Maritime & Marine

"It's been an amazing journey": Gallagher meet LA Marine founding Partner Russell Kelly in this month's Marine Matters

By Gallagher Marine [email protected]

Published: February 11, 2024 | Updated: 11th February 2024

In this month’s Marine Matters Gallagher meet Russell Kelly, founding Partner at LA Marine, and learn about his upcoming retirement and his lengthy and successful career in marine law.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m married to Anne and we have two grown up children, Fred and Camilla.

I was brought up in Hampshire (Emsworth) and subsequently went to the University of Leeds where I studied Botany.  Once I’d graduated, I thought, ‘well that was fun but now I need to earn a living’!

I thought that law sounded interesting and went on to do a conversion course, completing my solicitor’s finals exams in Chester.  I then did my articles (equivalent of a current training contract) in London with a shipping law firm. That set me on my marine law path and I’ve never looked back.

What is the history of LA Marine and what services do you offer?

Having worked in the City for some years, in the late 90s I was looking for other opportunities and moved back to Hampshire with my family.

It was shortly after that that I was approached by Lester Aldridge Solicitors who wanted to set up a shipping department. The firm was about to open a new office in Southampton and it seemed a very natural base for a marine practice.

Three lawyers, including myself, were recruited and we decided to call ourselves LA Marine.  We’re now in our 24th year and are very well established as one of the go-to firms for legal advice in the marine sector.

Growth has been exponential and we’ve attracted some extremely good lawyers. There’s a real synergy between LA Marine and the businesses that we represent.

In addition to those of us in Southampton, part of the team is now located in the firm’s head office in Bournemouth, where the work undertaken is more focussed on commercial shipping and logistics while the Southampton office team specialises more on the leisure marine and superyacht markets.

LA Marine team at the Southampton Boat Show

The LA Marine team at the Southampton Boat Show

Marine law has its own quirks and our team are well known for their expertise in this niche area, having in-depth knowledge and a genuine passion for the marine and shipping industries.  We work with clients all over the UK and across the globe, with many international clients.

LA Marine cover a vast range of issues. On a day-to-day basis you don’t know what you’ll be dealing with or what will come in.  It’s hugely varied and that’s what makes it so interesting.

We could be called upon to help a client who is buying a boat, act in a dispute arising out of a contract for the sale of a boat, support a client who is being prosecuted by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency or dealing with a claim following an injury suffered on a boat. The list is endless – always a huge array of situations and clients.

The whole team take much pride in achieving great results and outcomes for our clients.

Back – Lucy Goff, Russell Kelly, Helen Whittaker, Philippa Langton, Front – Charlotte Russell, Jennie Harris

LA Marine is looking forward to celebrating its 25th anniversary next year, so watch this space for details of how we will mark this special occasion.  The marine department has a great reputation within the business too and trainees coming into the firm will often want to do part of their training in our team; it’s a very popular rotation.

I will be retiring at the end of March 2024. I will be really sad to be leaving as I love working with my team, love the clients and love pretty much everything about the job. It’s been an amazing journey and a hugely varied and rewarding career with some great memories!

Do you have any career highlights?

Well one highlight was undoubtedly meeting David Bowie on the bridge of the QE2. I was on board investigating an incident, talking to one of the crew, when David came up to me, introduced himself and asked if he could have his photo taken on the bridge.

Do you have any regrets?

That my encounter with Bowie was at a time before mobile phones had cameras and so I couldn’t get a selfie!

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