The figures just get bigger and bigger. Call it the litigation funding industry’s law of large numbers.
Longford Capital Management LP announced Monday the latest headline figure, $500 million, which is how much the Chicago-based firm raised from investors for a second fund that will dwarf the initial $56.5 million fund that it raised three years ago.
Longford said it had already invested $100 million of the new fund, which it has three years to spend backing plaintiffs in antitrust litigation, commercial cases and intellectual property disputes. In a sign of the investor communities’ growing acceptance of litigation funding, Longford’s second fund pulled from 195 investors, compared with 34 for its first fund, according to corporate disclosure documents.
The largest funder in the industry, Burford Capital Ltd., said in late July that it had deployed a record $488 million in new investments for the first half of the year. The publicly traded firm, whose stock price has nearly tripled in the past year, announced in May that it had raised £175 million through a corporate bond issue. (In July, Scotland’s Shepherd and Wedderburn became the first law firm in the U.K. to secure a portfolio financing agreement with Burford.)
As the litigation finance industry matures, it has become easier to find investors. Many of the investors in Longford’s second fund reached out to the firm about putting money into it, something that never happened during Longford’s first fundraising round, said managing director and general counsel William Farrell Jr., a former partner at Chicago-based Neal, Gerber & Eisenberg.
“In the first fund, there was a very steep education process,” Farrell said. “We approached potential investors, and in almost every instance we were introducing them to this emerging asset class. They’d never heard of it before.”
In June, Longford recruited Paul Hastings of counsel Marc Carmel in Chicago to help it break into the bankruptcy arena. That move followed the firm’s recruitment of Nixon Peabody IP litigation leader Russell Genet in February and expansion into the Bay Area late last year.
Therium Inc.—the U.S. arm of U.K. litigation financier Therium Group Holdings Ltd.—has hired two former Proskauer Rose partners within the previous year. Last month, London-based Vannin Capital opened in New York City with lawyers from Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer, Dentons and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer. Burford, which last week hired a new general counsel, has also hired from a large number of prestigious firms.
Most expect more growth in the industry.
A recent survey commissioned by Burford states that 72 percent of respondents from law firms and corporate departments in Australia, U.K. and U.S. see litigation finance as “a growing and increasingly important area of the business of law.” Among law firm respondents whose firms had not yet used litigation finance, 57 percent said they were likely to consider it in the next two years.
Longford also announced a five-member advisory board comprised of well-known investors including Edward Liddy, the former CEO of The Allstate Corp. and American International Group Inc.; and Jeffrey Vinik, a former manager of the $50 billion Fidelity Magellan Fund and current owner of the National Hockey League’s Tampa Bay Lightning, who also has an interest in the ownership group behind Major League Baseball’s Boston Red Sox.
The other members of Longford’s advisory board are all founders of large asset managers or investment firms, including John Beirne Jr. of Beirne Wealth Consulting Services LLC; Michael Bills of Bluestem Asset Management LLC; and T. Bondurant French of Adams Street Partners LLC.
Perhaps more than any other funder, Longford has taken steps to publicly align itself with top talent from the investment community.
The firm made national headlines in 2014 when it named it named William “Bill” Strong as its chairman. Strong (pictured right) had been co-chief executive of Morgan Stanley & Co. LLC’s operations in the Asia-Pacific region.
“They’ve got the ability to give the rest of our investors a lot of comfort,” Farrell said of Longford’s five-member advisory board. “They’re really a wonderful team and an extension of our professional team that allows us to seek their advice as we grow Longford Capital.”