On the partnership track? Let litigation finance maximize your chance of success


The approaching end of the calendar year means that it’s officially announcement season for big law firms, as associates will learn what year-end bonuses they can expect, and a select few top senior associates will learn if they’ve earned the biggest bonus of all: partnership status.

By now, the conventional wisdom on how young associates can maximize their chances to make partner is well established. In order to stay in the game, associates usually spend the better part of a decade meeting (and likely far exceeding) annual billable hour thresholds; establish tight relationships with powerful senior partners at the firm; build their own network and book of business; and, last but not least, consistently churn out top-notch legal work product on tight deadlines while balancing other projects.

Truly, there is no substitute for hard work when climbing the rungs of the law firm ladder. But the numbers suggest that simply working harder isn’t enough. Large law firms hire dozens if not hundreds of new associates every year, yet typically only name a handful of new partners. Many associates leave voluntarily long before they could ever be considered for partnership, but some will hit their billable hours targets year-after-year and still inevitably will fall short of the brass ring. The most valuable members of a law firm are those who are simultaneously able to add the most value to the firm (e.g., by bringing in new business) and to the client (e.g., by achieving a great result, preferably at a reasonable price).

Put another way, working long hours is necessary but not sufficient for partnership, and building a book of business that would add value to a large law firm is nearly impossible because billable hours requirements take up precious hours and established partners typically dominate client relationships. So what else can interested associates gunning for partner do to catch the eye of the partnership committee? In short, they are best served by adopting a broader understanding of what it means to really “add value” by familiarizing themselves with innovative litigation solutions that partners who have been in practice longer may not typically consider. 

Litigation funding represents one such opportunity. Like the best lawyers, Bentham IMF’s litigation finance products are designed to add value to law firms and clients alike. As one example, a law firm might work with Bentham on a portfolio basis, by which the firm could obtain non-recourse financing for litigation portfolios of three or more commercial cases. When the firm collects contingency fees from one or more of the financed cases, it pays Bentham a multiple of the amount funded. In so doing, the firm can more accurately predict its income, offer a flexible billing arrangement for its clients, and offload some risk. As another example, a firm could recommend that its cash-strapped client work directly with a funder to obtain non-recourse funding on a single-case basis. In that scenario, the client wins because it can pursue a preferable litigation strategy that it might not otherwise be able to afford, and the law firm wins because it is able to offer an outside-the-box solution for the client (and pursue claims that otherwise may have been abandoned due to lack of funds).

In order to stand out in what’s surely a crowded field, the savvy law firm associate should become familiar with litigation financing and feel comfortable adding it to their case strategy discussions as a new, powerful tool in the firm’s litigation kit. It might just add value to the associate’s career, too! To learn more about how commercial litigation funding benefits law firms while aligning their interests with those of their clients, contact us for a consultation.