Vanderbilt Law Review


Maya Steinitz

First Page



Assessing the value of legal claims is the sixty-four thousand dollar question (no pun intended) of civil litigation. Clients, as every litigator knows, often come into their attorneys' offices with a belief that they know how much their claim is worth. The attorney is then asked to validate that number. Alternately, clients can come to their attorneys with a grievance-I have been injured, a counter-party breached its contract with me, I have been fired, our rainforest has been devastated by a mining company-and ask the attorney for an assessment of how much their grievance might be worth. Contingency lawyers, who function as both attorneys and financiers, must make successful predictions on value in order to remain solvent, let alone to rake in a handsome profit, especially when contingency work is the entirety or the lion's share of their practice.'

Various developments in the legal profession and the market for legal services suggest that valuing legal claims may soon further affect additional circles of stakeholders. In the United Kingdom-the jurisdiction that pioneered the globalization of law firms and the liquidity in legal claims-the Legal Services Act recently legalized ownership of law firms by nonlawyers. As with the newfound liquidity of legal claims, here too the United Kingdom is bringing an Australian innovation closer to home. In a closely watched development in Australia, the plaintiffs' firm Slater & Gordon Ltd. became the first-ever publically traded law firm, listing its shares on the Australian Stock Exchange.

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