International Legal Finance Association (ILFA) gears up for 2024 New York Conference

The International Legal Finance Association (ILFA) – the world’s only global trade association for commercial legal finance – is gearing up to host its annual New York Conference on April 15, 2024. Set in the historic Morgan Library, the conference promises to bring together the industry’s foremost experts to consider issues including how innovation is driving growth in big law, whether insurance and legal finance really are two sides of the same coin, and more.

We talked to ILFA Executive Director Gary Barnett about his hopes for this year’s conference, who he’s most excited to hear speak and what he believes is the biggest challenge currently facing the industry.

1. Why do you think the conference has been so successful in the past? What are your goals for this year’s conference?

ILFA is very excited to host this upcoming event, which marks our second annual New York conference and our third overall. As the legal finance industry continues to develop and mature, we find there is a growing interest in industry events. The success of ILFA’s conferences reflects its unique position as the only global association for the commercial legal finance industry. ILFA’s conferences greatly benefit from the support and involvement of its members. These events allow ILFA to hold sessions on the most cutting-edge topics and secure speakers drawn from top corporate legal departments, law firms, and legal finance providers. This year’s New York conference will be no different and will remain the legal industry's premier conference to discuss the ongoing transformation in how corporate legal teams and law firms manage the cost and risk of their commercial litigation and arbitration.

2. A central theme of some of this year’s panels appears to be profitability – optimizing legal value, driving growth, and monetizing IP. What do you hope attendees will take away from these sessions? 

We pride ourselves on organizing an informative and substantive event where users and those interested in using legal finance can come to learn how legal finance can benefit them in a new or different way. Not only are our topics geared toward those interested in creating value in their legal departments or growing their law firm practice, but attendees get to hear directly from in-house lawyers from IBM, Corning Optical, and McLane Company, as well as law firm partners at Paul Hastings, Wilkie Farr, and Bartlitt Beck, to name a few.

Businesses dedicate significant capital to their litigation budgets every year, and these litigation costs are not decreasing. CFOs and GCs are seeking innovative ways to manage legal costs and derive value from their legal departments. The conference presents a unique opportunity to hear firsthand what their counterparts are doing and to gain insights into the variety of solutions offered by the legal finance industry.

3. Is there a panel discussion or panelist you are particularly interested in hearing?

Our signature panel is always the State of the Industry Panel. As the industry association, and unlike other conferences in this space, we offer the opportunity for attendees to hear directly from the heads of many of the largest funders. We also have our first-ever judges panel, which will be comprised of a number of current and former federal judges. This is an important perspective and a dialogue we are very keen to open. Finally, we always look to discuss the intersection between legal finance and the insurance industry. However, I’m particularly interested in hearing from key players in the insurance space, such as Lockton and VALE, about their industry’s increasing focus on the intellectual property space and other plaintiff-side offerings. 

4. As the industry continues to grow, so too do the challenges facing it. What do you think is the biggest issue currently facing litigation funders? Do any of the panels tackle this issue?

As I previously mentioned, our signature panel on the State of Industry always provides attendees with a discussion on where the industry is going, including some of the obstacles that will need to be overcome and misinformation that needs to be corrected. However, the conference is more focused on educating in-house lawyers, law firm partners, and the legal industry more generally on what legal finance is and what it is not. The panels are designed to allow those in attendance to leave more equipped to understand how businesses are currently benefiting from legal finance and how they can similarly provide value to their business or to the businesses they represent.

5. Who should attend the conference? Is it reserved for professionals in the litigation finance industry, or should in-house CFOs, GCs and others hoping to learn more about litigation finance also attend?  

The conference is open to anyone interested in learning more about the legal finance industry. Attendees will include leaders in law and finance — including CFOs, General Counsels, law firm lawyers, as well as the leading experts in legal finance.

It also serves as an opportunity to network with those who are engaged on a daily basis with the role that legal finance plays in today’s global marketplace.