Rufus Caine is a Vice President with responsibility for helping companies, in-house legal teams and their law firms optimize the value of their legal assets, including providing financing to maximize recovery proceeds and build high-value affirmative recovery programs.
You began your career as a litigator at Willkie Farr but your last two roles at Axiom Law and now Burford have been focused on working with in-house legal teams. What do you see as the biggest cultural gap separating in-house and law firm lawyers? How does this culture gap condition the challenges the two parties face in collaborating?
Law does not exist in a vacuum—for in-house lawyers, legal work is always performed in support of the larger business. Though this can be difficult for law firm lawyers to appreciate, it can also create opportunities: Outside counsel who bring commercial mindfulness to their work become trusted advisors to their clients. Commercial mindfulness means not only balancing legal and compliance risks with overall business goals, but also knowing how to be brief and punchy when delivering advice. Success requires the ability to look beyond the law when solving legal problems.
Given your work with in-house legal departments on innovating how they finance their legal assets, what insights can you offer to private practice lawyers?
When outside lawyers serve their clients well, they wear two hats: That of trusted advisor, and that of problem solver. Legal finance helps lawyers do both more effectively. Burford itself acts as a trusted advisor—and in the process of diligencing a case, we assess the viability of litigation, performing a quantitative analysis of potential outcomes and damages. This analysis adds value to clients, who appreciate that their firm has taken the additional step of bringing in a third-party that can offer a complimentary perspective on litigation risk and damages. Legal finance also helps in-house lawyers solve several of their most pressing problems: Generating cash, offloading expenses and shifting risk. As a result, legal finance can allow legal departments to pursue meritorious claims that they otherwise wouldn’t, making it a powerful business development tool for law firm lawyers.
What have you been hearing from GCs and in-house leaders since the Covid-19 crisis began?
Since the crisis began, in-house leaders have been more thoughtful about protecting corporate dollars. Naturally, legal departments face greater budget scrutiny in a recession, but I’ve increasingly seen GCs and other in-house leaders think of ways to add value proactively. Moreover, there’s been real interest in both traditional fees and expenses financing—for companies looking to better manage their budgets—and in monetization, for companies looking for tap into the value of future litigation proceeds and obtain immediate and guaranteed access to cash.
The Covid-19 crisis and concurrent economic downturn will pose novel challenges to companies around the world. What advice would you give to GCs and in-house leaders?
The current crisis is an opportunity for GCs and in-house leaders to take a fresh look at legal finance, which can seamlessly address challenges around budget, cash and risk management. While many transformative tools require a lot of work, from retraining employees, to deploying new technology, to mapping out new processes, legal finance requires almost no additional work. There’s no team to train. No technology to roll out. No new process that needs to be implemented. So, legal finance is very attractive for companies wanting to implement a high-impact solution without having to endure the normal set of change management concerns that usually come with “innovation.” Moreover, given the uncertainty in the market, companies of all stripes—those feeling immediate pain on their bottom line and those looking to solidify an already strong cash position—find our non-recourse capital particularly attractive as a means to bring in millions and gain some much needed certainty around their litigation risks. Certainty and cash are key right now and our business provides both, so we’ve got a timely offering for the market.
Bonus: Name your 5 favorite aspects of living in the D.C. metro area
- It’s a big city with a small-town vibe
- Being in the nation’s capital
- Access to museums
- Beautiful architecture
- Great restaurants