In an interesting piece from the usually liberal and pro-trial lawyer NY Times, a political investigative segment was published today on the relationship that NY Assemblyman and speaker Sheldon Silver has with Counsel Financial, one of the biggest legal finance firms in the business and one with ties to some of the bigger structured settlement firms in our industry.
I'm not really sure where the Times is going with this piece, other then to imply that Silver's investment in Counsel Financial is some how tied to his long standing resistance to tort reform measures submitted to the NY state legislature. The fact is that the article makes pretty clear there are no ethics violations here and Silver's long standing advocacy of prohibiting caps on damages and other "tort reform" that limits citizens rights to recovery predate his investment in Counsel.
What a lot of people who aren't aware of the power and influence of the legal finance business might find interesting is that the chairman and vice chairman of Counsel are the nationally renown trial lawyers Perry Weitz and Arthur Luxenberg. I've written before about the looming power and influence that legal finance and lending firms are about to exert on the settlement industry before, but as this article seems to imply their reach goes into the political world as well.
Legal finance firms have become the life blood of a huge segment of the legal world as regular banks and commercial lenders avoid lending to contigency law firms. However, with the cash and a lending relationship comes a power over the trial lawyer that can have far reaching influence over who they use as their structured settlement broker, settlement advisor or trustee.
I doubt this article will do anything but be a ripple in the water of local NY politics, but the fact that the legal finance business made the NY Times is news and indication that it is moving out of the shadows and into the light of the "big media" spotlight.