NEW YORK (Legal Newsline) - Burford
Capital, a leading third-party litigation funder in New York, has opened Burford
Law in London.
Evans, hired from Akin Gump, is the sole lawyer in Burford Law’s London office.
The establishment of Burford Law was to facilitate its judgment enforcement
business, and not to compete with the litigation-funder’s law firm clients, according
to Christopher Bogart, Burford Capital’s CEO.
Law received a license to operate using an alternative business structure (ABS)
that allows non-lawyer ownership in the United Kingdom this February.
Solicitors’ Regulation Authority of England and Wales regulates Burford Law,
according to Bogart.
are about 10,000 law firms based in the UK, with some 450 licensed as ABS, reports
the American Bar Association.
is no ABS in place that allows third-party litigation funders such as Burford
Capital, which is listed on the London stock exchange, to provide attorney
services to clients in the U.S.
American Bar Association Model Rules of Professional Responsibility, Rule 5.4,
prohibit non-lawyer ownership of firms and the sharing of fees with a
non-lawyer,” Morris Ratner, an associate dean and professor at the UC College
of Law in San Francisco, told Legal
non-lawyer ownership laws come to the U.S. as they have in the UK?
would have to be a rather profound change in the cultural mindset of the American
legal profession, Mary H. Terzino, an attorney who studies rules about law firm
ownership, told Legal Newsline. "Such
a change would face some very stiff opposition from lawyer professional
associations such as the ABA,” according to her.
no such countervailing force to let non-lawyer ownership rules stay intact took
place in the UK.
I think we're going to see changes in the U.S.,” Ratner said, “but my gut
intuition is that we're a generation or so away from it."
there talk in any legal circles of changing non-lawyer ownership rules for the
subject comes up from time to time. Pressure from funders is certainly part of
ABA may be looking at ownership rules for law firms again,” said Terzino, who
also consults with the U.S. Chamber Institute of Legal Reform, owner of Legal Newsline.
the last time that happened the ABA decided to leave lawyer ownership rules
circumstances would have to occur for law firm ownership laws to happen
to Ratner, market pressure could fuel litigation-funders to launch law
firms stateside, despite the U.S. profession’s opposition.
capitalized foreign law firms will compete for global business,” he said.
that scenario, heightened competition to provide legal services could lower
prices. The potential of reduced prices for lawyer services could benefit customers.