Gary Barnett reflects on his first year at ILFA

Gary Barnett is the Executive Director and General Counsel of the International Legal Finance Association (ILFA), a role he stepped into approximately a year ago after serving in various senior roles at the U.S. Department of Justice, as well as the U.S. Senate. We sat down with Gary to hear about how the first year has been, what his priorities are for the organization in the next year, and more.

LFA is hosting its first conference next month. Tell us a little bit more about it and what are you hoping to get out of it for the organization.

Gary Barnett: As commercial legal finance continues to grow, it was important for the industry’s trade association to begin hosting an annual industry conference to gather not just funders, but the entire legal finance ecosystem. Education is a pillar of ILFA’s mission, and the conference is an important part of this.

Our inaugural conference will take place on October 24 at the Morgan Library in New York City. Speakers and participants include the world’s foremost legal finance experts as well as senior lawyers from Fortune 500 companies and top global organizations such as Nestlé, Hewlett Packard Enterprises, Raytheon, Fox Corp, Aramark, ICSID, and the USPTO, in addition to lawyers from top law firms including many from the Am Law 100. The day will comprise of discussions on how corporations and law firms can best utilize legal finance to reduce risk and optimize the value of their legal assets. Topic focus areas include international arbitration, intellectual property, the role of data in law and legal finance, risk mitigation and more.

We hope that many of your readers will join us. For more information on the conference and to register, please visit our conference website at https://conference.ilfa.com/.

You’ve just passed the one-year mark at ILFA. How has the first year been? What does your role consist of?

GB: I’ve had an exciting first year as the Executive Director of ILFA, the only global association of commercial legal finance industry. Although it is my first year in the role, we are actually celebrating our two-year anniversary. ILFA’s membership continues to grow as we solidify our place as the voice of our industry.

One of my favorite aspects in my role as Executive Director relates to the growth of our chapter level engagement. We believe it is important for ILFA to speak globally and act locally. We have active chapters in the United Kingdom, continental Europe, Australia and the United States and we are seeing interest both from a membership perspective and from the industry more generally in regions such as South America, the Asian pacific, and the Middle East. I am looking forward to our continued growth and our work and achievements in year two.

What surprised you the most about the industry after stepping into this role?

GB: Our industry is extremely innovative, and I am consistently impressed with the depth of innovation, which drives growth and provides opportunities for the development of new client products. Funders continue to find creative ways to deploy capital — for example, with the monetization of legal assets, which enables companies to better manage budget and cashflow, keeping capital in the business for growth. When utilized, companies no longer have to wait until the judgment is enforced to access their award, which can take years.

What do you see as the biggest challenges facing the industry right now and what are your priorities for the organization over the next 12 months?

GB: As the legal finance industry grows, we will continue to engage, educate and influence legislative, regulatory and judicial authorities about our industry and how it benefits business and society. As many of your readers know, there are organizations that spend a great deal of time and money spreading misinformed views about the legal finance industry and lobbying for regulations that would hinder or completely prohibit legal finance. Debunking these myths is a priority for ILFA in 2023.

We have also seen growing interest in our industry from legislators, regulators, and judicial authorities globally, as well as arbitration bodies like UNCITRAL. It is encouraging to see policymakers take time to learn about our industry along with the benefits it provides to business and society. ILFA’s role is to ensure that our industry can not only grow but thrive. The more we can educate and inform, the more that commercial legal finance will be understood and utilized. This is good for legal systems and the rule of law everywhere.

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