Tom Balmer, Director of Business Development at TLS, dialed in with Susanna Taylor, a Senior Investment Manager with Litigation Capital Management (LCM). Susanna has 20 years of experience as a commercial litigator in both Australia and the UK. Based in Sydney, she has been with LCM for six years and involved in the funding of many high-profile cases whilst also sitting on the LCM Investment Committee in both APAC and EMEA.
Tom: Tell us a bit about your career thus far and how you ended in the world of litigation funding?
Susanna: My first job out of law school was at the Crown Solicitors Office working on an inquiry into the Glenbrook rail accident – this sparked my interest in litigation. After that I went to London and worked at Hammonds (now Squire Patton Boggs) before moving to Norton Rose Fulbright, where I did an amazing range of work across regulatory, commercial claims and a taste of class actions. It was working on the defence side of the Bathurst Regional Council claim (which was a funded class action) which first introduced me to litigation funding. I joined LCM in 2014 and really have never looked back – I love the combination of business development, case assessment for investment and monitoring the cases we are funding.
Tom: We met when our respective offices were very small. We’ve both seen huge growth over the last few years – to what do you attribute the success of LCM in the market?
Susanna: LCM has had a huge period of growth in the past six years, which I think is the result of a few key things:
- A proactive growth strategy – Our team is small but very high performing. Proactive business development is integral to our success and is something which everyone at LCM understands. We work in a relationships business, and the right investment opportunities are generated from having the right relationships – you can’t sit back and wait for these opportunities to come to you.
- The right culture – LCM is the kind of place where talented people want to work and, once employed, want to stay. Generating that kind of culture means people want to work not only for you, but also with you.
- Being an expert – Our team is made up of former litigators, meaning we understand the process of litigation and the particular elements of a case which make it more likely to result in a successful outcome. We are also experts in managing risk and in assisting our funded parties to do so.
Tom: Business development isn’t taught in law school, and it’s essential to the growth and success of a lawyer’s practice – do you have any tips on a successful business development strategy?
Susanna: I actually found business development in private practice really tricky – I worked in litigation and most corporates are seeking to avoid being involved in litigation! However, there are a few things that I’d recommend:
- Become an expert – Develop your profile and become known as a specialist in your particular area. This will grow your reputation and the referrals of work will follow.
- Tailor your strategy to your personality – Some people will be comfortable speaking to 500 people on a panel at a seminar, others will prefer growing relationships with a few individuals. I think the key to a successful business development strategy is to play to your strengths and work out how to utilise them to achieve results.
- Grow your network – Everyone has a network, and building this network in a meaningful and strategic way expands your business. Not everyone in that network will be a client, but as long as the first two points shine through, then you’ll find your name is passed on when someone is looking for your skill set or know-how.
Tom: What advice would you give the younger generation contemplating a career in law or just starting out?
Susanna: Get involved in an area that interests you and surround yourself with good mentors and teachers. Your career most certainly won’t stay the way it starts out, but the experience you gain will be useful for wherever you end up.
Tom: Now, a few wild-card questions! If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing?
Susanna: Living in an Italian hilltop town studying Italian and eating and drinking well!
Tom: What is your favourite hobby or activity outside of law?
Susanna: Bushwalking, seeing live music (sadly a memory for now) and my book club which I have been in for 17 years.
Tom: How has lockdown been for you?
Susanna: Challenging. I was not in an Italian hilltop town, unfortunately, but was working from home in Sydney with two children in a period which has been one of LCM’s busiest. That said, I have always worked flexibly, and I like the fact that this is now the norm rather than the exception!