Tell us about your role at Longford Capital, and what you typically handle?
Longford Capital is one of the largest litigation finance companies in the world, with over $1 billion in assets under management. Law firms or clients bring cases to us seeking to have us fund the attorneys’ fees and expenses necessary to litigate their case. In return, we receive a portion of proceeds generated from any judgment or settlement of the matter. Our investments are not loans—they are non-recourse in nature. That means we only get paid back if the case results in the generation of a monetary return. As a director at Longford Capital, my role is to source, evaluate, and monitor the cases in which we invest. Because I am a patent attorney, I manage a large number of our investments in intellectual property cases. One of the most notable investments that I manage is our funding of the patent enforcement campaign by the University of California, Santa Barbara, that is being handled by Seth Levy and Shawn Hansen at NP.
What is the most enjoyable aspect of your current role?
I spent 20 years litigating patent infringement cases throughout the United States before joining Longford Capital. Over that span of time, I met many lawyers all over the country. My current role provides me the opportunity to reconnect with all of these lawyers and find ways that I can now help them and their clients. I now have a great reason to rekindle relationships with people that I have not spoken with in years. Also, I’m a bit of a technology nerd. (I know that is shocking to hear from a patent lawyer!) In my current job, I get to see and evaluate a vast variety of cases involving many different types of technology, which can be very fascinating.
Are there any memorable experiences—such as a pro bono or client win—or colleagues from NP that made a significant impact on your career?
I began my legal career back in 1997. Since that very first day, I have worked continuously with three lawyers who are still at NP—Janet Garetto, Dan Burnham, and John Gatz. I have spent many a long night working with these three lawyers. We have traveled all over the United States and abroad. We have seen each other’s kids be born, grow up, and move on to college. Our spouses are friends. It has been a “long and winding road.” But each one of them has left an imprint on both my professional and personal life. I continue to work with each of them to this day. If any of you have not met or worked with any of them, then you are missing out. Find a way. They are excellent lawyers and even better people.
How has your experience at NP influenced the direction of your career?
While at NP, I spent part of my time as practice group leader of the IP Litigation practice group. In that role, I saw how many of our lawyers were finding excellent matters that could be pursued, but clients were struggling to fit expensive patent litigation into their budgets. Further, I saw how clients were foregoing the pursuit of valuable patent protection because of a limited patent prosecution budget. Some of these clients would inquire about alternative fee arrangements (AFAs), but there were always stumbling blocks in developing the details of the AFA. I began to develop an interest in the concept of litigation finance and how it can be used to solve two competing needs: (1) the client’s need to manage to a budget, and (2) the law firm’s need to recognize meaningful income.
What brought you to Longford Capital? Can you touch upon your career trajectory?
While I was leader of the IP Litigation practice group, two of the founders of Longford Capital, Michael Nicolas and William Farrell, reached out to me. They wanted to make a presentation on how NP could use litigation finance to help its clients. Over the course of several years, I worked with Mike and Bill to make presentations and meet with several of our lawyers and their clients. Longford became a client, and we performed case assessments for them. I developed a very strong relationship with Mike and Bill, and they asked me to join their team in 2017.
How do you plan on using NP Alumni to keep in touch with former colleagues?
As I have said, one of the most enjoyable aspects of my job is the opportunity it provides for me to reconnect with others—this includes reconnecting with former NP colleagues. NP is full of great lawyers who are great people. I always said that I would never leave NP for another law firm. I have many great friends who are either still at NP or have moved on to other opportunities. NP Alumni is a great resource to allow me to reconnect with former colleagues and find a way that we can work together once again. Now that I am in the financing world, I can provide a way to help my former colleagues provide value to their clients by helping them manage budgetary limitations that may be affecting their ability to enforce meritorious litigation.
Outside of your legal practice, what do you like to do in your free time?
I am an avid golfer and try to play as often as I can, although I think my handicap index indicates that I need to play more golf! My family (wife and two sons) and I also love to scuba dive. We have gone diving in Lake Michigan, where there are a number of very cool shipwrecks just off of the shoreline of downtown Chicago. In Grand Cayman, we dove with stingrays where you could feed and pet them in about 20 feet of water. It was an unbelievable experience. We went on a shark dive in the Bahamas. You know you are alive when a shark swims directly at you then just skims past you like you are another fish. After I opened my eyes again, I got some pretty cool pictures!
What is your industry outlook? What’s your outlook on how COVID is shifting your professional approach?
Law firms and clients are becoming more and more interested in litigation finance and how they can benefit from its use. We are able to help clients in several ways that help to mitigate the impact COVID is having on their business. First, we can alleviate the financing strain that legal bills have on their budgets, because we can provide funding for attorneys’ fees and expenses for ongoing or anticipated litigation and for patent prosecution costs, including maintenance fees and foreign annuity fees. Second, we can provide a source for additional operating capital that may help fund ongoing operational expenses. And third, for clients with pending litigation, we can provide an early monetization of potential recoveries before they actually occur. This can provide an infusion of much-needed cash to a client. Our funding can also provide a lifeline to law firms who are also dealing with COVID fallout. We can provide funding for matters where a law firm has taken a case on a contingency but would like to convert that case to a matter that generates income. We can step in and provide funding to the law firm. This can help provide a revenue stream to the law firm during a time when clients may be struggling to pay bills.