Business of Law

AkinMears owes me $4.2M for arranging loans to buy mass tort cases, ex-employee alleges

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Former leveraged-finance executive Amir Shenaq says he earned $1.4 million while working less than five months at Houston law firm AkinMears, but that didn’t fully compensate him for securing commitments for more than $90 million in loans to the firm.

Shenaq claims in a Sept. 29 lawsuit that AkinMears owes him another $4.2 million for his work obtaining the loans that enabled the firm to buy about 14,000 transvaginal mesh lawsuits from four other law firms. The Southeast Texas Record, a blog owned by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for Legal Reform, was first with the news. Forbes and Texas Lawyer also have stories.

At the time he was hired, Shenaq says, AkinMears was paying 24 percent interest on a $40 million loan to a litigation finance firm. Shenaq says he managed to find financing with a more attractive interest rate of 16 percent. The firm fired Shenaq, he says, when he asked for the money owed him.

“Looking back at how it all went down,” Shenaq says in the suit, “it is now clear that the question wasn’t if AkinMears was going to screw Shenaq. The only question was when.”

The aim in securing the loans, the suit says, was to change AkinMears’ strategy from finding clients through advertising to making direct investments in mass tort litigation. Shenaq’s suit calls AkinMears a “mass tort warehouse” that is run like a “glorified claims processing center.”

According to Forbes, “The claims, if true, paint an unflattering portrait of a business where law firms use television and Internet ads to recruit clients, whom they then trade with other firms in exchange for a piece of the contingency fees that often run to 40 percent.”

The case was temporarily sealed Oct. 7 after AkinMears claimed Shenaq had broken a confidentiality agreement by disclosing trade secret information about the firm.

The law firm did not comment when contacted by Forbes and Texas Lawyer.

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