The Benesch Transportation & Logistics Group is nationally preeminent and was specifically created to address the needs of users and providers of transportation and logistics services. This multidisciplinary group of transactional, regulatory, and litigation attorneys, like so many others within the firm, services clients nationally and internationally.
Benesch has received the distinction of being named Transportation Law Firm of the Year by U.S. News & World Report/Best Lawyers® “Best Law Firms” for 2023. We also received this recognition in 2014, 2016, 2017, 2020 and 2022. Only one law firm per practice area in the U.S. receives this recognition each year, making this award a particularly significant achievement. Additionally, for the tenth consecutive year (2014-2023), Benesch received a national first-tier ranking in Transportation Law by U.S. News & World Report/Best Lawyers® “Best Law Firms.” The U.S. News & World Report/Best Lawyers® “Best Law Firms” rankings are based on an evaluation process that includes the collection of client and lawyer evaluations and peer review from leading attorneys in their field. Benesch has also received a National Band 1 ranking in Transportation Law by Chambers & Partners in Chambers USA 2023. Since 1990, Chambers has published the world’s leading guides to the legal profession and has built a reputation for in-depth, objective research. Chambers ranks lawyers and law firms on several factors and considerations, all of which are investigated by a team of more than 170 researchers.
We have significant experience in transportation and logistics management, in all transportation modes, on a regional, national, and global basis. Seven of the Group’s attorneys were formerly in the transportation industry, working in-house at various motor carriers and freight forwarders for decades. Consequently, we are also able to provide valuable industry perspectives and a deep and broad historical knowledge of the regulatory and legal regime. Our firm also has specific expertise in supply chain, logistics management, and warehousing related issues. By its very nature, the transportation industry is labor intensive. Thus, our labor and employment law skill sets are an integral part of the Transportation & Logistics Group. Also, we have deep experience with cargo claims, vehicular casualty work, environmental claims, coverage disputes, freight charge disputes, freight intermediary issues, transportation and warehouse contracting, regulatory matters, acquisitions, restructuring, and subrogation work.
Broad Based Representation Throughout the Supply Chain
Benesch is one of the few law firms in the country that not only has a full service Transportation & Logistics Practice Group, but also represents entities all along the transportation continuum and in all modes of transportation – whether surface (truck or rail), water (ocean as well as inland waterways), or air (international and domestic). We understand the business. We understand the thought processes, rationales, and business and legal motivations of other entities in the transportation chain with whom our clients have dealings. We are able to thus springboard from that expertise and extrapolate it into cutting edge, up-to-the-minute legal representation of our clients in transportation and logistics. This cutting edge representation maximizes protections and advantages for our clients in that transportation continuum. More specifically, we represent motor carriers, air carriers, rail carriers, and maritime carriers. However, we also represent a broad array of “freight intermediaries,” e.g., transportation brokers, surface freight forwarders, air freight forwarders, ocean freight forwarders, and non-vessel operating common carriers. We represent warehousing entities up and down the transportation chain and numerous shippers and consignees. This broad based expertise, and intricate and intensive working knowledge of all aspects, and all entities, in the transportation continuum, places Benesch in a unique position to serve its clients in an extraordinary way.
We also have specific experience in all types of contracts up and down the transportation continuum. We regularly assist our clients with the drafting, negotiation, and revision of shipper-carrier contracts, broker-carrier contracts, broker-shipper contracts, warehouseman contracts, cross-docking arrangements, drayage contracts, customs brokerage contracts, port-terminal operational contracts, global services agreements, and the plethora of other transportation and logistics contracts in the industry. The Group is also well experienced at preparing and negotiating warehouse operating and pick-&-pack agreements for major distribution center activities for both domestic and international shipments in addition to mainstream domestic motor carrier and rail related transportation and broker agreements. The group also has extensive experience in preparing and negotiating multimodal transportation contracts for shipments that never touch the United States and move point to point between countries throughout the world, particularly with respect to cargo with governing law provisions based upon treaties and conventions.
We also have experience in developing state of the art contractual transportation templates for shippers, carriers, and intermediaries for use with all modes of transportation. Each template is designed for regular use and specifically to protect the interests of the client. Some representative matters in this regard include:
Transportation remains an industry heavily regulated by federal, state, and local governments. In trucking, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations require carriers to establish and maintain safety compliance systems for drivers and vehicles. Hazardous materials transportation requirements and transportation security issues have moved front and center in this era of higher security.
