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The business of litigation finance is booming

“There are new players in the market, and existing players are getting bigger.”

Speaking of cheer, there’s plenty of it at Burford Capital, the titan of litigation finance. Its new investments in courtroom combat totaled $378 million in 2016, up 83 percent. There’s no reliable measure of the overall size of the litigation finance market, but Burford alone has more than $2 billion in capital invested or available to be invested, according to the firm’s chief executive, Christopher Bogart. “There are new players in the market, and existing players are getting bigger,” he says.

New York-based Burford is doing deals that resemble the Pravati-Pierce Sergenian arrangement, only on a much larger scale and generally with the recipients remaining anonymous. Currently, Burford has a $100 million investment in a global law firm’s portfolio of commercial litigation and a $50 million investment in another large firm’s arbitration cases. Burford has also invested $45 million to fuel the litigation efforts of a single corporation, British Telecommunications, whose identity leaked to the legal trade press.

Burford’s investments show that litigation finance is not necessarily the Robin Hood affair that Pierce Sergenian advertises. “Corporate law departments and their law firms increasingly want to finance their litigation, just as other parts of the corporation finance their activities,” says Bogart.

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