Julian H. Singman, 56, the Washington lawyer whose body was found March 4 in a coastal creek near Savannah, Ga., was an authority on maritime regulations and was the president of the Maritime Institute for Research and Industrial Development here.

Police in Chatham County, Ga., said Mr. Singman's body had four bullet wounds in the torso and that Furman Clark Jr., 36, who was wanted in North Carolina on bad check and larceny charges, had been arrested and charged in the case. Although circumstances surrounding the death apparently were unclear, police said Mr. Singman wanted to sell his 56-foot yacht and had been introduced to the suspect as a prospective buyer.

The maritime institute Mr. Singman headed is a lobbying organization and represents member companies from all phases of the shipping industry, domestic and deep-sea. It was founded in 1980 and Mr. Singman had been the head of it since then.

Mr. Singman was born in Washington and graduated from Roosevelt High School. He served in the Army for two years just after World War II and then went to George Washington University. He earned a law degree at Harvard University and also studied at Georgetown and Oxford universities.

From 1956 to 1961, he was associate chief counsel of the antitrust subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee. He specialized in maritime matters and this became one of his principal professional interests. From 1961 to 1962, he was deputy administrator of the U.S. Maritime Administration.

From 1962 to 1982, he was a partner in the law firm of Landis, Cohen, Singman & Rauh. Since 1983, he had been a counsel to the firm, which is now called Landis, Cohen, Rauh & Zelenko. From 1965 to 1980, Mr. Singman was the Washington counsel for the International Organization of Masters, Mates and Pilots AFL-CIO. From 1973 to 1980, he was legal consultant to the International Transport Workers' Federation.

Mr. Singman was a member of the D.C., federal and American bar associations, the National Maritime Council, the United States Power Squadron and the Capital Yacht Club, where he lived on his boat.

Survivors include a brother, Henry D. Singman of Silver Spring.