October 3, 2022


Enduring Values

How lawful finance money facilities ability regulation firm growth and innovation

Law firms are dollars companies. When dollars flow and liquidity are significant, portfolio funding offers a completely ready source of funds for companies to regulate fees and mitigate the chance of affirmative litigation.

Company consumers more and more want their legislation companies to operate on some type of benefits-dependent engagement, in which irrespective of whether, how much and when a law company is paid tie right to the supreme good results of the individual engagement. For some companies, this cost product aligns beautifully with their business product of doing work on highvalue affirmative business litigation and arbitration on a contingency product in exchange for a part of the frequently significant upside of a large judgment or award. For other firms, affirmative litigation carries the concomitant unpredictability of hard cash circulation timing, and of system, managing hard cash circulation is essential to legislation business operations and profitability. Authorized finance portfolio facilities offer the operating capital required for legislation companies to get new customers, spend in organization progress and regulate companion compensation so that litigation lawyers can do the job on multiyear contingency matters.

Firms that serve shoppers on contingency come across two worries. 1st, plaintiff-aspect litigators really do not get paid out if the client’s case does not earn. 2nd, even when the shopper does prevail, the unpredictable timing of hard cash movement to the legislation firm impedes that firm’s capability to take on new business and develop. Other law firms—typically more substantial, extra entire-service firms—are often unwilling or unable to consider on any meaningful danger and prefer to continue to be paid out employing the standard billable hour design. These firms possibility getting rid of do the job to litigation boutiques and other corporations that are willing to consider contingent risk. Legal finance can assistance both sorts of firms evolve to give customers the benefits-based engagements they are wanting for.

While many regulation companies (or their fundamental purchasers) use authorized finance for a one substantial-price, significant-hazard make any difference, they may perhaps be unaware that firms can also accessibility money as a result of a portfolio financing facility. This sort of constructions let them to think past the hourly payment or pure contingency design. Portfolio funding bundles issues into a single diversified funding motor vehicle. The capital funding can either address lawful expenses linked with the fundamental issues or serve as running capital for the regulation agency or corporation. As with all legal finance solutions, as a result of portfolio amenities, the provider shares chance with the recipient.

Burford pioneered law organization portfolio finance in 2010. Here’s what we have learned about how portfolio financing allows legislation companies go to industry and gain company in a lot more nimble and ground breaking methods.

3 Usual portfolio services

Authorized finance suppliers tailor portfolios to a client’s certain requirements and docket. In typical, there are a few widespread portfolio structures. 

Monetization portfolio

Contingency expenses in unresolved litigation and arbitration issues signify precious pending regulation agency assets that can be monetized to present cash to the agency in progress of case resolutions and award payouts. A monetization portfolio is built close to numerous “anchor cases” that are substantial or near to maturation. The authorized finance business supplies upfront cash based on its perseverance of the possible benefit of people lawful property and the firm’s corresponding expected price. The funds can then be used by the company to choose on additional possibility-centered issues or be made use of as working cash for firm’s other operational wants. Legislation corporations that have substantial present books of contingency litigation at various stages, as perfectly as more scenarios of varying dimensions and profiles, make excellent candidates for monetization portfolios.

Hazard-share portfolio

In a chance-share arrangement, the portfolio normally consists of at minimum four or five large scenarios, all of which can possibly be determined at the outset or additional on afterwards. The capital is used to spend a portion of the firm’s authorized fees and some or all of its 3rd-social gathering costs as they are incurred. Legislation firms that want to invest in new organization or expand their portfolios of issues taken on risk profit from threat-share portfolios.


A legislation company may possibly just take hazard on its personal legal fees but want to reduce shelling out for third-occasion out-of-pocket charges, which can be as a lot as 25% of a case’s prices and have to have companies to dedicate not just attorney time to a make any difference, but basically use their possess hard cash on hand to pay for all those bills. An bills-only portfolio facility eradicates or mitigates the fiscal pressure of expenses rising steeply more than the everyday living of the scenario, serving to law companies and their customers to deal with hazard and funds move. 

Safety in quantities: Portfolio financing lowers threat and raises option

Legal finance empowers law agency litigators—no matter the price tag framework or threat appetite of the firm—to serve customers on 100% contingency simply because the finance provider shares the possibility. The actual percentage will range according to how considerably of the upside the shopper needs to continue to keep. The instant end result will be the same: Dollars coming in to spend the bills right up until cases solve.

