By: Angela Arkwell
September 3, 2019
As Director of Client Relations at BridgePoint Financial, my day to day involves meeting with personal injury law firms and the experts who work with them, discussing their financial needs and challenges.
Insurers everywhere are taking a more hard-nosed approach to settling files resulting in lower settlement values, significant delays in obtaining settlements or waiting for trial dates under an increasingly overburdened court system.
Personal injury lawyers who once depended on fairly steady cash flow are increasingly dependent on third party financing such as personal or business lines of credit to keep their practices afloat. Out of pocket disbursement expenses - particularly the costly expert reports required to develop every file – add up to significant costs for any practice and are a growing burden to carry.
It’s not just law firms that are feeling the pinch in these lean times. The experts retained by the lawyers to build their cases – doctors, engineers, accountants and others – are no longer able or willing to hold their accounts receivable until settlement as they would in the past. They can’t afford to. Independent Medical Examination Centres, for example, must pay their doctors as they go, and face operating cash flow issues if they aren’t being paid on a timely basis.
The culmination of these market forces has created a major funding gap in the personal injury litigation market for those on the plaintiff side of the equation. Fortunately, BridgePoint has created the ideal solution.
We introduced our Expert AccessTM Program after being approached by both law firms and experts looking to remedy their financial dilemma. The Expert AccessTM Program allows our law firm clients to better manage and conserve their cash, yet still obtain top quality expert reports to achieve fair settlements for their clients. It ensures that those experts can be paid immediately for their services, thereby eliminating the real costs they incur in waiting for payment.
So how exactly does the Expert AccessTM Program work? It’s actually very simple. With the lawyers’ full knowledge and advance approval, BridgePoint buys the experts’ invoices as their services are rendered, saving the law firm the expense of doing so and the expert the expense of carrying the account. BridgePoint in turn offers the law firm the flexibility to pay the invoice (to BridgePoint) once the case is resolved and settlement funds are in hand – perfectly matching the law firm’s cash flows.
As the expert sells their account to BridgePoint at a slight discount, the law firm is not charged any interest on the invoice if it’s paid within two years of BridgePoint acquiring it. If the case extends beyond two years, the firm has the option to incur interest from month 25 or pay the account at the two-year mark.
So why would an expert accept a discounted payment from BridgePoint? Good question. One of the great features of the Expert AccessTM program is that it enables the experts who participate to avoid the costly administrative and financial burden of holding uncertain accounts for years potentially. We offer a bird in hand.
Does the expert simply add a “financing fee” or surcharge to the invoice to offset it? No, they don’t. In addition to the meaningful cost savings already noted, by generating new business from BridgePoint’s hundreds of dedicated law firm client users who also use the Expert AccessTM Program to find new experts, our partners can make up in volume the little they lose in margin.
This program has grown rapidly throughout Canada due to the benefits for all involved, and we have added the top experts and IME companies across Canada to our growing partnership roster, which already stands at over 500 leading professionals. Just recently BridgePoint added the ability for lawyers to search for experts by specialty area geographically through BridgePoint’s client portal.
The feedback from law firms has been tremendous – they love the matchmaking service as much as not having to carry so much in disbursements. You know what else they love? That we stay in our lane. BridgePoint has no involvement in the booking, pricing or content of reports. The law firms still decide which experts to use, and many introduce us to experts they wish to join the program. Via our online portal, administration of the program is simple, efficient and controlled by the law firm.
Where a firm requires funding for experts who are not or not yet on the Expert AccessTM partner roster, BridgePoint also offers direct disbursement financing with the most favourable terms of any litigation lender in Canada.
For more information about our programs click here or contact us at (888) 800-4966. Lawyers and experts wishing to try out the Expert AccessTM Program are welcome to email me directly: firstname.lastname@example.org.All Blog Posts