Thursday, May 1, 2014

Litigation Funding: A Concise Timeline- by Amerevision

In light of all of the recent media attention given to the litigation funding industry recently, wouldn't it be nice to know more about its history?

·         1765: Litigation funding isn't new.  It was an ancient practice, considered meddling and banned in much of Western society during the 18th century. William Blackstone, an English attorney and politician, calls third party funders “pests of society.”

·         1787: Jeremy Bentham, a British philosopher and the founder of modern Utilitarianism, decided to go against the grain and penned “Defence of Usury” where he articulated that “wealth has the monopoly of justice against poverty” and advocated for lawsuit lending.

Flash-forward to the 20th century…
·         1908: The American Bar Association cautiously began to allow attorneys to charge contingency fees, which meant that they could perform work in exchange for a share of the potential reward.  This was intended to facilitate representation for people who couldn't afford to pay upfront.

·         1963: Civil Rights! In one of the most important "wins" for litigation funding, SCOTUS ruled that civil lawsuits were protected under the First Amendment as free speech, making it possible for N.A.A.C.P to back plaintiffs in cases regarded civil liberties.

·         1985: Pay attention business owners: Charles P. Hall raises $1 million from investors in order to finance a patent protection lawsuit. This, a strategy that is now popular, was innovative.

·         1992: Ken Polowitz, a mortgage banker, creates the first legal financing firm, Plaintiff Support Services, which offered support to plaintiffs awaiting a settlement from litigation.

·         1998: General Electric turns a $4.2 million dollar profit from funding a lawsuit for a discount retailer against Chase Manhattan.

·         2000: The American Bar Association formally embraces litigation funding.

·         2004: The American Legal Finance Association is created under pressure from NY Attorney General Eliot Spitzer.

So, there you have it: the most important dates in litigation funding history! To learn more, or for any questions about litigation funding, visit Amerevision's website at

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