Litigation funder IMF Bentham is partnering with Boies Schiller Flexner to direct $30 million in funding capital toward cross-border disputes with a connection to Vietnam.
California-based Boies Schiller partners Luan Tran and Quyen Ta, who both arrived in North America as child refugees from Vietnam, will work with Bentham to identify potential claims coming from the country’s booming economy, which grew over 7 percent in 2018.
“There’s a lot of infrastructure that is being built: airports, buildings, oil and gas,” Ta said. “Inevitably, with infrastructure that is high net worth, you’ll see disputes.”
Both Ta and Tran are relatively new to Boies Schiller. Ta joined the firm in Northern California in January 2018 from Keker, Van Nest & Peters, and Tran followed in October. Now based in Los Angeles and Palo Alto, Tran previously spent two years in Singapore working for leading Vietnamese firm YKVN, and was an early member of the international arbitration practice at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan.
“He told me, ‘Why are we not working together? We’re the only two Vietnamese-American lawyers in the country who have first chair experience handling complex commercial disputes,’” Ta said.
Tran had worked with Bentham in the past, with its U.S. division successfully funding a matter that resolved in 2016, and the litigation funder had also collaborated with Boies Schiller.
“Clients appreciate that they can come to BSF for their Southeast Asian disputes, be able to retain experienced trial lawyers like me and Luan who are culturally and linguistically competent, and have access to a reputable litigation funding source,” Tran said in a statement.
“We have a good deal of comfort with the people and the law firm,” said Allison Chock, Bentham’s chief investment officer for the U.S. “Vietnam is a particularly hot market, with tariffs and the trade war with China throwing off investment elsewhere.”
Ta said she anticipated the financing from Bentham to yield matters that would be adjudicated through international arbitration as well as litigation. She noted that Singapore has recently opened the doors to third-party finance in international arbitration, while California now lets out-of-state attorneys handle arbitration in the state.
In July 2018, Bentham unveiled a similar $30 million arrangement with Kobre & Kim focused on cross-border disputes rooted in Israel.
“That experience was a very positive one for us as well as Kobre & Kim,” Chock said, adding that Bentham is also eyeing another collaboration focused on a wider geographical region but a more targeted practice area.
“Being able to tie up a strong U.S. firm with our folks in Asia is really unique,” she added. “I don’t think there’s another litigation finance company that can really do that.”
Ta at Boies Schiller also sees room for more of these collaborative efforts between law firms who offer particular regional expertise and litigation funders, noting how she and Tran have both succeeded in using their language skills and distinct backgrounds to build expertise in a unique niche.
“We can bring our skills to bear in a way that is not only inventive but lucrative and engaging,” she said, adding that she hopes additional diverse attorneys in Big Law will also look for similar opportunities in emerging markets.
“There are others for whom this will be an option in the future,” she said.