NEW YORK (May 5, 2022) – Nearing its fourth anniversary in June, leading litigation funder Validity Finance, announced the arrival of two senior members to its team including a new portfolio counsel for investment review, and a new corporate counsel. Validity also reports the promotion of seven professionals in New York, Houston and Tel Aviv.
In Houston, Michelle Eber joins as portfolio counsel from Baker Botts, where she represented technology and energy clients in patent litigation matters. In New York, Abe Sutton arrives as corporate counsel from Windels Marx Lane & Mittendorf, where he practiced commercial and real estate law. And joining Validity as its chief marketing officer is John Neidecker, who previously led marketing and business development initiatives at several Am Law 100 firms.
“We’re delighted to add three superb line professionals to further scale up operations as we hit our fourth year in business,” said Validity founder and CEO Ralph Sutton. “Michelle Eber has substantial trial experience and command of the litigation market in Texas, which has become an important hub for our funding platform. Abe Sutton has a strong background in corporate and real estate transactions.”
Since its launch in June 2018, Validity has experienced rapid growth, adding former litigators from Gibson Dunn, Boies Schiller and other leading law firms. The firm has three full-time offices – New York, Houston, and Washington, DC, which launched last month. Validity also added major names to its roster of senior advisors and board of directors, including current and former chairs of Am Law 100 firms. The firm has committed nearly $300 million towards client matters in more than 50 separate dispute investments, and secured additional funding of $70 million this past fall.
About the new hires:
- Michelle Eber – Portfolio Counsel: Ms. Eber is responsible for Validity’s patent matters, including evaluating new cases for investment and managing funded cases. She brings more than 10 years of patent and trade secret litigation experience, including significant courtroom experience. She was formerly special counsel at Baker Botts in Houston, where she represented plaintiffs and defendants in the energy and technology sectors in high-stakes IP cases, including disputes involving oilfield technologies, telecommunications systems, data and video compression systems and computer hardware and software. She has been recognized as “One to Watch” in The Best Lawyers in America in 2022 and a Texas Super Lawyer – Rising Star for IP Litigation in 2020-2022. She received her J.D. with honors from the University of Texas School of Law, where she was a member of the Texas Law Review. She also holds an M.B.A. from the University of Texas McCombs School of Business. Ms. Eber graduated magna cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania with a B.S. in systems engineering. The addition of Ms. Eber reflects a growing pool of complex patent disputes that Validity is considering funding.
- Abe Sutton – Corporate Counsel: Mr. Sutton will work closely with Validity clients and their respective in-house and outside counsel, along with the firm’s investment team, to navigate all aspects of risk mitigation and funding. He was previously a senior associate at Windels Marx, focused on commercial real estate matters. He represented private and public companies, and private equity clients in corporate transactions including mergers and acquisitions, financings, reorganizations, corporate governance and securities law compliance. He received his J.D. from Fordham University School of Law, where he was a member of the Fordham Law Review. Mr. Sutton graduated summa cum laude from Yeshiva University with a B.S. in Finance.
Meanwhile, Validity has elevated seven of its team members to new positions within the company.
“This talented group of professionals has helped us grow in a short time to a formidable presence in the increasingly competitive space for dispute funding, while helping distinguish Validity as a true leader in client service,” Mr. Sutton said. “We’re grateful for the team we have in place and look forward to hitting our next round of growth together, in capital commitments and developing new innovations in litigation finance.”
The new promotions include:
- Laina Hammond – Managing Director, Senior Investment Officer: Formerly an investment manager, Ms. Hammond has been with Validity since launch, directing the firm’s Houston office. She was previously a litigation principal at Shipley Snell Montgomery.
- David Kerstein– Managing Director, Senior Investment Officer: Mr. Kerstein likewise joined Validity at its 2018 launch. A former trial attorney at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, he was formerly a senior investment manager and counsel at litigation funder Bentham IMF.
- Julia Gewolb– Chief Risk Officer: Ms. Gewolb has been with Validity since 2018. A former litigator with Boies Schiller Flexner, Ms. Gewolb was previously legal counsel at Bentham IMF with Messrs. Sutton and Kerstein.
- Wendie Childress– Investment Advisor: Formerly a portfolio counsel at Validity, Ms. Childress joined the company in 2019; she was previously a trial attorney at litigation and appellate boutique Yetter Coleman.
- Joshua Libling– Director of Risk Analytics/Portfolio Counsel: Mr. Libling has been with Validity since 2020. He was previously a counsel at Boies Schiller Flexner.
- Jason Listhaus– General Counsel: Mr. Listhaus, who joined Validity in 2020, was previously was a member of the corporate department at Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson.
- Eli Schulman– Senior Advisor: Mr. Schulman joined Validity in 2020, establishing the firm’s presence in Tel Aviv.
Validity is a commercial litigation finance company that provides non-recourse investments for a wide variety of commercial disputes. Validity’s mission is to make a meaningful difference in our clients’ experience of the legal system. We focus on fairness, innovation, and clarity. For more, visit www.validityfinance.com