James McMahon

James McMahon - U.S. Coast Guard

James McMahon
U.S. Coast Guard

Juneau, AK 99801


James McMahon
U.S. Coast Guard

Attorney Profile

Regional Counsel and experienced mariner with a strong background in maritime law, international law, natural resource and environmental law, criminal litigation, criminal and administrative investigations, national security law, administrative law, and managerial and organizational ethics and experience in international relations, employment law, and estate planning. 


Trusted, highly regarded principle legal advisor.  Provides strategic and actionable legal advice to senior executives and field-level managers on broad array of legal, regulatory and policy issues to assure effective mission execution in a fast-paced operational environment covering 3.8 million square miles of ocean and 35% of U.S. coastline.  24/7 availability to clients.  Holds a TOP SECRET security clearance.

Proven leader.  Promotes a mission-focused team environment through sound leadership and active mentoring of licensed professionals.  Currently leads a team of four attorneys and two paralegals and previously led a team of three appellate counsel and two support staff.  Commanded and led field units of 17 to 50 persons with diverse backgrounds, levels of experience and technical skills.

Tactful and diplomatic in dealing with external entities while protecting client’s interests.  Represented U.S. institutions during international engagements with senior military officials from Australia, Chile, Ecuador, Mexico, and the Russian Federation.  Promoted U.S. Government position on issues of national significance while seeking a genuine understanding of the interests and concerns of other governments.  Negotiated Secretary-level agreement to leverage Department of Defense capabilities as a force multiplier for enhanced maritime homeland security and agility in incident response.   

Maritime law expertise.  Routinely provides advice on complex issues and statutes, judicial opinions and regulations impacting the maritime industry, including vessel design and construction, vessel manning, port state control measures, vessel detention, pilotage, and waterfront facility operations and security.  Renders real-time advice on law of the sea, fisheries regulations, and search and seizure law to ensure lawful execution of maritime law enforcement actions.

Environmental law experience with natural resources protection, pollution prevention, spill response, and environmental management and compliance.  Coordinates preparation of environmental crimes cases by field inspectors and federal agents for prosecution by U.S. Attorney.  Ensures organizational compliance with National Environmental Policy Act, Marine Mammal Protection Act, Endangered Species Act, Clean Water Act, RCRA and CERCLA. 

Litigation experience in a federal criminal court.  Prosecuted 15 cases involving illegal cocaine use and distribution, sexual assault, unlawful entry, fraud, and desertion and appeared before military judges in court-martials for arraignments and sentencing hearings.  Interviewed witnesses and directed federal agents to prepare cases for trial.  Negotiated plea agreements with opposing counsel.

Effective governmental relations.  Achieved client’s desired outcome and prevented costly litigation on highly controversial issue through cogent written and oral advocacy before State regulatory agency.  Prepared well-received testimony for senior executive and coordinated his appearance before State legislature and committees to discuss matters of national consequence.  Advice and counsel defused tensions between federal agencies and environmental advocacy organization.

Elucidated complex legal concepts to international and domestic audiences.  Led seminar discussions on topical issues of international law and national security with graduate-level, mid-career professionals with extensive experience in overseas operations.  Lectured before classes with students from 38 countries and at seminars in Australia, Chile, Ecuador, and Mexico.

Professional Experience:

Commissioned Officer, U.S. Coast Guard, 5/1989 – Present

            Attorney Positions (9/2003 - Present)          

            Staff Judge Advocate (Sr. Regional Counsel), Juneau, Alaska, 7/2008 – Present
            Professor of International Law, U.S. Naval War College, 6/2006 – 6/2008                                                             
            Senior Military Justice Counsel, Washington, DC, 12/2005 – 6/2006     
            Trial Counsel, Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia, 9/2005 – 11/2005 
            Staff Attorney, Office of Maritime and International Law, Washington, DC, 9/2003 – 8/2005

            Operational & Staff Officer Positions (5/1989 - 6/2000)
            8 years of shipboard duty as Commanding Officer, Executive Officer, and Deck Watch Officer.
            Three years as a quality assurance inspector and training manager for two shipbuilding programs.

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