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.
Elizabeth Fisher is a Senior Vice President at Burford, based in London, focused on developing and expanding our relationships with law firms and companies across the UK and Europe.
Burford is increasingly working with in-house as well as law firm lawyers. How does the legal finance value proposition differ for companies versus law firms?
The benefits of legal finance to law firms and in-house lawyers are different yet complementary. For in-house lawyers, a key challenge is overcoming internal budgetary challenges to expend millions of dollars to pursue expensive commercial disputes. Burford’s recent Managing Legal Risk report identified this as a serious challenge for all companies, not just those with liquidity issues. In fact, the larger the company, the more likely they were to forgo claims due to the impact of associated legal expenses on the bottom line. This, combined with the need to ensure budget certainty, makes legal finance an increasingly attractive option, enabling corporates to pursue claims that will add more value to the business. For law firms, legal finance enables them to offer more client-friendly alternative fee arrangements to their key clients whilst not assuming the full contingent risk of doing so. As such, a corporate can continue to engage its law firm of choice. Moreover, law firms are increasingly using legal finance as an origination tool to better serve their clients, and as a problem-solving tool that can help build client relationships and foster growth.
What legal finance trends do you see in Burford’s second decade?
Many outside the legal finance industry assume that the industry’s rapid growth will lead to commoditization—with price being the key factor for selecting a legal finance partner. I believe that the opposite will be true. As the market for legal finance matures, law firms and corporates will become more sophisticated users of legal finance and will increasingly use it in ways resembling specialty corporate finance to move costs and risk off corporate balance sheets, to free up capital and for other business purposes. As a result, they will become more discerning in their choice of finance provider, with more weight given both to the ability to structure novel and bespoke financing deals as well as to conduct diligence and ongoing case management in-house.