Ralph Sutton, former CIO of Bentham IMF.
Ralph Sutton, former CIO of Bentham IMF. (Courtesy photo)

Australia-based litigation funder Bentham IMF has replaced its chief investment officer in charge of U.S. operations.

In a press release, Bentham said CIO Ralph Sutton has left the company to “pursue other ventures.” The company named Allison Chock as his replacement, making Bentham the first major litigation funder with a woman at the helm of domestic operations. Chock has led Bentham’s Los Angeles office since 2013.

Allison Chock, the new CIO of Bentham IMF.

In an interview on Friday, Sutton said he left the company voluntarily and announced his departure to Bentham two weeks ago. His last day was May 1, he said.

Sutton said he had different views from Bentham on the future of the litigation finance industry and where opportunities would lie. He said he plans to start a new company related to litigation funding but would not provide specifics, saying only that it was “unlikely” to be a broker model.

“This is really a perfect storm moment in terms of interest, acceptance and sophistication of the market,” said Sutton, who has been involved in the litigation finance in various roles since 2006. “I’m ready to explore new models and new opportunities.”

Chock will remain in Los Angeles, although Bentham’s U.S. headquarters are in New York, she said in an interview Friday. She said she hopes to grow the company from 16 people to 20 by year-end.

Related article: Who Rules the World of Litigation Funding?

The naming of Chock to lead Bentham’s U.S. operations changes the face of a male-dominated industry. Bentham’s CIO in charge of Canada is Tania Sulan, and Chock said in the interview that naming another woman in a top leadership position “shows a remarkable and unusual sense of fairness” in the sector.

Chock started her career as a litigation associate at Latham & Watkins and in 2003 joined Hennigan, Bennett & Dorman, which later became McKool Smith Hennigan after a merger. She joined Bentham in 2013 to become the head of its Los Angeles office.

Charlie Gollow, chief executive for the U.S. at Bentham’s Australian parent company, said in a statement: “We continue to see increasing demand for litigation funding across the U.S. market. Allison is well-equipped to oversee the company’s assessment of investment opportunities as we meet this demand with larger scale, more frequent investments in individual cases and law firm portfolios.”

Sutton had led Bentham’s U.S. operations since they launched in 2011, opening offices in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Houston. He also helped oversee a deal with Fortress Investment Group LLC to create a fund that could reach up to $200 million.

Sutton said that he was proud of how Bentham’s U.S. operations had grown. “It is with mixed feelings that I leave that team.”

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