Funds: Law Firm Akin Gump Creates $5M VC Fund –

DALLAS – International law firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP expected to close its first venture capital fund, the $5 million Akin Gump Investment Partners 2000 LP at the end of April, said Eliot Raffkind, the partner at the firm in charge of organizing the new fund.

The firm decided to set up the fund to take advantage of the deal flow that passes through the office from its clients, which include venture firms and entrepreneurs. The fund intends to back a wide range of early-stage technology companies, including Internet, software and biotechnology businesses, Raffkind said.

Typical investments will range between $50,000 and $250,000, but the firm will consider investments as high as $500,000. The firm plans to back about 10 to 15 companies and have the fund fully invested within a year, Raffkind said.

Launched at the end of 1999, the fund is only open to the 257 partners at the firm who were invited to make personal investments, Raffkind said. The firm also made an undisclosed contribution to the fund on behalf of its associates and attorneys, he said.

To eschew any conflict of interest issues the fund might present to the firm, Akin Gump decided that when engaging in deals with its own clients, the firm would not negotiate. In such instances, Akin Gump will only join a deal after the terms have been set by another venture firm, placement agent or by the company itself.

Raffkind will manage the fund along with three other attorneys: Gary Lawrence, Rick Burdick and Cecil Schenker. The four-person investment committee will make decisions based on suggestions provided by Dallas-based consulting firm SunTX Capital Partners.

Founded in 1945, Akin Gump is an International law firm with some 900 lawyers based in offices around the world. The firm’s practice covers a wide range of specialties including intellectual property, labor and employment, estate planning, taxation, real estate and finance.

Raffkind added that Akin Gump plans to create a similar fund annually.