John Garda, managing director of Longford Capital John Garda, managing director of Longford Capital. Courtesy photo.

Litigation funding is coming to Dallas.

Longford Capital has hired John Garda, most recently the managing partner of K&L Gates’ Dallas office, as a managing director. The hire, expected to be announced Tuesday, marks the litigation finance company’s first expansion outside of Chicago, where it was founded in 2013.

While Big Law partners have been joining litigation finance firms for years, Longford said Garda would be the first hire of a Big Law partner in Dallas by a major funding firm. Large litigation funders that do not list employees in Dallas include Burford Capital, the largest funder by assets under management, as well as Validity Finance, Bentham, Parabellum Capital and Lake Whillans Capital.

Longford’s William Farrell Jr. said the company was attracted to Dallas as a slew of major law firms, including Winston & Strawn, Dorsey & Whitney and Katten Muchin Rosenman, have opened offices in the city in the past two years. More broadly, Texas has been one of the most desirable states among Am Law 100 firms in recent years to launch offices or expand.

“The Dallas legal market and the Texas legal market is really thriving,” said Farrell, managing director and general counsel at Longford. “Lots of domestic and non-U.S. companies are establishing a presence in Dallas. Some are setting up global corporate headquarters in Dallas. As a consequence, the Am Law 100 have been following suit.”

In an interview about his decision to join the company, Garda said he has represented Longford in corporate matters since the funder’s inception. Garda, expected to join Longford on May 1, was a Notre Dame Law School classmate of Farrell.

While he has likely been privy to inside information about the financial health of Longford, Garda declined to comment when asked if his new job would come with a pay raise. K&L Gates last year recorded average profits per equity partner of $990,000, according to preliminary data from The American Lawyer.

“I’ve been able to understand the industry through representing Longford, [and] I am a believer in the industry,” Garda said. “It is growing. You could see the product demand continuing to increase. It started with smaller companies in need of capital, but it has grown significantly to law firms needing the offering or wanting the offering to balance out cash flow.”

Longford in 2017 raised a $500 million litigation finance fund. The company said in August that it had spent about two-thirds of that fund when it announced a $67 million portfolio funding agreement with an unknown law firm.