A Maritime, Trade & Civil Litigation Practice

– based in Charleston, South Carolina –

Hines & Gilsenan LLC is an innovative maritime, trade and civil litigation practice based in Charleston, South Carolina. The firm was established in 2021 by Julius “Sam” Hines and Ryan D. Gilsenan, both proctors in admiralty and alumni of an iconic Charleston admiralty practice. Our attorneys represent steamship lines, ship owners and charterers, towing companies pilot associations, and parties to marine insurance contracts. We respond around the clock to maritime emergencies in Charleston and elsewhere in the Southeastern United States, including collisions, oil spills, MARPOL investigations, cargo damage, personal injuries, and vessel arrests. The firm serves as correspondent for many of the world’s major protection and indemnity clubs. We also represent sellers, buyers and yards in contracts for the construction and sale of commercial and recreational vessels. In addition to maritime work, the firm maintains a robust practice in international trade, construction law, premises liability, and commercial litigation.

Hines & Gilsenan LLC is committed to leveraging technology to deliver high-quality legal services at fair rates. Our physical space is at the Charleston Navy Yard, central to many of Charleston’s container, dry bulk, and tanker terminals, shipyards, boatyards, tugboat docks, warehouses, and other waterfront businesses. We are proud to be located near the industries we serve.

Meet the Team

Julius H. “Sam” Hines | PARTNER

hines@hinesandgilsenan.com // 843.972.3948

Julius “Sam” Hines has been practicing law since 1992. He attended law school at the University of Virginia, where he served on the Virginia Law Review. After law school, Hines joined Buist Moore Smythe & McGee, where he handled maritime, commercial and appellate matters. He has tried many cases and argued appeals in several courts, including the South Carolina Supreme Court and the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. He is an adjunct professor at the Charleston School of Law, where he teaches maritime law topics. Hines is also certified as a mediator by the federal and state courts of South Carolina.

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After his original firm merged with what is now Womble Bond Dickenson, Hines moved to the international firm of K&L Gates, LLP, where he practiced for six years. In 2019, Hines formed Hines Law LLC, which, with the addition of a new partner, became Hines & Gilsenan LLC. In addition to his private law practice, Hines serves as an adjunct professor at the Charleston School of Law, where he teaches courses in maritime law and international trade.


Bar Admissions

  • United States Supreme Court
  • United States Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit
  • United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit
  • United States Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit
  • United States District Court, District of South Carolina
  • United States District Court, Southern District of Texas
  • South Carolina Supreme Court

Professional Activities



Best Lawyers in America,  Admiralty & Maritime Law, 2024

Chambers and Partners, Transportation: Shipping/Maritime: Litigation (outside New York), 2024 

SuperLawyers 2024

Named to Charleston Business Magazine’s 2018 Legal Elite in maritime and international law

Ryan Gilsenan | PARTNER

gilsenan@hinesandgilsenan.com // 843.847.8003

Ryan attended the United States Merchant Marine Academy and worked as a marine engineer before going to law school at the University of South Carolina. As a litigator representing international and domestic clients alike, Ryan solves problems with creativity and diligence. With a maritime practice serving ship owners, charterers, pilot associations and underwriters in casualty response and litigation, Ryan also drafts and negotiates transportation agreements and charter parties. In other aspects of his law practice, Ryan represents contractors and building supply manufacturers in construction cases and litigates a variety of tort cases and contract disputes.

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As a former seagoing engineer in the United States Merchant Marine, Ryan has firsthand experience in the technical design, operation, maintenance and repair of general cargo ships, product tankers, container ships, bulk carriers, and pure car/truck carriers, and articulated tug-barges. Ryan is on-call 24/7 to investigate and protect vessel interests in connection with machinery failure, groundings, collisions, wet and dry cargo claims, pollution incidents, dock damage, personal injuries to longshoremen and crew, as well as to provide immediate response in MARPOL criminal defense matters, and to handle vessel arrest and casualty response. In this regard, Ryan has capably represented vessel owners and charterers alike hailing from Bermuda and the Caribbean, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, New York, Russia, Scandinavia, Singapore and the United Kingdom.


  • J.D., 2006, University of South Carolina School of Law, 2006
    CALI award for excellence in Product Liability​​
    First Place, J. Woodrow Lewis Moot Court Competition
  • M.A., 2000, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
    Journalism and Mass Communication
  • B.S. 1997, United States Merchant Marine Academy, Kings Point, New York
    Marine Engineering Systems​

Bar Admissions

  • United States Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit
  • United States Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit
  • United States District Court, District of South Carolina
  • South Carolina Supreme Court

Professional Activities

  • Maritime Law Association of the United States, Proctor
  • Southeastern Admiralty Law Institute
    Long Range Planning Committee​
  • Maritime Association of South Carolina
    Board Member 2018-present​
Jay Smith at Hines & Gilsenan Martime Law Charleston SC

Jay Smith | Associate

smith@hinesandgilsenan.com // 203.536.2083

Prior to joining Hines Gilsenan, LLC, Jay was the Vice President and General Counsel of a national marine firefighting and casualty response company based in Charleston, South Carolina. In that role, Jay served steamship lines in developing casualty response plans, as well as with private equity investors to grow and develop the company. During his tenure, Jay also developed expertise in federal regulations of shipping, casualty response, and marine firefighting, and liaising with the U.S. Coast Guard to assure vessel compliance.