Benesch's lawyers have experience with the regulations that directly affect how our clients runs their businesses. We can proactively assist our clients in developing a compliance program, as well as respond to compliance issues if they should occur. We help our clients navigate the maze of transportation and other governmental regulations through our thorough understanding of the underlying objectives of the regulatory structure.
We also have preeminent expertise in issues related to “carrier selection,” by which shippers, carriers, and/or brokers are brought into catastrophic injury lawsuits in efforts to locate a deep pocket. (We have won several of these cases and also served as expert witnesses in several of these cases in which our clients have prevailed.). Other representative experience follows:
International Freight Forwarder Representation
Benesch’s Transportation & Logistics Practice Group represents a wide variety of third-party logistics providers, including international freight forwarders. The firm helps these businesses find solutions to the challenges facing those operating in this dynamic industry - whether in the context of transportation by air or by ocean. Examples of our related experience are provided below:
Among other things, our team actively represents a wide variety of companies in various segments of the transportation industry located throughout the country in establishing, improving and managing effective independent contractor programs for companies headquartered throughout North America including California, Connecticut, Florida, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, and which operate nationwide and in Canada. These operations include:
Dry Van Flatbed Bulk and Tank
Refrigerated Specialized and Rigging Drayage
Specific representative examples of Benesch’s experience in the area of independent contractors include:
We recognize that proactive, preventive maintenance is the most effective way of avoiding costly litigation. To that end, we are very active in counseling clients on day-to-day employment issues as they arise. This counseling takes many forms, such as reviewing disciplinary or discharge decisions; reviewing policies, programs and compensation plans for compliance with the Title VII, FMLA, ADA, FLSA, ADEA, O.R.C. § 4112 and the myriad of other employment laws; advising employers during reductions in force; providing supervisor training on issues such as employment-at-will, equal employment opportunity and workplace harassment; preparing employment agreements; and implementing alternative dispute resolution programs. The counseling we provide is always with complete recognition that maximizing the client’s business position is as important a priority as avoiding litigation. Specific examples of the counseling we have provided include the following:
Finding Creative Solutions
As times change and companies strive to meet growing demands to receive the right product at the right place and in good condition – immediately - our scope of services has also evolved to accommodate the business realities to which our dynamic client base must respond. Our transportation and logistics clients from across the country have broadened their industry scopes and entered innumerable new marketplaces, new niches, and new supply chain strategies. Our clients have come to us with a myriad of amazingly creative ideas, pioneering business models and new hybridized enterprises. We pride ourselves in maximizing the value of our seat at the table. We specialize in contributing to the development of those ideas, those new concepts and those new niches, and helping our clients refine their strategies and structure their implementations with appropriate contractual documents, risk-appropriate transactional and regulatory compliance methods, and internal corporate documentation and guidance – to make those ideas soar. We have helped our clients launch hybridized value-added warehousing concepts, created backhaul brokerage operations at and within private fleets, established brokerage operations within motor carriers, set up motor carrier and warehouse operations within brokerages, offered light assembly services from within warehouse operations, and many other creative ideas that have generated positive growth, and legally compliant growth, for our client base.
Active and Pervasive Involvement in Pertinent Industry Organizations
We believe that it is critical for legal counsel during this visionary time to be current and on the cutting edge of all industry, legal and regulatory developments. To that effect, the attorneys in our Transportation & Logistics Group play active and integral roles in various industrywide organizations, helping us to stay on that cutting edge. For instance, Marc Blubaugh is the general counsel for IANA and thus is familiar with nationwide multimodal issues on a daily and ongoing basis. We are also members of the IWLA and speak at its legal seminar annually, and have drafted several template contracts for that organization. We are also active members of the TIA (Transportation Intermediaries Association). Martha Payne is on the Education Committee for that organization. Several of our lawyers have spoken at that organization’s annual conference and other CEO seminars for that group every year for at least the last decade. Our attorneys have served on the food transport committees and regulatory committees of that organization. Several of our attorneys are active members of the Conference of Freight Counsel and have attended and presented at its meetings decades. That organization is the preeminent organization dealing with freight loss and damage across all modes, including freight intermediaries. We actively participate, i.e. speaking, writing and attending conferences for numerous other industry groups that touch upon the freight intermediary/3PL space, including the Transportation Lawyers Association, the Truckload Carriers Association, the National Tank Truck Carriers, the Specialty Carriers & Rigging Association, the American Trucking Association (in which we hold several committee positions), the Transportation Loss Prevention & Security Association (one of our team was a founding board member), Transportation and Logistics Council, Air Forwarders Association, the National Customs Brokers and Freight Forward Association of America and many more.