Erika Levin ()
Litigation funders in recent years have been busy snapping up Big Law partners to help evaluate cases and close deals.
A litigation boutique is now poised to make a hire in the other direction Tuesday by recruiting an executive from a litigation funding shop to help the firm evaluate and handle cases.
Lewis Baach Kaufmann Middlemiss has hired Erika Levin, a former Clifford Chance associate who most recently served as a senior vice president and general counsel at litigation funding firm The Judge, which earlier this year entered the U.S. legal services market. Lewis Baach is a 37-lawyer boutique with offices in Buenos Aires, London, New York and Washington, D.C.
In joining Lewis Baach, Levin is headed to a small firm that has welcomed litigation funding as a way to offer creative billing arrangements to clients. In August, Lewis Baach announced that it had signed a deal to receive up to $20 million in financing from Woodsford Litigation Funding Ltd., a U.K.-based shop that opened stateside in July and has long worked with Lewis Baach.
Levin said she is excited to return to the practice of law and saw Lewis Baach as a natural fit considering its use of litigation funding. In addition to representing clients as a partner at Lewis Baach, Levin will help the firm evaluate potential contingent fee cases that may be suitable for funding.
“This has become part of what we need to be offering to clients; finding a way and a mechanism that they can pay for representation,” Levin said. “What’s definitely apparent is clients are demanding different fee arrangements. They’re in the driver’s seat and it’s the firm’s prerogative to answer those demands.”
Born in Brazil, Levin had practiced in complex international litigation, commercial arbitration and business transactions. She left Clifford Chance in 2008 and eventually took an of counsel position at Stone & Magnanini, a Boies Schiller Flexner spin-off firm with offices in New York and New Jersey. After leaving Stone & Magnanini in 2014, Levin helped launch a firm, Sondahl Levin, before joining The Judge in September 2016.
Eric Lewis, a co-founding and senior partner at Lewis Baach, said he recruited Levin in part because of her skills as a lawyer and her understanding of the Latin American market, where the firm has been developing a practice. But her knowledge of litigation finance and the business of law was also important, Lewis said.
“Most lawyers have never seen a case they didn’t love,” said Lewis, a well-known international litigator. “But in addition to her legal skills, she really understood how the business of law was evolving and how to select cases that will be able to be handled well and efficiently.”
Levin marks the latest expansion of Lewis Baach’s New York office, which was launched in 2013 with the additions of now-name partners Adam Kaufmann and Arthur Middlemiss. Kaufmann and Middlemiss both held leadership positions in the New York County District Attorney’s Office, with Kaufmann serving as chief of the investigation division and Middlemiss leading a unit focused on white-collar crime in the international arena.
Levin will be the 14th lawyer practicing full-time in New York. The firm has another 21 lawyers in Washington, D.C., according to Lewis Baach’s website. “Erika will strengthen our practice and network internationally,” Kaufmann said in a statement. “Her experience in the business side of the law dovetails exceptionally well with our forward-thinking approach to resolving our clients’ legal issues.”
Levin’s addition at Lewis Baach comes the same week that U.K.-based litigation funder Vannin Capital, which opened a New York office in August, recruited three new advisers. Australia-based IMF Bentham Ltd., fresh off raising $115 million in new capital, also hired former Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft associate Ken Epstein to launch a bankruptcy funding platform.