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A MIAMI MARITIME LAW SPECIALIST

When it comes to maritime law, Attorney Tonya Meister is in a league of her own. She is an admiralty and maritime law expert who is board certified by The Florida Bar. Attorney Meister has served in many leadership positions, authored maritime scholarly materials, and lectured at numerous maritime law education programs. She is highly respected for her insight and experience in this area of law, and has made appearances on television programs in the United States and overseas speaking on topics related to maritime law. Attorney Meister has been recognized as a Florida Super Lawyer. Despite all of her accomplishments, she is most proud of helping individuals harmed by maritime incidents.

Attorney Meister has had a life-long fascination with the sea. She was an avid sailor, surfer, fisherwomen, swimmer and scuba diver, and also enjoys canoeing and kayaking. Ms. Meister is a NAUI dive master, trained rescue diver/swimmer, a successful former competitive sailor and captain of a sailing team. However, she found her calling to maritime law while serving as a crew member on a dive excursion passenger vessel while finishing college. She saw firsthand that seafarers and passengers had rights that need to be protected and respected while out at sea. She decided to combine the passion she had for law with her love for the ocean by attending law school to study maritime law. She also worked for an admiralty attorney while completing her coursework.

Upon admittance to The Florida Bar in 2003, Attorney Meister began working in maritime law at Morgan and Barbary, P.A. in Melbourne, Florida. She gained significant experience helping injured crewmembers, boaters and passengers recover the damages they deserved. She made headlines by helping recover unpaid wages and providing a way home for all of the crewmembers stranded on a bankrupt cruise ship.

Attorney Meister was then hired as a lawyer at Lipcon, Margulies, and Alsina, P.A. in Miami. During her time there, Ms. Meister gained extensive experience in a variety of maritime cases. She was privileged to submit an amicus brief on behalf of Port Ministries International to the United States Supreme Court in an important case to protect crew members. In this brief, she demonstrated the harsh and often unfair conditions that seafarers had to endure in order to perform their duties. The case, Atlantic Sounding Co. v. Townsend, was a landmark decision for seafarers’ rights, affirming the availability of punitive damages for seafarers who are willfully denied maintenance and cure benefits by their employers.

Throughout these experiences, Attorney. Meister saw the need for a quality law firm that understood and provided for the specific needs of injured boaters, crew members and passengers. Meister Law, LLC was formally incorporated in 2008 in order to fulfill this goal. She has since continued to advocate for the protection and expansion of the legal rights of individuals.  She represents clients from around the world and provides her expertise to help them navigate for justice.

Attorney Meister has served in a variety of leadership positions in the maritime legal field, including as chair of American Association of Justice’s Admiralty Law Section; chair of The Florida Bar’s Admiralty Law Committee; and vice chair of Florida Admiralty Trial Lawyers Association.  She serves on Admiralty Certification Committee of The Florida Bar.  Dedicated to legal ethics, she also served as chair of the 11F Grievance Committee of the Florida Bar.

She has served as legal counsel for Port Ministries International.  She is on the Advisory Board of the International Seafarer’s Ministry of Miami and the Space Coast Seafarers Ministry.  She has represented crewmembers on behalf of the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF).

Attorney Meister has presented seminars on various maritime topics including Update on the Eleventh, Eighth, Seventh and Sixth Circuits for a Southeastern Admiralty Law Institute; Update on Crew Injury Claims for The Florida Bar Admiralty and Maritime Law Section; Cruise Ship Law for The Florida Bar Admiralty and Maritime Law Section; Crew Arbitration for The Florida Bar Admiralty and Maritime Law Section; Forum Non Conveniens for the American Trial Lawyers Association (now American Justice Association); Punitive Damages in Maritime Law Claims for the American Justice Association; Personal Injury and Wrongful Death of Passengers for the Florida Bar Admiralty and Maritime Law Section; and Causes of Action Under Bahamian and Panamanian Law in Seafarer Arbitrations and the Maritime Labor Convention for the Florida Bar Admirality and Maritime Section Law Section. She has taught classes and/or given presentations at St. Thomas Law School, University of Miami Law School and Florida International University. Mrs. Meister served on the Alumni Board of Directors for Barry University.

Attorney Meister published a law review article Punitive Damages Update:  Jones Act, Maintenance and Cure, and General Maritime Law for the University of San Francisco Maritime Law Journal. She is co-author of the chapter on Personal Injury and Wrongful Death of Passenger in the Florida Maritime Law and Practice book published by The Florida Bar.

Bar admissions
  • All Florida state courts
  • U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida
  • U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida
  • U.S. Supreme Court
Education
  • Barry University School of Law, J.D., cum laude, 2002
  • Judicial Internship with Circuit Court Judge Vincent Torpy, Fall 2002
  • Member, Student Trial Advocacy Team
  • Advocate in three trial competitions. In the 2000 AFTL competition, team advanced to the semifinals.
  • Certified County Court Mediator and Mediation Internship at the Orange County Courthouse
  • Legislative proposal/legislative analysis submitted to Florida State Representative Haridopolos
  • University of Central Florida, B.A., Legal Studies, 1997
  • Dean's List, Spring–Fall 1995
  • Southern Illinois University, 1992–1994
  • Student Government Senator
  • Judicial Review Board
  • Delta Zeta Sorority
Professional experience
  • Meister Law, LLC, Miami, Florida
    • Attorney Owner, March 2009–present
    • Practicing admiralty and maritime law
  • Lipcon, Margulies & Alsina, P.A., Miami, Florida
    • Attorney, August 2005–February 2009
    • Practicing admiralty and maritime law
  • Morgan & Barbary, P.A., Melbourne, Florida
    • Attorney, April 2003–August 2005
    • Practicing in the areas of maritime, personal injury and social security disability law