Posted by Chris Deadman, director of operations at Litigation Futures Associate Invicta Capital Funding
A few years ago, I attended a workshop for entrepreneurs in the legal sector. Apart from my long-held view that anyone who uses the word ‘workshop’ outside of a light engineering context needs to give their head a serious wobble, it got me thinking about what people really expect from their legal teams.
The event itself was populated almost entirely by individuals who, were they fashioned from chocolate, would have no further need of sustenance. Young and perfectly coiffured professionals, primped, preened and thrusted their way through various networking sessions (another term for ‘meeting people’) and break-out groups (I have no idea what this means).
At the end of the event, they all roundly declared that they and only they had found the key to what their clients really want and left to create websites bearing such legends as ‘We at Smug & Vain really understand the needs of YOUR business’.
Like some maiden aunt playing a version of dead relative bingo, over the years I have kept pace with the fortunes of these proto-entrepreneurs. Most, if not all of these businesses, have risen without trace. It would seem that they did not understand the needs of business quite as well as they had predicted.
My knowledge of what clients are after does not extend beyond litigation. I do, however, recall a conversation several years ago with a very experienced litigator who told me that, more than anything, clients involved in litigation (particularly owner-managed businesses) wanted simple piece of mind.
He said that we often forget that the months preceding the client walking through the door of the lawyer’s office were filled with uncertainty, fear, sleepless nights and marital stress, all of which were a direct result of this nameless thing hanging over them.
It does not matter whether they were a claimant or a defendant – both sides were worried about the outcome and the effect that failure would have on their finances and employees.
Up to that point, they had probably exhausted themselves stemming the tide of correspondence, telephone calls and the ever-increasing volume threats. By the time the lawyer is instructed, the client invariably just wants someone to share the burden and make the problem go away. Or to put it another way, a good night’s sleep.
And at its very essence, that’s what litigation finance provides.
Forget about its ability to ‘unlock the value of a claim’ or the manner in which it can turn a ‘contingent liability into a contingent asset’. Whilst both of those statements are true, the biggest benefit is that it removes the worry associated with the cost of litigation and delivers genuine peace of mind for the claimant.
Not the most shattering of conclusions, I agree, but one which is likely to last longer than ‘Smug & Vain’.