orleans Bar Association (2006)
  • Proctor in Admiralty, Maritime Law Association of the United States (1996–Present)

Recent Appellate Success

Chenevert v. Travelers Indemnity Co., 746 F.3d 581 (5th Cir. 2014) (workers’ compensation carrier can assert a subrogation lien against tort recovery by injured maritime worker who received compensation under the LHWCA before asserting he was a seaman under the Jones Act)

Selected Publications

  • Stewart F. Peck and David B. Sharpe, "What is a Vessel?: Implications for Marine Finance, Marine Insurance, and Admiralty Jurisdiction," 89 Tul. L. Rev. 1103 (June 2015)
  • Sharpe, Sharpe & Winship, ADMIRALTY: CASES & MATERIALS (6th Ed. – scheduled for publication in 2016)
  • Healy, Sharpe, Sharpe & Winship, ADMIRALTY: CASES & MATERIALS (5th Ed. 2012)
  • Healy, Sharpe & Sharpe, ADMIRALTY: CASES & MATERIALS (4th Ed. 2006)
  • Healy, Sharpe & Sharpe, HANDBOOK OF MARITIME LAWS & FORMS (2007 Edition)
  • BENEDICT ON ADMIRALTY – Maritime Arrest (Berns, Sharpe & Sharpe - released 2004)

Business Accomplishments

  • Practicing attorney for more than 24 years, 19 in the offices of Lugenbuhl, Wheaton, Peck, Rankin & Hubbard
  • Martindale-Hubbell Bestowed AV Rated Attorney since 2001
  • Member of the Louisiana State Bar Association and New Orleans Bar Association
  • Co-editor of current West Publishing casebook, “Admiralty: Cases & Materials” (5th Edition, 2012), one of the oldest continuously used case books utilized by law students in the country
  • Published excerpts included in “Handbook of Maritime Laws and Forms (2007 Edition) used by law students and practitioners of admiralty and maritime law
  • Presenter at international law gatherings in countries including England, Norway, Singapore, and India, speaking on maritime and offshore energy law
  • Argued legal cases before the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, Louisiana state appellate courts, and state and federal district courts

Community Involvement

  • Currently serves as Adjunct Professor of Law at Tulane University Law School teaching Towage and Offshore Service Law since 1999
  • Currently serves as Annual Giving Campaign Co-Chair for St. Andrew’s Episcopal School
  • 2006 – 2009: Chairman of the School Board, St. Andrew’s Episcopal School
  • 2004 – 2006: Vice Chairman of the School Board, St. Andrew’s Episcopal School

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