Image: Donald Abaunza
Donald R. "Don" Abaunza
Of Counsel, New Orleans
Hancock Whitney Center
701 Poydras Street
Suite 5000
New Orleans, Louisiana 70139


A past president and managing partner of Liskow & Lewis, Don Abaunza has nearly 50 years of experience representing clients in admiralty, energy and commercial law. His practice includes trials, contract negotiations, and arbitrations. Don has served as lead trial counsel in cases involving maritime issues, products liability, oil and gas casualty matters, contract disputes, pipeline accidents, construction litigation, and insurance matters. His extensive experience also includes drafting contracts involving offshore drilling, vessel construction.

In a Chambers USA listing, a peer commented, “Donald Abaunza has a stellar reputation for the depth of his reputation in handling civil disputes. He offers particular expertise in major energy and admiralty cases, including acting for oil and gas clients in land contamination litigation.”

Don has long been recognized for his leadership, strategic guidance and professionalism. In addition to leading Liskow & Lewis as Managing Partner for 8 years, Don was named one of the top ten attorneys in Louisiana and has been recognized as a leader in the profession in Chambers USA, The Best Lawyers in America, and Louisiana Super Lawyers.

Don was inducted as a Fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers in 1994. He has been listed in Who's Who of the World for more than 20 years. He taught a trial advocacy course at Tulane University Law School for 10 years. In 2008, he was awarded the Distinguished Maritime Attorney Award from the New Orleans Bar Association, and The Best Lawyers in America selected him as the Distinguished Admiralty Lawyer of the Year.

Some of his most notable experience in litigation includes:

  • Defending a company in a case involving an accident in the Philippines which resulted in over 4,000 deaths. The case is still pending.
  • Representing defendants in the Piper Alpha disaster in the North Sea and the Ocean Ranger incident in Canada.
  • Trial counsel in a significant case involving an alleged contamination by oil and gas operations.
  • Counsel in a case involving offshore damages in a hurricane.

Don also has extensive experience as an arbitrator as well as counsel for parties in arbitration matters. He has served as arbitrator in disputes involving marine casualties, commercial contract disputes, and vessel construction.

Don is a frequent speaker at meetings of oil and gas trade associations, law schools, bar associations, defense counsel groups and corporate managers on energy subjects, litigation issues, arbitration, ethics, and insurance-related matters.



  • American College of Trial Lawyers – Fellow since 1994
  • Tulane Maritime Law Center – Planning Committee
  • Tulane University – Adjunct Associate Professor of Law, 1981–1989
  • Maritime Law Association of the U.S. – Proctor
  • New Orleans, Louisiana State, American and Federal Bar Associations – Member
  • Louisiana State Bar Association – House of Delegates


  • Trinity Episcopal School – Former Member of Board of Trustees
  • Tulane Inn of Court – Master of the Bench


  • New Orleans Magazine's List of "Top Lawyers," 2017 - 2018

  • BTI Client Service All-Star, 2017  

  • Recipient of New Orleans Bar Association 2008 Distinguished Maritime Lawyer Award

  • Chambers USA America’s Leading Lawyers for Business - Litigation: General Commercial, 2005–2018

  • The Best Lawyers in America, selected for inclusion for at least 20 years

  • New Orleans "Best Lawyers 2011 Maritime Lawyer of the Year"

  • New Orleans CityBusiness Leadership in Law Award, 2005

  • Listed in Louisiana Life as Top 10 Louisiana Lawyer

  • Louisiana Super Lawyers, 2007–2022

  • Louisiana State Bar Association President’s Award

  • Who’s Who of the World – Listed for more than 20 years

Donald R. Abaunza
Rated by Super Lawyers

loading ...



