UF Law grad has served A-list clientele and interests of science as a maritime lawyer
BY BRANDON BRESLOW (3LAS)
Michael T. Moore (JD 74) was a freshfaced graduate of the University of Florida Fredric G. Levin College of Law looking to stand out as he went in search of a job. Tax law didn’t interest him and criminal law made his stomach turn. When he looked toward the ocean, he found his passion: maritime law.
For more than 30 years, Moore has practiced as a maritime lawyer, “a lawyer of the sea.” He litigates and handles cases focusing on marine, aviation and art law.
“The choice was an early question of differentiating myself from other graduates and removing the subject matters that I did not like,” he said. “Maritime law interested me in law school, and I was given an opportunity to try it out.”
The opportunity came while serving tables at a restaurant in Cape Cod. Moore met a man who suggested that he apply as a law clerk at the maritime law firm of Burlingham, Underwood & Lord in New York. This allowed him to dive into the world of yacht owners, glamour and romance, Moore said.
Moore’s love for nature and passion for litigation reinforced the choice he made to enter maritime law. He has handled cases for Donald Trump and industrialist Faisal Al Matrook, who owns engineering and natural resource companies in the United Arab Emirates.
“Maritime law takes into account international and personal injury laws,” Moore said. “It’s warfare, which is why I think I love it so much.”
Moore owns his own 36-foot sailboat, Island Girl, and a wooden canoe given to him by his wife, Leslie Lott (JD 74).
“The canoe has allowed me to really get at water level with nature,” Moore said.
It wasn’t until 2004, after Moore moved to Miami and opened his own law firm, that he was introduced to a nonprofit organization known as The International SeaKeepers Society. The organization, comprised mainly of yacht owners, retrieves meteorological and oceanographic information through monitors attached to its members’ yachts.
The information is given to a panel of scientists, who act as advisers. Government and private entities use the data, which includes air temperatures, oxygen levels, pH levels, humidity and barometric pressure, for observation and research into issues such as global warming and pollution.
“The great thing about yacht owners is that they have nowhere to go and all day to get there,” Moore said. “Some of the members have even changed their courses for the sake of gathering information.”
Moore became chairman of the organization in 2008, bringing its membership from 100 members to 10,000 in just three years. But it was through a chance happening with a public relations consultant for YachtWorld, an online yacht dealer, that Moore put SeaKeepers on the map.
Moore had the opportunity to meet Jessica Muffet, founder of YachtWorld, who wanted to make SeaKeepers its first beneficiary. As beneficiary, SeaKeepers was given contributions and public relations tools to expand its work and corporate identity.
“Their website’s two million discrete hits a day translated into a higher profile for SeaKeepers,” Moore said. “It’s a very important alliance.”
As Moore continues to pull double duty as head of his law firm and chairman of SeaKeepers, he remains enamored with maritime law.
“It may be a story of being at the right place at the right time,” Moore said, “but, all things considered, I know this is the law I was meant to practice.”