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Jay has also been a member of a software company that provides event-management and claims-handling solutions to property managers. In his free time, Jay serves as a director for two non-profit organizations dedicated to conservation of natural resources and the expansion of human knowledge in the fields of ecology, botany, zoology, natural history, and archaeology. Previously, Jay worked in the General Counsel’s office at the National Audubon Society, as well as with two international private equity groups. Jay brings strong research and writing skills to the Firm, as well as experience with claims and litigation.


  • J.D., 2014, Charleston School of Law
    CALI Award Winner
  • B.A., 2010, Brown University​

Bar Admissions

  • South Carolina Supreme Court

Professional Activities

  • St. Catherines Island Foundation
  • Edward John Noble Foundation
  • USCG Maritime​


Practice Areas


Trade & Logistics

Commercial Law
& Litigation



Dispute Resolution

Maritime Law

Hines & Gilsenan LLC offers a broad and diverse maritime law practice. Their lawyers have boarded hundreds of commercial ships in the Port of Charleston, South Carolina and beyond, in which they have handled a variety of shipping matters on behalf of vessel operators and other interests. The matters have included navigational accidents, cargo loss damage, pollution incidents, regulatory infractions, injuries to personnel, and MARPOL defense. The firm serves as Charleston correspondent for most of the international protection and indemnity (“P&I”) clubs that underwrite shipping risks.

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The firm also handles maritime-related litigation, such as ship arrests and limitation of liability proceedings, as well as arbitrations involving charter disputes, ship construction and repair contracts, towage matters and similar disputes. We also represent and counsel clients in the drafting and negotiation of such contracts.

As our blog makes clear, we closely follow developments in marine insurance law, a subject taught by Julius “Sam” Hines at the Charleston School of Law. We have counseled and represented both policyholders and underwriters with respect to marine insurance issues and disputes.

Hines & Gilsenan also practices in the recreational boating area. We represent buyers and sellers of boats and yachts, assisting with drafting and review of contracts of sale as well as closing, documentation and registration. We assist boat builders and owners with newbuilding contracts. We also advise lenders with respect to drafting and recording of vessel mortgages.

Contracts for the construction or purchase of vessels can end up in disputes. At Hines & Gilsenan, we handle delay and force majeure claims, as well as workmanship and quality disputes. Where necessary, we can arrest vessels to secure storage and repair charges.

Small boat accidents, like major ship collisions, are usually governed by maritime law. At Hines & Gilsenan, we represent commercial maritime operators in cases involving small boat accidents. We are also retained by boat liability insurers to defend their insured boat owners. Although we are not a personal injury law firm, we do accept maritime personal injury claims on a limited and selective basis. Please feel free to contact us for a confidential consultation if you think our firm might be the right choice for a personal injury claim. 

Article by Mr. Hines on recreational boat warranties

International Trade & Logistics

International trade has been a growth area in Charleston and the Southeastern United States for many years. South Carolina has gone from having a largely agrarian and textile-based economy to developing a dynamic manufacturing economy marked by automotive, aerospace and medical sectors. Our logistics industry is driven by the Port of Charleston, including inland ports established in Greer and Dillon, South Carolina. Hines & Gilsenan LLC assists clients with a variety of international trade and logistics-related matters, including terms of sale, letters of credit and other payment methods, cargo insurance issues, customs-related matters, and trade-related litigation and international arbitration.

Commercial Law & Litigation

Hines & Gilsenan LLC also practices in a variety of commercial law and litigation areas. These matters often involve the Uniform Commercial Code as it applies to sales of goods, negotiable instruments, funds transfers, letters of credit and secured transactions. The practice also extends to business disputes of all kinds, such as ownership disputes or claims of unfair competition.

Appellate Advocacy

Our attorneys are admitted in several appellate courts, including the United States Supreme Court, the U.S. Courts of Appeal for the Fourth, Fifth and Eleventh Circuits, and the Supreme Court of South Carolina. The firm’s practice includes appellate advocacy on issues of maritime and commercial law, among other matters.

Construction Law

In addition to maritime and trade, Hines & Gilsenan’s attorneys also practice in the area of construction law and litigation. This practice area includes assistance with negotiation of construction contracts and subcontracts and representation of builders, owners, developers, design professionals and others in construction-related litigation and arbitration

Alternative Dispute Resolution

Maritime, trade and other complex disputes are often resolved through some form of alternative dispute resolution. Mediation and arbitration are two popular alternatives to traditional litigation in the courts. Julius “Sam” Hines is certified as a mediator in the federal and state courts of South Carolina and can assist parties in resolving their disputes through a voluntary process in which the mediator assists in reaching a mutually acceptable outcome. He is also a member of the Charlotte International Arbitration Society and is available to serve on arbitration panels or as a sole arbitrator.

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