John McLaughlin


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John McLaughlin became a partner with the firm in 1976. He provides a unique perspective and passion in admiralty law, thanks to both his education and experience. Prior to passing the Bar, John earned a degree in marine engineering at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy and worked as an engineer for several years before returning to his Washington, D.C. birthplace and joining the U.S. Department of Commerce as a Patent Examiner. Upon graduation from The National Law Center at George Washington University, he worked as an attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice, Admiralty and Shipping Section.

John’s special area of practice is reflected in many of his professional activities, including leadership positions on admiralty and maritime law committees of both the American Bar Association and The Florida Bar, as well as membership in the Maritime Law Association of the United States. He is also a Diplomat of the Southeastern Admiralty Law Institute. John is a former member of the Board of Directors of the S.S. American Victory, a victory ship with an historical museum dedicated to merchant seamen.

John is a member of the prestigious American College of Trial Lawyers and has been listed in “Florida Legal Elite” and “Florida Super Lawyer.” A sustaining member of the American Association for Justice and the Florida Justice Association, he helped found Trial Lawyers for Public Justice, a national public interest law firm, and is a member of the American Board of Trial Advocates and a past president of its Tampa Bay Chapter. By appointment of the Florida Governor, John has served on 13th Judicial Circuit’s Judicial Nominating Committee, as well as the 13th Judicial Circuit’s Grievance Committee.

John is a frequent lecturer, having authored many articles on maritime law, automobile liability, and insurance law. Two of John’s sons, Kevin and Michael, practice with him as his partners.

Florida Maritime Attorney John McLaughlin at Wagner, McLaughlin & Whittemore was interviewed by Steve Andrews of Channel 8 News regarding the year-long Coast Guard investigation of the Pass-A-Grille Spring Break drowning. Read or view the interview here:


  • First licensed as an Engineering Officer by the U.S. Coast Guard in 1960 — ‘Steam or Diesel, Any Tonnage’
  • Earned B.S. in marine engineering at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in 1964
  • Graduated with honors from the George Washington University College of Law in 1971
  • Admitted to the District of Columbia Bar in 1971 and The Florida Bar in 1975
  • Admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court in 1975
  • Admitted to practice before the United States Court of Appeals for the 10th, 11th, and District of Columbia Circuits
  • Sustaining member, American Association for Justice
  • Sustaining member, Florida Justice Association
  • Founder, Trial Lawyers for Public Justice
  • Advocate, American Board of Trial Advocacy
  • Board Certified Civil Trial Lawyer, The Florida Bar
  • Certified Civil Trial Advocate, National Board of Trial Advocacy
  • Lecturer, Automobile Liability and Insurance Law
  • ‘AV’ Rating by Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory
  • Listed in Best Lawyers in America