My friend Steve Sellick points out that UCLA and RAND are teaming up for and presenting an interesting June 2 seminar at RAND in Santa Monica on litigation funding. Litigation funding is a topic I’ve mentioned before in a Corporate Counsel  "special section "article and on this blog.  The existence of material amounts of capital available for litigation funding is in my opinion a huge development in and driver for litigation of all kinds, ranging from intellectual property to securities class actions to mass tort personal injury claiming. Moreover, this trend is only going to accelerate as the UK’s legal reforms will soon (not later than 2011) allow direct outside investment in UK law firms.

The UCLA-RAND seminar speakers include some significant academics and a former President of the British Bar. An online invitation to the seminar is available here . Attendance is free, but advance registration is required by May 25, it says. The academic speakers include UCLA’s Prof. Stephen C. Yeazell and Lynn M. LoPucki. I would love to attend but family activities dictate other priorities. Hopefully the papers will be published online after the conference. Sponsors include litigation funders Juridica, IM Litigation Funding and Oxbridge, with the latter explicitly saying on its website that it funds mesothelioma claims.

Professor LoPucki is well-known for his many papers on bankruptcy economics, including attorneys’ fees. Even more interesting for me is Professor Yeazell’s participation. Professor Yeazell is the author of wonderful 2001 law review article I cite time and again in discussions regarding the how and why of the nature of our litigation system in the United States. The paper was delivered as part of a seminar sponsored annually by one of Chicago’s most respected plaintiffs lawyers, Robert Clifford. The paper is titled:

SYMPOSIUM ARTICLE: THE CHANGING LANDSCAPE OF THE PRACTICE, FINANCING AND ETHICS OF CIVIL LITIGATION IN THE WAKE OF THE TOBACCO WARS: Seventh Annual Clifford Symposium on Tort Law and Social Policy: RE-FINANCING CIVIL LITIGATION , 51 DePaul L. Rev. 183. The paper can be downloaded from this site.

Back to the seminar – the invitation describes the seminar as follows.

"RAND Institute for Civil Justice and UCLA School of Law recently forged a new initiative through which they identify and analyze the biggest and most influential trends in civil justice. One such trend–litigation claim transfer (also referred to as third party litigation funding)–has created the environment for litigation claim transfer to be evaluated as a component of the American civil justice system. The confluence of the recent credit shortage, the enormity of the overall market for legal services, and the search for investment opportunities unrelated to general economic risk has created the supreme environment for litigation claim transfer to expand and thrive.

UCLA-RAND Center for Law and Public Policy is bringing together stakeholders to not only discuss this phenomenon, but to frame how it is debated in government, law schools and state bars across the country. We are pleased to invite you to attend a conference designed to address these important issues on June 2, 2009 at RAND’s Santa Monica headquarters. "