Steven M. Stancliff


Practice Areas

  • Admiralty & Maritime Law, Practice Group Chair
  • Litigation
  • Railroad & Transit Law
  • Subrogation

  • Businesses and Industries

  • Dredging Companies 
  • Vessel Owners and Operators
  • Shipyard and Waterfront Facilities
  • U.S. and International Marine Insurers
  • Marina Owners and Operators
  • Marine Salvage
  • General Maritime Companies
  • Railroads

  • Honors and Awards

    AV® Preeminent™ Peer Review Rating by LexisNexis Martindale-Hubbell

    Listed in Virginia "Super Lawyers", 2013 - 2014

    Steven M. Stancliff

    Steve handles a broad spectrum of disputes and transactions involving the maritime industry, and variety of commercial, maritime and admiralty civil litigation matters in federal and state courts in Virginia and North Carolina.

    Representative Experience:

    • Resolves admiralty and maritime disputes (vessel arrests, Jones Act claims, Suits in Admiralty Act, Federal Tort Claims Act, Shipowners Limitation of Liability Act, contract disputes, maritime torts, fishing vessel operations, licensing and permits, damaged shore structures, personal injuries, and machinery failures.)
    • Lectured in the regional and local maritime and legal communities on maritime legal issues relating to vessel arrest, ship-owners limitation of liability actions, marine salvage, vessel collisions, marine casualty investigations and recreational vessels.
    • More than 20 years active duty commissioned service in the United States Coast Guard, concluding at the rank of Commander.  Legal, shipboard engineering and operational assignments in New York City, Newport, RI, Cleveland, OH, Honolulu, HI, San Francisco, CA, Boston, MA and Portsmouth, VA.
    • Legal advisor for Coast Guard and other federal officials regarding urgent maritime operations, regulation of commercial shipping and licensed mariners, environmental compliance, criminal investigations and enforcement, maritime trade, maritime transportation security, investigation of major marine casualties, and international law issues.
    • As Trial Attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice, litigated civil claims in Admiralty on behalf of the United States, including ship collisions, groundings, oil spills, contract disputes and law enforcement activities.
    • Routinely directed and coordinated complex civil and criminal inter-agency investigations among numerous federal, state and international investigative agencies in maritime domain. 
    • Special Assistant United States Attorney in the Districts of Maine and Rhode Island investigating and prosecuting allegations of oil pollution, MARPOL violations, and violent crime on the high seas.

    Representative Cases:

    • Flame S.A. v. Indus. Carriers, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 131981 (E.D. Va. Sept. 19, 2014)
    • Kelly v. United States, 7:10-CV-172-FL, 2011 WL 3555853 (E.D.N.C. Aug. 11, 2011
    • Norfolk and Portsmouth Belt Line Railroad Co. v. M/V MARLIN, 2009 A.M.C. 2465 (E.D. Va. 2009)
    • Styron v. Norfolk Dredging Co., 262 F.R.D. 502, 502 (E.D.N.C. 2009)
    • Eck v. United States, 1999 AMC 2941 (S.D.Cal);
    • United States v. Phillips, 56 M.J. 771 (C.G. Ct. Crim. App. 2002)

    Articles and Presentations:

    • “It’s No Fun Being an (Injured) Illegal Alien (Maritime Worker),” presented at SEALI Annual Meeting (2010)
    • “The Continuing Vitality of the Limitation of Liability Act,” presented at SEALI Annual Meeting (2009)
    • “A Legal Guide to Pleasure Boating” — presented at Norfolk & Portsmouth Bar Association CLE Seminar — covering subjects including: the nautical rules of the road, the legal framework for Coast Guard search and rescue operations, the evolution of government maritime security regimes, laws for the protection of the environment, and law enforcement authorities on the navigable waters of the United States; May 2008 and 2010
    • State and Federal Cooperation in Maritime Homeland Security Mission; Panelist at National Association of State Boating Law Administrators 45th Annual Conference, 2004 
    • United Nations Conventions on the Law of the Sea, Maritime Security, and International Fisheries Law and Management; Defense International Institute of Legal Studies 2003 mission to the archipelagic state of Vanuatu.

    Outside Reviews:

    • "I had the distinct pleasure of working with Steve Stancliff for several years. His commitment to excellence is evident in his high quality work and professionalism. He honed his maritime skills as a lawyer with the Coast Guard and has continued to develop a mastery of maritime law. I would strongly endorse him as a resource for maritime interests who want to work with a professional and benefit from his experience and contacts in the industry."  (opinion statement, Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review)
    • "I have known Steve Stancliff for over 10 years, and can state that he is an extremely capable and ethical attorney that I would refer without reservation. He has intimate knowledge of the substantive law and outstanding grasp of practice on both the state and federal levels."  (opinion statement, Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review)
    • "Steven M. Stancliff is an outstanding attorney with years of experience in-field, excellent judgement, a whealth of knowledge, and the ability analyze and communicate it. He has an impecable reputation for honesty and integrity."  (opinion statement, Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review)


    Case Western Reserve University, J.D. 1996

    University of Rhode Island, M.M.A. (Marine Affairs) 1992

    United States Coast Guard Academy, B.S. (Marine Engineering) 1984

    Bar Admissions

    Virginia State Bar

    North Carolina State Bar

    Ohio State Bar

    United States Supreme Court

    United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

    United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces

    United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia

    United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina

    United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio


    Maritime Law Association of the United States (Proctor)

    Southeastern Admiralty Law Institute (Board of Directors, 2010-2011; Chairman, Long Range Planning Committee, 2013; Editorial Board, 2014)

    Virginia Maritime Association

    Virginia Bar Association

    North Carolina Bar Association

    Norfolk & Portsmouth Bar Association

    James Kent American Inn of Court

    Community Involvement

    The Propeller Club of Norfolk