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About me

Bob Nicholas practices in the areas of tort litigation. He concentrates his practice in the admiralty, environmental and international trade law areas for energy industry clients, as well as companies engaged in the international trade areas on the import side. Mr. Nicholas’ general maritime law experience includes personal injury/death claims, collision/stranding or groundings, salvage, general average, cargo claims, marine insurance charter parties, international law of the sea and related conventions. He has extensive experience in the drafting and preparation of virtually all types of marine-related agreements. In the administrative law area, he has prepared filings with the U.S. Maritime Administration and U.S. Coast Guard in connection with the use, documentation, charter or financing of vessels. Mr. Nicholas has also prepared oil spill response contracts between major oil companies as well as spill response contractors.

In the energy law area, his experience includes providing legal advice in connection with offshore drilling contracts and the charter of all types of offshore support vessels and seismic research vessels. Mr. Nicholas has also been involved in the sale and purchase of offshore drilling rigs and all types of offshore support vessels. In the area of environmental law, he provides legal advice on compliance with state and federal environmental laws affecting clients’ ocean and inland marine operations including the handling and disposition of hazardous waste under federal and state law. In the international trade area, he has been involved in a number of projects involving the importation of large floating offshore production facilities (SPARS) and components. Mr. Nicholas has experience in obtaining ruling requests from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) on a variety of issues including NAFTA, foreign shipyard repairs and Jones Act coastwise trade issues. He conducts compliance audits for marine clients and provides advice in connection with such audits.

Mr. Nicholas previously served as in-house counsel to SeaRiver Maritime, Inc.; general counsel for Exxon Shipping Company, a position he held at the time of the EXXON VALDEZ oil spill; and Assistant United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Texas.


Practice areas


  1. Maritime: 75%
  2. Litigation: 25%

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Contact info

Phelps Dunbar

500 Dallas Street
Suite 1300
Houston, TX, 77002


TXEligible To Practice In Texas 196608/17/2016
We have not found any instances of professional misconduct for this lawyer.
Avvo contributions
Legal answers
Association namePosition nameDuration
State Bar of TexasMemberN/A
Houston Maritime Arbitrators AssociationMemberN/A
Houston Maritime Arbitrators AssociationMemberN/A
Publication nameTitleDate
Tulane Law ReviewFederal and State Preemption Regarding Vessel Construction and Operation1999
School nameMajorDegreeGraduated
University of Texas School of LawLawJD - Juris Doctor1966
Lamar UniversityN/ABS - Bachelor of Science1963
Speaking engagements
Conference nameTitleDate
University of Texas 22nd Annual Admiralty and Maritime Law ConferenceEvery Description of Watercraft2013
Rocky Mountain Mineral Law InstituteOcean Transportation of Oil and Gas and Hard Minerals2005
Proceedings National Research CouncilNew Laws Governing the Jettisoning of Oil1994
UT Admiralty SeminarThe Ethics of Dealing with Mass Disasters in Maritime LawN/A
University of Houston Oil Spill SymposiumThe Oil Pollution Act of 1990 RevisitedN/A
Tulane Admiralty Law InstituteThe Oil Pollution Act of 1990 Going on Twenty YearsN/A