“Change or die”: So goes the Silicon Valley slogan that, like so many clichés, has an essential element of truth—and never more so than for the business of law. The year ahead offers new opportunities for lawyers willing to embrace change, and continued economic pressure for those who resist it.
Most lawyers know they can finance legal fees for single high-claims when the client or firm prefers not to bear the cost on its own balance sheet—but there are many more ways to apply legal finance.
- Finance more than fees
In the business of law, the focus tends to be on financing fees. But legal expenses from e-discovery to experts will pose an ever-greater burden in 2017. Burford helps corporate legal teams move those expenses off balance sheets, and we help firms offer expense financing to their clients in conjunction with or separate from financing fees.
- Finance on a portfolio basis
Among the fastest-growing areas of legal finance is portfolio-based financing, which provides flexibility and attractive terms for firms and corporate legal teams to reduce risk and cost across a range of matters—on a going-forward basis, following a range of models. Burford is the gold standard in innovative portfolio finance deals, having structured facilities of more than $100 million for clients from AmLaw 20 firms to the FTSE 20.
- Finance defense matters as well as transactional areas of law
Most “litigation funders” know only how to finance high-value commercial claims or plaintiff actions—leaving them unprepared to help companies that rarely bring lawsuits and need options for financing their far more frequent defense matters. With a deep bench of lawyers as well as investment bankers and subject matter experts, Burford has the expertise to finance defense as well as areas not typically considered for litigation finance—such as contentious tax disputes, mergers and acquisitions and “success fee” arrangements.
- Finance at any stage, from pre- to post-settlement
When settlements are subject to court approval or other claim or administrative processes, legal fees and awards may be delayed for years—but with the acquisition of Gerchen Keller, Burford is now equipped to help law firms and clients speed receipt of fees and awards. We offer the industry’s most competitive rates and the broadest range of options for legal fee and settlement monetization. As in most other areas of our business, we typically retain the risk non-recourse financing.
- Embrace “corporate finance for law” thinking
Law firms continue to work to professionalize business and financial management—in no small part because their clients need and expect them to. Burford remains at the forefront of financial strategy, planning and analysis for law, and we expect greater demand for strategic capital and financing insight in the year ahead.
In 2017, in-house counsel who take advantage of these opportunities can defray nearly all corporate legal cost, while law firms that fail to understand them risk ceding profitability and competitive ground.