Best Lawyers Award Badge


  • "Indemnity & Insurance Issues in Offshore Service Contracts: Do We Need to Rethink the Approach to Risk Allocation," Institute for Energy Law, 2010
  • "Force Majeure: The Future Look of Offshore Contracts," Liskow & Lewis Oilfield, Maritime & Indemnity Seminar, 2010
  • "Opening Statements by the Masters," Louisiana State Bar Association, 2009
  • “Crisis or Casualty Response, Investigation & Management”, Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation, 2008
  • “Ethics and Professionalism in the Legal, Business, Political, and Judicial Professions,” GNOBFA River and Marine Industries Seminar, 2008
  • “Ethics – Lawyer Advertising: New Rules and New Issues,” Louisiana State Bar Association, 2007
  • “Katrina and Rita: What Have You Wrought,” LSU, Mineral Law Institute, 2006
  • “The Oil Pollution Act of 1990 – Potential Liabilities and Expenses That may be Recovered,” Liskow & Lewis Environmental Seminar, 2006
  • “Crisis Management Panel: There’s Been an Accident”, South Texas College of Law, 2005
  • “Risk Management in Accommodation Agreements,” The Center for American and International Law, 2005
  • “There’s Been an Accident! – Get the Contracts, Find Out What Happened, and Let’s Get Ready for Litigation,” Liskow & Lewis Oilfield Indemnity and Insurance Seminar, 2004
  • “Legal Ethics – Update on the 2004 Amendments to the Louisiana Rules of Professional Conduct,” Lorman Seminar, 2004
  • “The Unrepresented/Troublesome Party,” AAA Neutrals, 2004
  • “The Ethical Conflicts of Negotiations in Litigation and ADR,” Tulane Law School, 2003
  • “Marine Insurance Handbook, Volume I -  Hull and P&I -  The Protection and Indemnity and Hull Insurance Policies,” GNOBFA, 2003
  • “Foreign Litigants in U.S. Courts: Forum Non Conveniens and Proof of Foreign Law,” SEALI, 2001
  • “Alien Tort Statute: Subject Matter Jurisdiction and a Cause of Action in United States Courts for Suits by Aliens Alleging Torts in Violation of the Law of Nations [Jurisdiction of U.S. Courts Over Conduct of Corporate America on Foreign Soil],” Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Institute, 2001
  • “Managing Partners Panel Discussion,” LADC/TADC Joint Program, Law Office Management Seminar, 2000
  • “Enforceability of Forum Selection, Choice of Law, and Arbitration Clauses (Cross-Border Legal Issues Affecting U.S. Flagged Exploration and Production Installations on Canada’s East Coast),” Canadian Petroleum Law Foundation, 2000
  • “Masters of the Courtroom, Professionalism and Dealing with Unreasonable Clients,"  New Orleans Bar Association, 2000
  • “Frequently Encountered Ethical Problems,” NOBA Procrastinators’ Program, 1999
  • “Remedies Against Foreign Vessels Causing Damage in United States Waters: Arrest and Attachment,” GNOBFA River Marine Industries Seminar, 1999
  • “Privileged Or Not,” Tulane Inn of Court Ethics/House Counsel, 1999
  • “Ethics,” Panel Discussion, Attorney/Client Seminar of the LADC, 1999
  • “Contractual Indemnity and Insurance Issues: The Basics,” Oil, Gas and Mineral Law Section of Houston Bar, Anti-Indemnity Laws in Texas and Louisiana Oilfield, 1998
  • “New Frontiers-Indemnity and Insurance Issues in Deep Water and International Contracts,” Liskow & Lewis Oilfield Indemnity and Insurance Seminar, 1998
  • “Contractual Indemnity and Insurance Issues: The Basics,” Oil, Gas and Mineral Law Section of Houston Bar, Insurance Issues/Texas-Louisiana Oilfield, 1998
  • “Insurance Aspects Before and After ‘the Deal’ Closes,” Sonat Inc. Law Camp, 1996
  • “Contractual Allocation of Risk,” Strategic Research Institute, 1996
  • “Obtaining Indemnity Protection and Enforcing Insurance Coverage,” 18th Annual Corporate Counsel Institute, 1996
  • “Risk Allocation,” Business Risk Management Overview, Energy Week, 1996

After Hours

“I am the proud grandfather of a terrific little boy. I enjoy tennis, travel, fishing and riding my tractor. I hope to engage my grandson in many activities, especially the outdoor activities at our farm in Mississippi.”