INSIGHTS INTO LITIGATION FINANCE

Lake Whillans Investment Featured in MEDCITY News

Lee Drucker

An in depth article about a fabulous entrepreneur and promising cancer therapy almost derailed by impropriety. This was one of Lake Whillans’ first investments:

http://medcitynews.com/2015/03/entrepreneur-nearly-lost-company-heres-litigation-finance-helped-fight-back/

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Litigation Finance & Private Equity

Lee Drucker

About a month ago, I discussed the venture capital landscape, and why litigation funders are attractive partners for VCs and VC-backed companies in need of resources to adequately defend their businesses. A similar, but distinct, phenomenon exists in private equity.

Private equity firms (which invest in a broader class of companies and employ a wider array of value generating techniques than venture capital) share some common characteristics that make litigation finance a useful product within the industry.

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Delaware Decision on Work Product for Funding Documents

Lee Drucker

The Delaware Chancery Court handed down a favorable decision on work product protection for funding documents last week. Here are links to an article discussing the decision and the decision itself.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-03-04/litigation-finance-communications-protected-business-of-law

http://law.justia.com/cases/delaware/court-of-chancery/2015/ca-7841-vcp.html

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Cost of Capital in Litigation Funding

Lee Drucker

At Lake Whillans, I spend most of my time valuing litigation related assets. There are many considerations in this exercise, some of which I wrote about here.

Today, I am going to write about cost of capital, which is a key component in valuation. Aswath Damodaran recently wrote:
“If there were a contest for the most measured number in finance, the winner would be the cost of capital. Corporate finance departments around the world compute it as an integral part of investment analysis. Appraisers estimate it as a step towards estimating intrinsic or discounted cash flow value. Analysts spend disproportionate amounts of their time working on it, though not always for the right reasons or with the right inputs.”

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Above The Law Interview with Lake Whillans

Lee Drucker

We recently sat down with above the law to discuss how we found our selves in the legal claim finance business and answer some questions about the industry:

http://abovethelaw.com/2015/02/a-conversation-with-the-founders-of-lake-whillans-litigation-finance/

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Venture Capital & Litigation Finance

Lee Drucker

Venture capitalists invest in early stage growth companies, typically in high technology industries, such as biotechnology, energy, or IT. While many of these investments go on to become Tesla, Amazon, or the next life-saving pharmaceutical, about 65% of venture financings return 0-1x. Many of these investments fail simply by virtue of the high-risk nature of…

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Lake Whillans Featured in Crain’s New York

Lee Drucker

Lake Whillans was recently featured in an article in Crain’s New York on the role of litigation finance in helping small and mid-size companies to receive justice when victimized by larger companies. Link to the article after the jump.

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Opportunities for Entrepreneurial Litigators in Biglaw

Lee Drucker

The so-called rainmakers in biglaw firms throughout the country have traditionally built high-end business litigation practices by cultivating relationships with the largest corporations and their general counsel, clients that generally were less financially constrained and thus more likely to accept the hourly rate billing structure over the long course of complex litigation. With the advent of litigation finance, and firms such as Lake Whillans, entrepreneurial litigators at large firms have a new path to building sustainable high-end litigation business that is attractive to biglaw firms. Rather than the more traditional focus on companies with relatively unconstrained litigation budgets and strong balance sheets, entrepreneurial litigators at large firms have begun to realize that litigation financing affords them the opportunity to build practices by targeting companies with often severe financial constraints but meritorious claims, often against larger companies, requiring complex and expensive litigation. Lawyers in biglaw that have had experience in third party funded cases find that litigation finance can overcome the common practical constraints that have made biglaw often resistant to contingency fee arrangements, reduced or capped fees with success premiums.

Those constraints flow from a number of challenges facing large law firms:

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Portfolios of Legal Claims

Lee Drucker

In our last post we discussed the analysis a CFO might undertake when considering whether to raise capital for a litigation. We touched upon the fact that many companies do not have a portfolio of litigation – a fact which makes it difficult to mitigate the risk of investing in a legal claim. Today, we will focus on that insight and dive more deeply into idiosyncratic risk and the value of diversification.

Generally speaking, an investor must be compensated for the time value of money and risk. The risk that an investor must be compensated for is the risk that the return on an asset will be lower than the expected return. While any investment in a litigation has substantial risk, the vast majority of that risk is what would be termed in modern portfolio theory as “idiosyncratic risk.” Idiosyncratic risk is asset-specific risk that has little or no correlation with the market. This risk can therefore be substantially mitigated or eliminated through adequate diversification. By contrast, “systematic risk” (in modern portfolio theory parlance) is risk that is inherent to the entire market or an entire market segment, and cannot be mitigated through diversification. To illustrate the difference between these two types of risk, idiosyncratic risk manifests if a company suffers a major factory closure due to a natural disaster (in which case the price of its stock will likely decline while the rest of the market remains unaffected) while systematic risk manifests if the global economy slows down (in which case the price of a company’s stock will likely decline, but so will the price of the larger market).

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The best way for companies and their counsel to determine if litigation finance is an attractive option is to discuss it with us.