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2022 Affirmative Recovery Programs Report

February 7, 2022


From cost center to revenue generator: Legal departments managing the risk and maximizing the value of commercial litigation and arbitration

In-house legal teams that establish more systematic affirmative recovery programs better manage the cost and risk of commercial litigation and arbitration. Burford conducted extensive one-on-one interview with 52 general counsel, heads of litigation and other senior legal leaders at major corporations around the world to uncover best practices and illustrate how legal finance can increase certainty around litigation budget and cash flows.

Highlights of this latest research appear below. Download the full report for deeper insights.

Affirmative recovery programs—though common—have room to grow

  • Affirmative recovery programs are increasingly common, with two of three GCs, heads of litigation and other senior in-house lawyers interviewed saying that their companies have an affirmative recovery program.
  • Only a few legal leaders say their companies have robust affirmative recovery programs.
  • Senior in-house lawyers recognize that when they do pursue affirmative recoveries, new tools to increase certainty and manage costs will lead to better results.

4 Fundamentals of effective affirmative recovery programs

To build more effective affirmative recovery programs, interviews suggest, legal leaders should adhere to four best practices:

  1. Adopt a systematic approach to pursuing affirmative recoveries
  2. Leverage data and insights
  3. Collaborate with finance and business unit peers
  4. Increase capital certainty and efficiency

Legal finance has a role to play

  • Senior in-house lawyers admit to varying levels of knowledge about legal finance, but many are hungry for more information—and many remain unsure about how it works.
  • In-house lawyers whose companies use legal finance consistently say their companies have robust affirmative recovery programs that meet their needs.
  • Reputation and experience top in-house lawyers’ priorities when selecting legal finance partners.

More systematic affirmative recovery programs benefit organizations, teams and leaders

  • Interviews with senior in-house lawyers suggest that more effective affirmative recovery programs benefit the overall enterprise, elevate legal within the organization and earn credit for legal teams for innovation and cost and risk management.
2 of 3
GCs interviewed say their companies have an affirmative recovery program

1 of 4
GCs say their company’s affirmative recovery programs need improvement, compared to 1 of 2 CFOs who say improvement is needed

2 of 3
GCs interviewed say pending claims are financial assets that represent future cash flow