It was a show of force in keeping with the ambitions of American law firms that increasingly see the European Union’s vast apparatus as a vital lobbying opportunity for themselves and their multinational corporate clients. … As the European Union has emerged as a regulatory superpower affecting 28 countries that collectively form the world’s largest economy, its policies have become ever more important to corporations operating across borders. In turn, the influence business in Brussels has become ever larger and more competitive, rivaled only by Washington’s. … No group is proving more aggressive in claiming a share of that business — and provoking more criticism — than Covington and a dozen other major international law firms, some of which have imported American practices to Brussels, the seat of European Union power, while also operating with fewer constraints than in the United States. … The firms are taking advantage of weak ethics rules in Brussels, including one that allows some former government officials to begin exploiting their connections the day they leave office. … “There is a certain excitement of getting what you want through the system,” Mr. De Ruyt said in an interview, adding that he had learned the art of influencing decisions, instead of just making them. “I now know exactly how to do it.”
The Zappa Family Trust owns the rights to a massive trove of music and other creative output by the songwriter, filmmaker and producer — more than 60 albums were released during Zappa’s lifetime and 40 posthumously. Like the intellectual property of many rock stars, the Zappa archives controlled by the trust are potentially worth at least tens of millions of dollars, according to one music insider. ... Since the October 2015 death of Zappa’s wife, Gail, however, their children have become embroiled in a feud over control of the trust, which is millions of dollars in debt, pitting one brother and sister against another brother and sister. At issue is not just a celebrated artistic legacy, but even which of the children can perform using the Zappa name and profit from it. ... Thanks to a decision by their mother, he and his younger sister, Diva, 36, share control of the trust — to the dismay and anger of their two older siblings, Dweezil, 46, and Moon, 48, who got smaller portions of the trust than their younger siblings.
Litigation funding has a checkered past. For centuries it was a crime to fund someone else’s lawsuit, under ancient English “champerty and maintenance” laws created to stop noblemen from meddling in each other’s quarrels. ... By the 20th century, legal and accountancy firms started buying and selling insurance and bankruptcy claims informally, but champerty rules remained a barrier to trading in legal claims. Then, during the late 1990s and early 2000s, a string of British and Australian court rulings held that it wasn’t a bad thing for claimants with legitimate grievances to get external financial help, even if the helpers were out to make a profit. ... Although litigation funding remained impossible in some jurisdictions, it spread quickly in others. Early investors in lawsuits were mostly opportunistic hedge funds and wealthy individuals whose involvement was private and confidential. It was a good deal for litigants, who no longer had to worry about spiraling legal costs; for lawyers, who got paid no matter the outcome; and for the funders, who could get back multiple times what they paid for a share of the suit if it succeeded. ... True to the maxim that lawyers make money in good times and bad, litigation funding is impervious to recessions and other economic shocks. Managed well, litigation funds can offer returns that are hard to find anywhere else.