John Garda is particularly well-suited for the world of litigation finance, having worked as a CPA for a Big 4 accounting firm, a trial lawyer focused on complex commercial disputes, and a managing partner at K&L Gates. This unique combination of legal, financial, and management experience made him a natural fit for Longford Capital, where he joined as managing director and head of the Dallas office earlier this year. Garda is a graduate of University of Notre Dame Law School.
Lawdragon: Can you describe for our readers the types of services your firm provides?
John Garda: Longford Capital is a private investment company that provides capital solutions to leading law firms, public and private companies, research universities, government agencies, and other entities involved in large-scale, commercial legal disputes. Typically, Longford Capital funds attorneys' fees and other costs necessary to pursue meritorious legal claims in return for a portion of a favorable settlement or award.
The firm manages a diversified portfolio and considers investments in subject matter areas where we have developed considerable expertise, including, business-to-business contract claims, antitrust and trade regulation claims, intellectual property claims (including patent, trademark, copyright, and trade secret), fiduciary duty claims, fraud claims, claims in bankruptcy and liquidation, domestic and international arbitrations and a variety of others.
The funding that we provide is on a non-recourse basis, which means that if the litigation is successful, Longford Capital is paid back its investment plus an agreed upon return; and if the litigation is unsuccessful, then the client owes us nothing. We invest in claims at all stages of the litigation life cycle, from the initial dispute even before a complaint is filed, all the way through the trial and appellate phases, and the collection efforts with enforcing a judgment.
LD: What enticed you to make the move from litigator to litigation financer?
JG: I first became interested in litigation funding when Longford Capital engaged my law firm – K&L Gates - to perform due diligence involved with some of its potential investments. Our two-stage due diligence process is unique and effective - if we are interested in funding a case after we perform our due diligence on the opportunity, then we hire a law firm to perform an independent case assessment as part of the second phase of the due diligence process. At K&L Gates, I was able to manage several case assessment projects on behalf of Longford Capital. So, I have been personally involved and interested in litigation funding since Longford Capital began funding cases in 2013.
LD: What do you like about working in this area?
JG: The entire litigation funding industry is a fascinating space and it continues to grow at lightning speed. What started with small companies in need of funding has evolved to law firms choosing to fund portfolios of cases to balance cash flow throughout the year, and more recently, to now having very large companies, including Fortune 50 companies, interested in taking advantage of the benefits of litigation funding.
These benefits to large companies include no financial risk at the outset of a dispute; no adverse impact on the company’s financial statements given the fact that the company does not need to record any expense to its income statement throughout the duration of the matter; the ability to create certainty from a corporate budget perspective for the CFO and GC; and incentivizing the CFO and GC to turn the legal department into a profit center as opposed to a cost center.
The genuine excitement that companies and law firms have when discussing their funding opportunities and the ability to work with the best professional team in the industry in finding funding solutions for those opportunities is incredibly satisfying.
LD: Are you seeing any trends in commercial litigation finance these days?
JG: From a funding perspective, the types of cases that are keeping us particularly busy these days are IP litigation, antitrust matters involving improper acts aimed at price fixing, and business fraud and breach of fiduciary duty claims including claims that are being brought by a bankruptcy trustee as part of an insolvency proceeding.
We continue to expand our program that assists leading national universities with their efforts to enforce their intellectual property that they believe is being infringed by third parties.
From a market perspective, the secondary market continues to develop as more folks are trying to penetrate the industry to take advantage of the potential high rate of returns.
LD: Can you walk us through your career path, and how it led to the work you do now?
RS: After majoring in accounting in college, I became a Certified Public Accountant while working for the global accounting firm that is now known as EY (Ernst & Young). After graduating from Notre Dame Law School, I worked at a national law firm in the Chicago office for one year and then had an opportunity for a federal judicial clerkship with the Honorable Jorge Solis in Dallas, Texas. This clerkship opportunity is the reason why I moved to Dallas.
After the clerkship, I worked at the Dallas-based law firm Hughes & Luce, which merged into K&L Gates in 2008. K&L Gates is a Global 20 law firm and I was privileged to have served as the managing partner of K&L Gates, Dallas, for the last several years of my career in private practice.
This combined experience has been incredibly rewarding and very complementary to the skills needed to excel in the litigation funding industry. In fact, our management team at Longford Capital – with its deep business background, significant litigation expertise, and broad management experience – is the single distinguishing factor that separates us from the rest of our competition.