Meaningful Work: Tulane Law Student Ashleigh Higgs’ Summer CMA Internship

Tulane/SCI Summer Intern Ashleigh Higgs with CMA Director Philip C. Schifflin, Jr., Esq. (Photo: Arthur Yves).

For 27 years, SCI’s Center for Mariner Advocacy has welcomed students from Tulane University School of Law to work as interns during their 1L summer. This summer, CMA welcomed Ashleigh Higgs to the longstanding program, where she was able to engage with and learn from the meaningful work that CMA does. Here are a few of the projects in which Ashleigh participated: 

• A long-term research project about the repatriation rights of U.S. mariners upon the completion of their contract. In light of the ongoing labor crisis and COVID-19 pandemic, Ashleigh’s research will provide CMA with more tools to assist mariners forced to overstay their contracts. 

• Along with CMA Director Phil Schifflin, Ashleigh connected with Ally Cedeno, the Founder and CEO of Women Offshore. Through this introduction, Ashleigh has begun research projects about enforcement and penalties for sexual assault/sexual harassment cases on ships and increased representation of women in maritime. 

• Visited New York City, where Ashleigh met with attorneys from two large law firms, the Liberian Ship Registry, SCI Chaplains at the International Seafarers’ Center, seafarers at Port Newark (while on ship visits), and U.S. Coast Guard Sector New York Port State Control Division.  

• Helped to coordinate the organization and collaboration of a Mariner Wellness Steering Committee; work that extends from the Paducah roundtable in July 2021, where leaders and experts in the maritime field met to discuss the wellness issues mariners face, and how to best resolve them. 

• Assisted CMA with two cases in Spanish, translating emails, newspaper articles from 1973, medical reports, and communications with mariners to understand the cases and problem-solve solutions. 

Ashleigh plans to return to Tulane Law for the Fall 2022 semester, where she will act as a junior member of the Maritime Law Journal, Vice President of the Maritime Law Society, and, most importantly, a dedicated 2L law student. She passes along her thanks to Douglas Stevenson, CMA Director Emeritus, and to all of the wonderful staff at the Seamen’s Church Institute who were welcoming and helpful in her search for more information about maritime law. She would especially like to thank Phil Schifflin for his gracious mentorship and guidance during her time as an intern. For the Seamen’s Church Institute, it was a pleasure having Ashleigh aboard; we are grateful for her contributions and wish her well.

Recently, Ashleigh joined SCI Chaplain Tom Rhoades for a long ride aboard Marquette’s MV Dennis Fromenthal. Pictured here, Ashleigh joined the crew in the wheelhouse during the watch change for the daily safety meeting.