Texas civil trial docket booming, growing case backlog suggests more need for funding; Validity reports demand for funding nationally up nearly 50% in 2020
NEW YORK (November 5, 2020) – Leading litigation funder Validity Finance has expanded its Texas bench with the addition of former Kirkland & Ellis Houston trial partner Sarah Williams. She joins as portfolio counsel in Houston, where she’ll advise on potential investments with particular focus on Texas and the Southwest.
At Kirkland, Ms. Williams handled a wide span of litigation matters, including high-profile energy and bankruptcy cases, as well as disputes involving contract, fraud, professional liability, and employment claims. Along with her experience, she brings strong analytic skills for helping Validity assess funding opportunities with law firms and businesses across Texas and the region.
The Texas legal market is the nation’s third-largest and boasts one of the most active state court systems, and the fourth most active federal system. The latest annual report by the Texas Judiciary reported that the number of civil lawsuits filed in state district courts grew by 11% between 2018-19, and nearly 30% over a five-year period. As the state’s docket has grown, so has the backlog, creating more financial pressure on claimants trying to advance their cases.
We’ve seen a pronounced uptick this year in demand for funding support – including among companies and law firms constrained by Covid. Nationally, demand has grown around 50%,” said Validity’s Houston office head Laina Hammond. “In our two-and-a-half-year presence here, we’ve met with virtually all of the top trial practices in the state, including boutiques. This is a market that grasps the value proposition in partnering with strong funding providers to grow and sustain litigation pipelines.”
Regarding Ms. Williams, Ms. Hammond added, “We had no doubt that Sarah was a strong fit with our team here. She brings outstanding trial experience and excellent relationships across the region, and her ability to size up the merits and worthiness of a case will make her invaluable for building our Texas portfolio. We are thrilled to have her with us and look forward to helping clients find innovative financing solutions to meet the unprecedented legal challenges they face.”
Ms. Williams was partner at Kirkland from 2018-20, having previously been a litigation associate. She was formerly an associate at the Houston firm Diamond McCarthy as well as at Weil Gotshal. She served as judicial clerk for the Honorable Marcia Crone in the Eastern District of Texas from 2010-12. Before becoming a lawyer, Ms. Williams was an award-winning journalist, writing for various publications including The Houston Chronicle and Examiner Newspaper Group.
“I am excited to join the Validity team and to help expand the company’s portfolio in Texas and beyond,” Ms. Williams said. “As a trial lawyer, I’m keenly aware of the important role litigation finance can play in ensuring worthy cases reach the courtroom and look forward to partnering with our clients to develop innovative solutions to their funding needs.”
Retired Magistrate Judge Henry Jones Joins Investment Committee
Validity also announced a new member to its investment committee, former U.S. Magistrate Judge Henry Jones. He joins former federal Judge John Gleeson, retired Kirkland & Ellis partner Jim Schink, and Towerbrook General Counsel Glenn Miller on Validity’s investment committee.
Judge Jones most recently served as a mediator, arbitrator and Special Master for The McCammon Group after retiring from more than 30 years as Magistrate Judge of the U.S. District Court of the Eastern District of Arkansas. A graduate of Yale University and the University of Michigan Law School, he enjoyed a broad civil litigation practice as a partner at Walker Hollingsworth & Jones in Little Rock, Ark., prior to his judicial career.
Validity CEO Ralph Sutton stated, “Judge Jones and I have known each other for over 30 years. We both clerked for the Honorable G Thomas Eisele about 20 years apart. Judge Jones‘ reputation for incisive, crisp and thoughtful decisions from the bench was always matched by his impartiality and respect for the dignity of every litigant who appeared before him. We know he will contribute meaningfully to the quality of our IC’s investment decisions.”
About Validity: Validity is a commercial litigation finance company that provides non-recourse investments for a wide variety of commercial disputes. Validity’s mission is to make a meaningful difference in our clients’ experience of the legal system. We focus on fairness, innovation, and clarity. For more, visit www.validity-finance.com.