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Litigation-Finance Firm Survives Chevron Debacle, Learns Lessons, and Thrives

Donziger at a press conference in Quito, Ecuador
Donziger at a press conference in Quito, EcuadorPhotograph by Rodrigo Buendia/AFP via Getty Images

Burford Capital, a litigation-finance firm, was just getting aloft in 2010 when it invested $4 million in a controversial pollution lawsuit against Chevron in Ecuador. The transaction went sour very quickly.

Burford’s chief executive officer, Christopher Bogart, a former executive vice president and general counsel of Time Warner, says his firm has benefited from having extricated itself swiftly from the pollution suit and has seen its profits expand. Burford’s fortunes matter because it’s the largest competitor in a nascent litigation-finance industry that provides capital to law firms and corporate litigants in exchange for a share of eventual recoveries.