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Looking at the next decade of legal finance with... Joshua Harris

This week, Burford celebrates its first decade in business. As we look ahead to the next decade, we've asked a group of relatively new Burford employees to share their perspective on our ten-year milestone and how they think the industry will grow and evolve.

Joshua Harris is a Vice President of Burford’s underwriting and investment arm.

What do you consider to be the biggest area of opportunity for legal finance in patent and IP in the years ahead?

One of the growing areas of opportunity is in the pharmaceutical space, specifically in the 505(b)2 space.  Here, in the “branded generic” space, the 505(b)(2) applicant may face many legal and regulatory challenges encountered by conventional generic manufacturers, but the applicant also enjoys the opportunity to create its own markets and obtain its own patent protection as a traditional innovator would.  Legal finance can facilitate and support innovative activity in this sector by mitigating the expected patent litigation risk.  At least in the US, pharmaceutical patent litigation has been fairly antiquated since the 1984 Hatch Waxman legislation and subsequent amendments where you have a branded pharmaceutical manufacturer with a patent suing a multitude of proposed generic manufacturers. The state of play has not changed appreciably in many years and there are many inefficiencies with the way the process works. The incentives are not yet optimized even though the legislation has done a very good job of trying to do that. Legal finance and Burford are well-positioned to eliminate some of the hurdles and try to drive more appropriate competition in the field as opposed to the static way these litigations have been run in the past.

What legal finance trends do you see in Burford’s second decade?

The next ten years will be largely dependent on helping clients and potential clients think creatively about what Burford can provide and what problems legal finance providers can solve. The best thing that Burford can do is to listen to the needs of not only our current clients but also those who may one day become our clients whose problems we haven't yet addressed. When we speak with law firms, corporate entities, and individuals who are grappling with problems, our key step is to figure out how our products can work flexibly within their needs or create new products to do so. Law firms and corporate entities appreciate that this is an option for them to consider and utilize to solve problems—problems that some had for a long time and haven't yet perceived that legal finance can solve.