We recently hired our first full-time employee, Marla Decker, and we could not be more excited to have her as part of the team. Without further introduction, here is Marla, on how she came to join Lake Whillans, and her views on litigation finance and the legal industry.
The litigation finance market is growing and so is Lake Whillans. I’ve recently joined Lake Whillans as a Managing Director and couldn’t be more excited to join the field and the firm.
Before I explain my enthusiasm, let me tell you a little about me. I started my post-collegiate career as a consultant helping companies develop internet-based applications (back before there was an “app” for everything). After five years (and the bust of Dotcom bubble), I went to law school. It has been a good fit. Law has suited me much better than the techie life ever did.
After law school, I joined Cleary Gottlieb where I focused on complex commercial disputes, and was named a New York Rising Star by Super Lawyers magazine in 2014 and 2015. In my eight years at Cleary, I worked on dynamic and challenging cases, including being part of the team that recently tried a multi-billion dollar dispute over the assets of the former telecom Nortel Networks in an unprecedented joint trial before U.S and Canadian courts. I was privileged to work with and against the finest litigators around the world, and it taught me a tremendous amount.
This past summer I reconnected with an old friend and colleague, Boaz Weinstein, a founder of Lake Whillans. I had worked with Boaz early in my career at Cleary on a pro bono case that resulted in the release of a man wrongfully imprisoned for over 25 years. I knew that Boaz had started a litigation funding company, but that was pretty much all I knew. Litigation finance was not on my radar, but that quickly changed after discussions with Boaz and his partner Lee Drucker led to a job offer at Lake Whillans. I started talking to everyone I could, from colleagues and other lawyers to friends and family to a law professor who studies litigation finance.
What I learned is that litigation finance is an exciting and growing area with fewer naysayers than supporters that is taking hold in the U.S. Most people seem to agree that it will soon be part of the norm when companies consider how to manage the costs of litigation. I personally became enamoured with what litigation finance means for companies, for lawyers, and our legal system. For example, here are just a few enhancements made possible by litigation finance.
- Leveling the playing field. This benefit of litigation finance gets the most attention, as it should, because it appeals to basic notions of fairness that our legal system is supposed to protect. With the availability of litigation financing, the little guy, the small company that is struggling to stay afloat, does not need to go under when a deep pocketed adversary with the resources to out-litigate has committed a wrong that should be remedied.
- Allowing companies to pursue business objectives. For many companies, it may not make sense to spend short-term cash flow on litigation even when there is a meritorious claim (or defense). The company may simply not have the cash or might have it, but would rather deploy it towards revenue-generating operations, longer-term business development efforts or paying down debt to name just a few options. With litigation finance, companies will not need to make the unfortunate choice between pursuing meritorious litigation or its strategic business objectives (for more on this topic, click here).
- Bringing meritorious cases before the courts. Litigation finance companies will only be successful if they invest in meritorious cases. Our legal system needs more of the good cases to be litigated so that the law provides accountability and is clear on the boundaries of bad commercial behavior. It is often said that bad facts make bad law. The converse is also true: good facts can make good law. Litigation funders bring those good facts to our common law system.
After exploring these pros and others – including Lake Whillans’ commitment to being the leader in litigation finance, innovative growth, and a positive family-friendly work culture – it was an easy decision to join Lake Whillans. I can’t wait to see what happens next.