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A Perspective on Litigation Finance from a BigLaw Attorney

The United States Chamber of Commerce and other critics of litigation finance would have you believe that the business of investing in litigation is one of payday lending’s shady cousins.  This characterization raises the question of why any serious lawyer would have anything to do with litigation finance.  A BigLaw attorney who recently moved from a prestigious firm to a litigation finance company explains why litigation finance was an attractive career move, and, in making that explanation, he rebuts many of the most negative myths and stereotypes of litigation finance.

Garrett Ordower is the model of a promising BigLaw attorney on the brink of great professional success.  He attended the University of Chicago Law School, where he was editor-in-chief of The University of Chicago Law Review. He had two prestigious clerkships with federal judges, one on the Second Circuit and the other in the Northern District of Illinois.  And then he began to work as a litigator for Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, one of the nation’s leading litigation firms.

Ordower enjoyed his practice experience because it compelled him to ask hard questions and engage in rigorous analysis.  As he put it, litigation practice involved looking through the lens of the law to ask questions like, “What facts matter in the particular legal context? What did they mean as applied to the law? And how do we present these facts and law most favorably to our client?”

Ordower began to learn about litigation finance through a college friend, who was involved with a litigation finance company.  He came to realize that success in litigation finance requires the same analytical skills as success in the litigation department at a big firm.  He explained that “[l]itigation finance combines all of those skills that I’ve learned through the years: the analysis of facts, the application of law, and, of course, the continual questioning of arguments, positions, and assumptions.”

So Ordower left the firm and moved to a litigation finance company. And even in the early stages of his career in litigation finance, he recognizes that those who invest in litigation do so only after a careful evaluation of the merits and prospects of a case.  They invest only when they can be confident that a case is well-founded and has a real chance to succeed.  Ordower’s description of how his new job works demonstrates exactly why litigation finance makes the justice system better and why its critics are so far off the mark:  “We seek to really learn the story, and then once we’ve digested it, to ask a lot of questions. We will question your facts and test your arguments.  We will engage in a candid dialogue about a case’s strengths and weaknesses. Doing so allows us to have confidence in our decisions and offer competitive terms. And those that explore funding with us will have the benefit of knowing they’ve received a full, fair, and honest evaluation.”

Topics: litigation finance, legal reform, third-party funding, litigation costs, alternative litigation finance, class actions, BigLaw, legal careers

Works Cited:  Garrett Ordower, Why Did I Go from BigLaw to Litigation Finance? Good Question,, Above the Law (Sept. 20, 2017) available at https://abovethelaw.com/2017/09/why-did-i-go-from-biglaw-to-litigation-finance-good-question/?rf=1