Making Millions Betting on Lawsuits—How Litigation Finance Works

Feb. 3, 2020, 1:17 PM

Litigation finance has become a multi-billion-dollar industry that is drawing the attention of the country’s largest law firms. In a new video, Bloomberg Law’s Roy Strom explains how the business of betting on lawsuits has grown and what speed bumps are in its path.

Questions: The industry still has its skeptics. They argue that investors’ interests in lawsuits should be disclosed and they raise fears that the moneyed interests behind a case will exert control over a plaintiff’s decisions.

Answers: “Some level of disclosure will certainly become part of the regulatory landscape in the coming years,” Maya Steinitz, a University of Iowa professor, tells Bloomberg Law. See the video here.

Industry analysts agree the projected $85 billion number recently put forward as the “addressable market” for litigation finance is much too high, but offer no overall consensus.


Business of Law

Ogletree Deakins, Female Lawyer Tell Court Sex Bias Suit Dropped
Ogletree Deakins and a female attorney who in 2018 hit the firm with a proposed $300 million sex bias class action told the Central District of California she has agreed to dismiss her remaining claims.

Boies Schiller Partners Wolosky, Smalls Depart to Jenner & Block
Lee Wolosky, a former U.S. ambassador and an influential Boies Schiller Flexner partner, has left the firm to join Jenner & Block. Dawn Smalls, who served in the Obama and Clinton administrations, also left her position as a partner at David Boies’ law firm to join the Chicago-founded Jenner & Block.

Sedgwick Bankruptcy Plan OK’d, 47 Partners to Pay $1.9 Million
A group of 47 former Sedgwick partners will soon pay $1.9 million of their former compensation and capital payments to settle claims that were part of a bankruptcy plan accepted by a federal judge.

LeClairRyan Trustee Taps Foley & Lardner as Special Counsel
The Chapter 7 trustee for defunct law firm LeClairRyan is asking a federal court to allow her to retain Foley & Lardner as special counsel to investigate and pursue claims on behalf of the bankruptcy estate.

In-House Counsel

Former Top GitLab Lawyer Fired as Company Moves Towards IPO
GitLab Inc. earlier this month fired a top lawyer linked to its former compliance chief, who left the company claiming “discriminatory and retaliatory behavior.”

Legal Tech

PACER Fee Battle Pits Nonprofits, Supporters Against Government
Three nonprofits will ask the Federal Circuit next week to consider a Goldilocks question: whether fees the government charges to access court records are too high, too low, or just right.


Wisconsin Judicial Official Gets Reprimand for Not Recusing
A Wisconsin circuit court commissioner received a public reprimand by the state supreme court for presiding over cases of a close personal friend and for addressing a defendant in a case with anger and sarcasm.

Arizona Takes Next Step Toward Scrapping Law Firm Ownership Rule
Arizona officials have taken the next step toward becoming the first state to scrap law firm ownership rules in an effort to increase access to justice.

Washington Prosecutor’s Office Disqualified in Murder Case
An entire county prosecutor’s office must be disqualified in most Washington state cases where the elected prosecutor who leads the office has previously represented a criminal defendant in the same case or a related one, the Washington Supreme Court said in a murder case.

Supreme Court

Clarence Thomas in Spotlight Like Few Other Justices
A newly released Clarence Thomas documentary nudges the Supreme Court justice further into the public spotlight where few of his colleagues past and present have ever ventured.

Also in the News

N.Y. Bar Association Says State Should Legalize Pot
The New York State Bar Association’s policy-making body approved a report from its Committee on Cannabis Law outlining recommendations for legalizing adult use cannabis in the state, and providing suggested implementation strategies, according to a news release.


Big Law Firms Help Chinese Shipper Get U.S. Sanctions Lifted
In today’s column, Mayer Brown grabbed a top energy partner from Locke Lord in Houston; legal services marketplace UpCounsel is reported to be shutting down; and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg says law firms aren’t doing enough to accommodate female lawyers who are also raising children.

Correction: The Jan. 30 email incorrectly stated Morrison & Foerster’s 2019 revenue number. The firm reported $1.15 billion in revenues.


INSIGHT: Why Are Supreme Court Justices Registered as Democrats and Republicans?
Most U.S. Supreme Court justices are registered with a political party. But does that call into question their independence, especially in this election year? Gabe Roth, director of Fix the Court, discusses his group’s new research on the justices and suggests renouncing party affiliation would separate them from politicians.

INSIGHT: Economic Sanctions and Export Controls Update Q4 2019
The fourth quarter of 2019 included significant regulatory and policy developments related to economic sanctions and export controls. Kirkland & Ellis attorneys discuss these actions and what they may indicate about trends and takeaways in 2020.

INSIGHT: Blockchain Can Ease Costs From New Maritime Fuel Regulations
New maritime regulations requiring higher-grade fuel will increase sustainability and improve environmental conditions but will also increase shipping costs. ShipChain CEO John Monarch says blockchain can calm the waves of this disruption and help shippers go full steam ahead.

INSIGHT: Work Smarter With the Right Contract Management Software
Contracts in the digital age have many hidden, interrelated elements that attorneys must detect and understand. Parley Pro’s CEO Olga V. Mack offers five ways contract management software helps you work smarter by improving clarity, efficiency, and scalability.

INSIGHT: SEC Shareholder Proposal Muffles Main Street Voices
Investors who want better social, environmental, and governance practices in companies and believe in a strong investor voice should be concerned about the SEC’s proposed rule to amend the process for shareholder proposals to be included in a company’s proxy statement, writes Lisa Woll, CEO of US SIF. She says the rule will silence the small investor voice and is contrary to the SEC’s purpose of protecting investors.


Faegre Baker Daniels and Drinker Biddle & Reath merged on Feb. 1, becoming Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath (Faegre Drinker) | Proskauer Rose has named Daryn Grossman as its managing partner | Fisher Phillips’ Philadelphia office will relocate later this year to Philadelphia’s City Center, taking over the 12th floor in the Two Logan Square Building | Bradley recently promoted 19 firm attorneys to partner | Fox Rothschild has acquired Atlanta-based law boutique Kaufman Forman | Dentons has officially combined with Indianapolis-based firm Bingham Greenebaum Doll, and Pittsburgh-based firm Cohen & Grigsby |Lewis Brisbois recently established a Crisis Management Practice | Ogletree Deakins elected John Gerak, former managing shareholder of the firm’s Cleveland office, to the position of Managing Director, while Austin shareholder Shafeeqa Giarratani and San Francisco shareholder Greg Cheng have been elected to the Board of Directors | Ropes & Gray recently promoted six attorneys to counsel | Fenwick added 13 new partners to the firm | Sullivan & Worcester recently promoted Ron Ben-Bassat and Natalie S. Lederman (New York office), and Sharon G. Leifer and Avinash R. Rao (Boston office) to partner.

If you haven’t already, be sure to follow us on Twitter, Flipboard, LinkedIn, Reddit, and Facebook.

To contact the reporter on this story: Bruce Kaufman in Washington at bkaufman@bloomberglaw.com

To read more articles log in.

Learn more about a Bloomberg Law subscription.