Legal finance trade group brings in new leader as ILFA hits one-year mark
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(Reuters) - The International Legal Finance Association has brought in former U.S. Department of Justice official Gary Barnett to be executive director and general counsel of the trade group, which launched last year with several big names in the litigation funding industry.
The global trade association announced Barnett's appointment to the new combined role on Thursday, almost exactly one year after Burford Capital, Longford Capital, Harbour Litigation Funding, Omni Bridgeway, Therium Capital Management and Woodsford Litigation Funding came together as the group's founding members.
Until now, Shannon Campagna was the trade group's executive director. Leslie Perrin, chairman of London-based Calunius Capital, serves as chair.
Barnett most recently worked in the U.S. attorney general's office as senior counselor to the attorney general, a role he said he left at the end of last year. He also previously served as acting director in the Office of Victims of Crime and acting chief of staff to former attorney general Matt Whitaker. Before joining the Justice Department Barnett worked in the U.S. Senate, according to the trade group. He is based in Washington, D.C.
Barnett will officially start in the position on Monday, in what he described as a "really exciting burgeoning industry." He said sees his new role as managing and serving the group's members and educating the public about "what commercial legal finance is [and] what commercial legal finance is not."
The litigation funding industry has faced criticism, particularly from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and others that have pushed for more disclosure of funding deals.
Litigation funders provide capital in various forms to businesses, law firms and individuals involved in litigation and arbitration. The industry and practice has grown globally and in the U.S. over the past decade, with new shops popping up or expanding in the last few years.
ILFA now has 14 commercial legal finance members and is open to more. Perrin said the group wants to extend its network beyond those in the legal finance industry itself to "people who depend on the business of legal finance," such as law firms, brokers and insurance carriers, which could potentially join as associate members.
Perrin said the timing of last year's founding came at a good moment.
"I think we chose a very good time to launch because all sorts of circumstances have come to bear right across the world," Perrin said.
ILFA has weighed in over the past year on several challenges, including an inquiry into the industry by the Australian Parliament, proposed reforms by the United Nations Commission On International Trade Law and a new disclosure rule in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey.
"Right across the spectrum of our global interests, there are people trying to undermine the contribution that legal finance makes to the rule of law. And we just got there in time," he said.
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