Commonly, portfolios comprise a blend of better- and lower-risk cases and issues across different observe areas. A diversified portfolio of unrelated and uncorrelated but cross-collateralized matters provides decrease danger to the finance company, and hence the expense of capital is decrease for the law agency. Legislation firms then have additional agility to get on affirmative issues for their customers and maximize organization revenue and profitability. 

Lawful finance also helps regulation firms be much more entrepreneurial and opportunistic in locating cases and customers. With a legal finance portfolio in spot, litigators can associate with their company colleagues to develop new business enterprise that could not have in any other case existed or that the organization would not normally have been in a placement to get. In truth, many firms have unpursued affirmative litigation that they might be unaware of or really do not take into consideration affordable to go after. For example, in Burford’s 2022 Affirmative Restoration Systems Report, a few of 5 GCs interviewed said their organizations neglected to purse meritorious recoveries in the 12 months prior and cited the cost of pursuing claims, judgments and awards as a determining issue. Even the most advanced commercial actors can be plaintiffs. Company lawyers can deliver in their litigation partners to fulfill with their firm’s present company clients and assessment precious affirmative promises that can now be asserted on a contingent or other choice basis since the pursuit is backstopped by a portfolio deal. Obtaining all set money to disburse by using a portfolio facility can make litigation pitches and proposals additional attractive to these clients. 

Portfolio finance: No one particular measurement suits all 

A portfolio’s composition commonly reflects a law firm’s measurement and propensity for alternate fee preparations (AFAs). Boutique litigation shops are frequently cozy living in a entire world of contingency engagements, but they may perhaps battle to sustain steady running funds though they wait around for issues to take care of. Portfolio 1 funding smooths out the income-circulation lumpiness inherent in contingency techniques and lets these firms to continue getting on chance and growing their customer foundation and scenario load.

At the other end of the spectrum, Massive Regulation firms, with some noteworthy exceptions, are commonly unwilling to take into consideration AFAs for plaintiff-facet litigation. The inherent uncertainty of affirmative litigation can be sensitive, if not prohibitive, for comprehensive-support companies with increased set-price tag structures. For instance, at these firms, corporate attorneys, who bill hourly and get paid out routinely, could not be prepared to shoulder the cost of protracted litigation for a long time on conclude. That explained, we are viewing more Huge Regulation corporations figure out the option in sophisticated, large-benefit plaintiff litigation and adopting programmatic techniques to legal finance, for example, via the development of contingency or litigation finance committees. For these firms, portfolio funding can show a completely ready resolution to help assess opportunity AFA or contingent scenarios and streamline and bring discipline and course of action to scenario financing determination-creating. In this way, portfolio funding helps corporations stay clear of advertisement hoc final decision-building all around which circumstances to get on danger and making authorized funding selections in a dollars crunch.

All funds is not equal: Greater practical experience raises price

When sharing the possibility by means of legal finance, the resource of funds will make all the big difference. An knowledgeable exterior financier will have analyzed a better quantity of cases worth a bigger overall price mixed than any regulation organization or in-property authorized section would have the chance to evaluation. A finance company decides with the legislation company on standards to identify which situations are ideal for probable portfolio inclusion. These parameters could cover unique follow areas, selected sized conditions and matters originating from a distinct workplace or region. A provider’s due diligence contains discerning irrespective of whether the funded counterparty has ample skin in the activity based on that certain law firm’s appetite for possibility. An seasoned lawful finance provider will then evaluate the prospective issues and identify which to include and at what rate centered on the information set and expertise amassed by means of examining 1000’s of probable investments. Following inventing the legal finance portfolio in 2010, as of 2021 Burford has funded 129 these kinds of capital amenities, representing a $3.6 billion complete commitment benefit .2

Law companies are hard cash corporations. When hard cash movement and liquidity are essential, portfolio financing offers a prepared supply of funds for firms to control bills and mitigate the threat of litigation. Further, portfolio financing supplied by a complex lawful finance associate like Burford makes overall flexibility to earn new organization with interesting charge preparations, make investments in the agency and regulate the compensation of companions performing on multiyear contingency matters. 

Go through scenario scientific tests and worked examples that illustrate how legislation corporations use portfolio finance.