COMPANIES need to make the best returns on the assets they have in hand. But what if a company does not know that it has them, or whether it can use them? In some cases a lawsuit could be a valuable earner. A technology company in liquidation might have a patent-infringement suit that the bankruptcy’s administrators lack the time to pursue. There may be money to be made by suing a joint-venture partner, but the prospect of a costly case dissuades managers from going to court.
Enter “third-party funders”. These outside investors offer to pay for a lawsuit, in exchange for a share of the payout: from 30% to 60%. Some lawyers work on contingency (“no win, no fee”) arrangements, but others cannot shoulder the risk. So third-party funders may get involved. Returns are impressive enough to have drawn in both hedge funds and traditional financial companies… (Read the whole article.)
A bit of news that has kept me busy enough not to post much here recently: in July, I’ll be moving to Berlin to take up a new posting as The Economist‘s Central Europe business and finance correspondent.
The Economist this week published a package on liberalizing America’s lawyers: a leader on why more variety and choice would help both lawyers and their clients, my report on Jacoby & Myers’ fight for the right to take non-lawyer investors, and a look at one idea for making law school more affordable: letting students take the bar after two years.
Money and back-room politicking are contaminating the selection of judges
PETER COOK, a British comedian, once portrayed a slow-witted miner musing that he would have become a judge, “but I never ’ad the Latin.” Alas, in America, he might have done better: digging in the dirt for donations and political support sometimes seems more important to becoming a judge than any intellectual skill… (Read the whole article.)
The lexicographer and lawyer Bryan Garner has been one of the foremost intellectual language prescribers for more than a decade. I hesitate to call our exchange simply a debate — we agreed on many things and disagreed on many things. But one thing we agree on is that it is time for "descriptivists" and "prescriptivists" to move past mossy old debates and try to see where we find common ground.
The debate, hosted by the New York Times, is here.