Interview Professor

Professor Martin J. Davies

Admiralty Law Institute Professor of Maritime Law & Director of the Maritime Law Center


Prof. & Director of the Maritime Law Center

How long have you been teaching at Tulane Law School? And what brought you here?

I was invited to apply, as the school was looking for a successor to Prof. Force as Director of the Maritime Law Center. 
As an academic maritime lawyer, this was an offer too good to refuse.

What defines Tulane Law School? What is unique about it?

There is no single thing that defines the school. It seems to be a very welcoming, friendly, relaxed place. That makes it a pleasant place in which to work. The culture among the students seems always to be supportive rather than competitive in a cut-throated way.

What is your daily routine as a professor?

First, coffee. 
Second, emails, which can take a long time. 
Third, either prepare for class, or if no class on that day, straight to research and writing. 

A large chunk of every day is spent on writing.  About 20 % of my time is spent on consulting work for law firms, and often their work is time-sensitive.  Even for that, my work is research and writing, which is the bulk of my life. (Also, probably more coffee at some point.)

Which course(s) do you teach?

Contracts I, Admiralty I, Admiralty II, International Sale of Goods, Transnational Litigation, International Commercial Arbitration, Admiralty Seminar. 
I suppose I should include Torts, which I used to teach and would do so again if needed.

How do you support young lawyers at Tulane Law School?

Helping young lawyers about access to maritime law practice is a very large part of my job. I am the main point of contact for our students seeking to get jobs in my field. I am still contacted regularly by potential employers looking to hire (someone called me just this morning) and by former students. It’s a large part of my life.

What do you value most about working at Tulane?

Being able to choose to do what I think to be important. The freedom as an academic to choose one’s own work agenda is an asset beyond price. I work with practicing lawyers all the time, and I know very well the imperatives that drive their workdays. I am grateful, beyond words, that I do not work under those conditions.

What do you do in your leisure time?

I play classical guitar (without ever improving, it seems). I run (getting slower every year). I read novels. I try to keep up with my subscriptions to the New York Review of Books, the New Yorker, and Private Eye (a much-loved British satirical journal). I cook – I love to cook.

Name three term that you associate with the word „law“.

Essential. Open-textured. Misunderstood.

You are planning a law-free weekend on a desert island and you are allowed to take only three things with you. What would they be?

My wife (not a “thing,” but you know what I mean). A boxed set of the symphonies of Ludwig van Beethoven. A case of fine wine.

Which advice would you like to give every young lawyer?

Realize how much power you now have. You may or may not feel very important or influential, depending on what tasks you are performing, but have a great deal of influence over the lives of your clients. Don’t forget that.