Two alumni elected to board of Southeastern Admiralty Law Institute

Picture of Colleen JacobyCharleston School of Law graduates Colleen E. Jacoby (‘19 ) and Albert “AJ” Bilbrey, Jr. (’18) were elected to the Southeastern Admiralty Law Institute (SEALI) board of directors for 2021. They will represent the Charleston area.

Since graduating, both have been practicing maritime law in the Charleston area. Jacoby with law firm Tecklenburg & Jenkins LLC, and Bilbrey as partner of Cooper & Bilbrey PC.

As Tecklenburg & Jenkins notes on its website, admiralty law governs maritime disputes and offenses that are governed by a combination of domestic and international law, a complex system that must be navigated by those conducting business via the sea.

Bilbrey says his firm works on a variety of sea-related cases including sailor injuries, wrongful deaths, and vessel arrests. “We handle pretty much everything maritime,” he says.

picture of AJ BilbreyBoth Jacoby and Bilbrey credit CSOL with providing them a solid foundation in marine law.

“I took almost every maritime class offered while I was in school,” says Jacoby. “Including all of the one-credit weekend seminars.”

Jacoby says she was interested in pursuing maritime law, so she researched schools that offered a substantial catalog of courses in the subject. “I knew once I visited, Charleston would be a great place to study law, make connections, and eventually practice law,” she says.

Bilbrey chose Charleston more for the location than the maritime law focus. He originally planned for a career as a criminal defense attorney, but his background as a Coast Guardsman naturally led him to admiralty law.

“I enforced maritime law but didn’t realize there were maritime lawyers until I saw the law school had admiralty law courses,” he says. “I saw a course and said I’m definitely taking that, and then I looked forward to going to that class the most.”

Jacoby says maritime law allowed her to follow the Mark Twain maxim of find a job you enjoy and you’ll never work a day in your life. “Maritime law has allowed me to do just that,” she says. “It provides me with the challenge I crave, as no two cases are the same, while also allowing me to study something that I genuinely find interesting.”

Through SEALI, the two are active in both the local and Southeastern maritime law community. The organization hosts an annual seminar and links members from 11 states in addition to associate members who are engaged in maritime-related activities. On a local level, SEALI hosts happy hours and networking events for both lawyers and students.

“Connections I made during law school through SEALI played a key role in getting interviews and a job after graduation,” says Jacoby.

Bilbrey says he has regularly worked with Jacoby since graduation. “The maritime law community in Charleston is a tight-knit group of people and everyone knows each other in the maritime world,” he says. “I really enjoy working with all these attorneys, even when they’re on the other side.”

For more information on SEALI, visit https://www.seali.com.

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