Having joined LCM in 2018, Melbourne-based Investment Manager Siba Diqer enjoyed an international career as a litigator in global top tier law firms before making the transition into disputes finance. Today, leveraging her expertise gained in private practice, and as an active committee member of the Turnaround Management Association, Siba originates and underwrites various cases involving insolvency and restructuring and corporate disputes.
Why did you decide on law as a career?
I was studying criminology and psychology with the aim of joining ASIO (yes, I was going to be a spy!). I decided to drop criminology and start law as a good general degree to have. Once I started studying law, I found I was passionate about it and loved the work experience I undertook at the same time with a barrister and law firm.
I didn’t agree with what the government was doing at the time, so decided I would save the world by joining the UN instead. When I received a graduate offer with a top tier firm, I thought it was too good to turn down and I would save the world later. Some, 11 years later, having worked in private practice in Brisbane, Frankfurt Am Main and Melbourne, as well as completed a secondment with a bank, I decided to join LCM as an Investment Manager.
What did you enjoy most as a disputes lawyer?
The strategising and teamwork. I’ve been fortunate to work with some incredibly talented people on very high-profile cases.
How did you find the transition into disputes finance?
The biggest challenge for me was going from an office of 700 people to two people, and then three months later taking maternity leave (it was a surprise when my daughter arrived three weeks early at the exact time I had a teleconference scheduled). The transition itself has been great. I’m still doing what I love, but approaching it from a different perspective.
How does your role at LCM compare with legal practice?
My role is focused on working with clients to build bespoke solutions. I’m able to utilise the skills I obtained by working in three practice areas (finance, dispute resolution, and restructuring and insolvency), and a diverse range of non-legal skills, in the one role. It is also a shift in focus, analysing a case on its merits is very important but we also spend a lot of time assessing the economics of the case and recoverability. This in conjunction with more business development, autonomy and flexible work arrangements has made my role challenging and enjoyable.
What are you seeing in terms of current applications to LCM for disputes finance? Has there been an increase in insolvency-related applications?
LCM is focused on providing financing solutions to corporates outside of traditional single-case funding. In the current climate, we have seen an increase in corporates looking to take legal spend off their balance sheets and shift risk by utilising our corporate portfolio offering.
We have also found insolvency practitioners embracing our purchasing by way of assignment offering, as an alternative to funding. We are yet to see an increase in insolvency-related applications – we predict this will occur late 2021.
What predictions do you have for future developments of the disputes finance market?
A shift in perception – funding is not just for impecunious litigants and class actions. It is a cash and risk management tool that should be considered by all corporates, particularly in a turnaround scenario.