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Semmes Attorney Profiles
James W. Bartlett III, Principal

James W. Bartlett III
Principal and Firm
Vice Chairman

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Baltimore Office
Suite 1400
25 S. Charles Street
Baltimore, MD 21201
410.539.5223 (Fax)

Semmes Practice Areas Experience

James W. Bartlett III is the Vice Chairman of the Firm and has been a litigator for over thirty years, with his areas of concentration being civil litigation, maritime law, products liability, construction litigation, professional (lawyers, architects and engineers) liability, premises liability, insurance coverage, commercial litigation, asbestos litigation, and appellate practice. He argued before the United States Supreme Court in 1995.

Mr. Bartlett was Secretary of The Maritime Law Association of the United States from 2004 to 2008. He served on its Board of Directors from 1998 to 2001 and was the Chair of its Committee on Practice and Procedure from 2000 to 2004. He is a past Chair of the Admiralty and Maritime Law Committee of the Section of Tort and Insurance Practice of the ABA, a past Chair of the Admiralty and Maritime Litigation Committee of the Section of Litigation of the ABA, and a member of the Federal District Court Liaison Committee of the Maryland State Bar Association. He also is a member of the Bar Association of Baltimore City.

Mr. Bartlett is a member of Maryland Defense Counsel and the Defense Research Institute and is a permanent member of the Judicial Conference of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. He is an Associate Editor of American Maritime Cases, a subscriber of the Association of Average Adjusters (United Kingdom), a resident associate of the Association of Average Adjusters of the United States, and a past President and Director of the Propeller Club of Baltimore. He serves on the Boards of Directors of the Baltimore Maritime Exchange and the Baltimore Propeller Club Charitable Trust. He is listed in Best Lawyers in America and Who's Who in America and was selected as a Maryland "Super Lawyer" by Baltimore Magazine and Maryland Super Lawyers Magazine in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012.

Mr. Bartlett achieved an A/V® rating from Martindale Hubbell®, the highest possible peer review rating for ethics and legal ability.



  • 1995, U.S. Supreme Court
  • 1992, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
  • 1992, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio
  • 1984, U.S. Court of Claims
  • 1976, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
  • 1975, U.S. District Court of Maryland
  • 1975, Maryland Court of Appeals


  • Washington & Lee University, (B.A., 1968)
  • Vanderbilt University (J.D., 1975)

Affiliations, Associations & Special Achievements

Bar Association/Organization Memberships

  • Board of Directors, Historical Society of the United States District Court for the District of Maryland, Inc.
  • Delegate of The Maritime Law Association to the ABA House of Delegates (2010-present)
  • Editorial Board of the Journal of Maritime Law and Commerce (2010-present)
  • American Bar Association
    • Section of Litigation
      • Chair, Admiralty and Maritime Litigation Committee (1997-1998)
    • Section of Tort and Insurance Practice
      • Chair, Admiralty and Maritime Law Committee (1989-1991)
  • Maryland State Bar Association
    • Section of Litigation, Federal District Court Committee
  • Bar Association of Baltimore City
  • Maritime Law Association of the United States, Proctor
    • Secretary (2004-2008)
    • Board of Directors (1998-2001)
    • Chair, Committee on Practice and Procedure (2000-2004)
  • Maryland Defense Counsel, Inc.
  • Defense Research Institute (DRI)
  • Fourth Circuit Judicial Conference, Permanent Member

Other Activities

  • American Maritime Cases
    • Associate Editor, 1997-present
  • Association of Average Adjusters (United Kingdom)
    • Subscriber
  • Propeller Club of Baltimore
    • President, 1989-90
    • Board of Directors, 1983-89, 1994-2003
    • Director, Propeller Club Charitable Trust, 2003-present
  • Baltimore Maritime Exchange
    • Director, 2001-present
  • Listed in Best Lawyers in America and Who’s Who in America


  • "Admiralty Practice and Procedure," Chapter III, 8 Benedict on Admiralty (7th Ed. 2002).

    • "Recreational Boats: The Evolution of Jurisdiction and Choice-of-Law Issues from the Constitution Through the Calhoun Decision," 75 Tulane Law Review 1247 (2001).

    • "Supreme Court Applies ‘the Proportionate Share Rule’ to Marine Settlements," Lloyd’s List (London) (May 13, 1994).

    • "Supreme Court Decision May Cause a Stir on London Market," Lloyd’s List (London) (April 15, 1994).

    • "When Is a Boat Not a Vessel? – Recreational Boats Navigate Through the Jurisdiction and Limitation Quagmire," Recreational Craft: Jurisdiction Claims, and Coverage I (ABA Tort and Insurance Practice Section 1990).

    • "In re Oil Spill by the AMOCO CADIZ – Choice of Law and a Pierced Corporate Veil Defeat the 1969 Civil Liability Convention," X The Maritime Lawyer I (1985).


  • 2001 Tulane Admiralty Law Institute
  • 1997 Tulane Maritime Law Seminar
  • 1996 Defense Research Institute Annual Meeting
  • 1996 ABA Annual Meeting
  • 1991 ABA Annual Meeting
  • 1989 ABA Annual Meeting
  • 1980 ABA Annual Meeting

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