Litigation funders are setting up shop in the nation's capital

REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
  • Omni Bridgeway, Validity Finance have opened new Washington, D.C., offices this year
  • Funders hire lawyers from Alston & Bird, Greenberg Traurig

(Reuters) - Validity Finance LLC on Thursday became the second major litigation funder to expand to Washington, D.C., this year with an attorney from a large law firm spearheading the effort.

Validity said in a statement it is launching in Washington with Greenberg Traurig international disputes lawyer Nicole Silver, about two months after large funder Omni Bridgeway Ltd opened in the capital city with former Alston & Bird commercial and antitrust litigator Jason Levine.

Omni Bridgeway is publicly listed on the Australian Securities Exchange. It was previously known as Bentham IMF in the U.S. before a 2019 merger.

Litigation finance firms fund a case or portfolio of cases in exchange for a cut of any financial recoveries. The practice has grown in the U.S. in recent years, with many funders operating out of the financial centers of New York and Chicago.

Leaders at both Omni Bridgeway and Validity said opportunities in the Washington legal market, including international disputes and antitrust cases, made the city attractive.

"We've always had a lot of business coming out of D.C., but it seemed to be increasing almost exponentially," said Jim Batson, a managing director and co-chief investment officer in the U.S. at Omni Bridgeway.

The funder's February launch in Washington came amid an uptick in antitrust litigation, said Levine.

He said the company saw Washington as a "largely untapped market for our business," with "very little presence" from other funders.

Validity, a newer shop, was founded with backing from private equity firm TowerBrook Capital Partners LP in 2018.

Laina Hammond, managing director and senior investment manager who runs Validity's Houston office, said having an on-the-ground presence in Washington will let the company strengthen relationships with lawyers in the region.

"We expect that will lead to a flow of great funding opportunities," she said.

Greenberg Traurig did not immediately comment on Silver's departure.

Validity on Thursday also said Bert Rein, a founding partner of Washington law firm Wiley Rein, will be a senior advisor.

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Sara Merken reports on privacy and data security, as well as the business of law, including legal innovation and key players in the legal services industry. Reach her at sara.merken@thomsonreuters.com