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Thursday, 17 September 2020

Q&A with Thomas Storer (Investment Manager, Augusta Australia)

Thomas Storer has recently joined Augusta Australia as an Investment Manager. Thomas talks about his transition from private legal practice at Ashurst to working in litigation funding and managing a career transition in a pandemic.

Q. Thomas, you have recently joined Augusta as an Investment Manager based in Sydney. Can you provide a short summary of your legal career to date? Highlights and lowlights?

A. I began my career as the researcher to the Commercial List judges in the Supreme Court of NSW, before starting as a graduate at Ashurst Australia and settling as a lawyer in the Dispute Resolution team.  Between 2012 and 2015, I worked as a litigator at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP and Deutsche Bank in London.  In 2015, I returned to Ashurst Australia as a senior associate and specialised in financial services disputes, regulatory investigations and general commercial litigation.  In 2017 and 2018, I was seconded to Commonwealth Bank of Australia in the Major Dispute Resolution and Employee Relations Legal team.

Highlights: Going on a team outing to Paris after winning a major piece of litigation.

Lowlights: During a particularly urgent matter, getting home and having 20 minutes sleep before getting up to go back into the office.

Q. What attracted you to litigation funding and to Augusta?

A. I was attracted to litigation funding because I believe it serves a valuable social purpose by ensuring that litigants with good claims are not prevented from accessing the Courts due to a lack of resources or expertise.  Augusta Ventures has a very strong reputation in the UK litigation funding market and is a well-established brand in the Australian market, and I am looking forward to being part of Augusta’s continuing expansion in Australia and the Asia-Pacific.

Q. What do you think are the skills you will need to develop in your new role?

A. Litigation funding requires a particular focus on financial analysis and claim economics.  In addition, litigation funding requires you to make a judgment not just about whether a claim can be brought, but whether it should be brought.

Q. You have just completed your first month at Augusta Australia. Can you share some of your initial impressions?

A. So far, I have found that the diligence process really allows me to step back from the nitty gritty and consider claims in a more wholistic way.  Also, having spent many years in private practice it is a luxury to have a brief delivered with much of the hard work and preparation already done by the solicitors!

Q. Has the work and environment met your expectations formed during the interview process and any prior knowledge of the business?  Any surprises?

A. To date, the work environment has met my expectations and there have been no major negative surprises.  I’ve been positively surprised by the quality of the work and diversity of the cases that come in for assessment – litigation funding is not all about class actions!

Q. How have you found working from home and joining a new team without the usual face to face team and individual interactions? Any particular challenges or advantages from working remotely?

A. Augusta makes a point of scheduling virtual “face to face” interactions between team members throughout the day, which has made the transition extremely easy despite the remote working arrangements.  With daily catch-ups, weekly team drinks and other meetings throughout the day, it sometimes feels like there are more opportunities to interact with colleagues than if we were all in the office!