Insurance recovery veteran sees a big upside for firms and claimants that use litigation finance
Insurance litigation can be exceptionally lengthy and complex and involve hundreds of millions of dollars in potential damages. And in Fiona Chaney’s view, it may be the perfect opportunity for law firms and claimants to test the advantages of utilizing litigation finance.
Chaney, who joined Bentham IMF’s Los Angeles office in November as an investment manager and legal counsel, has an extensive background in insurance coverage and other litigation matters. She’s using that experience to find and evaluate potential investments for Bentham – and to help spread the word about the advantages of funding.
With 15 years of litigation and trial experience, Chaney has a deep appreciation of the risks and potential inherent in litigation. For example, her years of experience gives her keen insight into the potential value of a case. “I can separate the wheat from the chaff, boil claims down to the key issues, and accurately assess vulnerabilities,” Chaney says.
Chaney began her legal career as a paralegal first working for a solo practitioner and then at Troop Steuber Pasich Reddick & Tobey, where she met Kirk Pasich, one of the preeminent lawyers in the insurance bar. Chaney subsequently earned her J.D. at Loyola Law School, Loyola Marymount University. During law school, she clerked for Pasich, who had moved to Howrey LLP, and worked on matters with him and the firm’s insurance coverage group. After graduation, she joined Howrey as an associate.
In 2010, Chaney left Howrey with members of its insurance recovery practice for Perkins Coie, where she continued to represent energy and technology companies in high-stakes insurance coverage matters.
In 2012, she rejoined Pasich at Dickstein Shapiro. At Dickstein, she took on insurance coverage matters involving the sports and entertainment industries and represented A-list entertainers, professional athletes, sports teams, producers, and other high net-worth clients. Her practice also included representing energy companies in high-profile insurance coverage matters, and with Pasich, she tried the country’s first insurance coverage case stemming from Superstorm Sandy, which resulted in a bad-faith verdict against AIG. She was promoted to partner shortly after the trial.
Her diverse experiences, Chaney says, have given her the ability to “see litigation from many sides, from being an associate working in the back office, to being on the front lines as a first- and second-chair trial lawyer, to being the client.” They also give Chaney real-world insight into the issues facing companies and firms seeking financing. “I understand the tension that firms often face when they worry about taking on contingency cases or when they think their ratio of alternative fee arrangement matters is getting a little high. They want to make sure the bills are paid,” Chaney says. “That’s when you can really benefit from funding a case or taking on a portfolio funding arrangement.”
Says Chaney: “I’m transitioning out of living my life six minutes at a time.”