Litigation funder Burford hires Time Inc associate GC

Litigation funder Burford has appointed Time Inc associate general counsel Melissa Sobel to help manage the company’s investment portfolio.

It comes at the funder, which is listed on Aim, unveiled an 18 per cent rise in turnover at its half-year point to $13.6m.

The company said Sobel, who was lead counsel for Time Inc publishing group covering US titles InStyle and Entertainment Weekly, would manage Burford’s litigation portfolio.

Burford chief executive Christopher Bogart said that the company had funded more than 35 disputes in the US and UK at an average investment of approximately $7m and a range of $3m to $15m.

Launched in 2009, Burford is among the larger players in the third-party litigation finance sector. The firm said it has committed nearly $300m to its portfolio.

“Our portfolio is extremely robust and dynamic and we continue to find new ways of structuring our investments,” Bogart said. “Melissa arrives at just the right time and she brings the ideal skills as a transactional lawyer and in-house counsel.”

Before joining Time Inc Sobel was a corporate and securities lawyer with Debevoise & Plimpton, working on M&A deals as well as financings, restructurings and private investments.

In December Burford expanded its presence in the UK through the acquisition of after-the-event provider FirstAssist (12 December 2011). The company’s half-year results show that FirstAssist was acquired for $11.5m net of cash and, in the four months since completion, the underwriter has contributed $3.7m in profit to the group.