Alison Frankel’s On The Case
Copyright (c) 2018 Thomson Reuters
February 1, 2018
(Reuters) – Here’s more proof, if you needed it, that litigation financing is here to stay. On Thursday, former Grais & Ellsworth partners Owen Cyrulnik and Ross Wallin announced the launch of a new litigation financing shop, Curiam Capital. They’ve already got $100 million in funding – and most of it is from BlueCrest hedge fund CEO Michael Platt, whose fund managed nearly $40 billion at its peak.
To be clear, Curiam is backed by Platt himself, not by BlueCrest, which cashed out its external investors and changed over to a private partnership at the end of 2015. But Platt is known for savvy investment decisions. Bloomberg reported in January that his fund jumped 50 percent in 2016 and 54 percent last year.
And for the adolescent litigation funding industry, it’s important not just that Platt is putting his money into the business, but that he has done it publicly. Curiam Capital’s press release disclosed Platt’s backing in its second paragraph. In the past, when hedge fund celebrities such as Emanuel Friedman have ventured into the business of backing lawsuits, they’ve done it quietly.
Cyrulnik and Wallin have the excellent credentials that seem to have become de rigueur for litigation financiers. Before they joined Grais & Ellsworth, best known for representing plaintiffs in mortgage-backed securities litigation, they worked together at Cravath Swaine & Moore. Wallin also did a stint at Gibson Dunn & Crutcher. Between them, they told me in an interview Thursday, they have litigation experience on both the plaintiff and defense sides in practice areas ranging from structured finance and complex contracts to antitrust and patent law. The fund, Cyrulnik and Wallin said, is not expected to concentrate investments in a particular area of law.
The two said they’re looking to invest in both portfolios of cases and individual cases that might be under the radar of large litigation funders like Burford but are still sufficiently high-stakes to warrant a million-dollar investment.