Andrew Rudder successfully transitions from Big Firm to Solo Practice

How BridgePoint's innovative law firm funding solutions helped at every stage to bring his firm to life

Andrew Rudder successfully transitions from Big Firm to Solo Practice

This article was produced in partnership with BridgePoint Financial.

Andrew Leroy Rudder has always fostered an entrepreneurial spirit and a dedication to delivering unparalleled representation to his clients.  Witnessing plaintiffs being denied justice deeply resonated with Rudder and solidified his career ambition to be a dedicated advocate and achieve favourable outcomes for his clients.

“Personal injury law resonated with me, especially the niche area of catastrophic impairment where people are truly in their darkest hour,” Rudder recalls. “I wanted to show them a light at the end of the tunnel and get them the justice they deserved.”

The cost of forging a solo path

After obtaining his law degree, Rudder joined an established personal injury firm only to find his experience was at odds with his philosophical approach. Recognizing that jumping to another firm would be more of the same, Rudder decided to start his own firm. This allowed him to shape his practice according to his values and create a firm that provide the opportunity to deliver unwavering advocacy to his clients.

He launched his firm at the tail-end of the COVID-19 pandemic — “People thought I was crazy, but there’s never an ideal time in life to do anything,” Rudder notes — but while his intentions were noble, there was the reality of getting a business off the ground. From generating leads to marketing campaigns to obtaining expert reports, starting a law practice is expensive and with no cash flow nor assets, traditional banks were reluctant to loan Rudder the money he needed to move his personal injury files along.

Trevor Regan, who had previously worked at a bank understood the challenges faced by lawyers looking to start their own law firm

“BridgePoint recognizes the value these firms have that banks can’t fully tie into as part of their security package,” Regan, now Business Development Manager at BridgePoint, says. “We bridge that gap with our products, allowing firms to grow without using their own money, in areas banks can’t comprehend.”

Regan connected with Rudder, explained BridgePoint’s offerings, and set the young lawyer up to take advantage of them.

“He’s fighting the good fight, but he’s building a contingency practice in personal injury where cash is king,” Regan recalls. “I told him, BridgePoint can help.”

A solution for every stage

Rudder was all-in immediately, recognizing that BridgePoint “understood the contingency fee business model better than my bank, their funding solutions were tailor-designed for it, and they enabled me to make payments that perfectly mirrored my settlement cash flow.”

One of the biggest challenges Rudder faced as a fledgling firm was affording expert reports. Whether medico-legal, income loss, future costs of care, or forensic engineering, reports level the playing field with defendant insurance companies and are critical for personal injury lawyers. Rudder needed expert reports to bolster his initial files for higher settlements or just verdicts, but he didn’t have the funds to pay for them upfront.

Without a track record of generating annual revenue and no assets, the bank couldn’t help Rudder — but BridgePoint could, via its unique Expert Access product. Rudder had access to a wide range of qualified experts across Canada through its portal, providing secure online access to his plaintiff account details in real-time.

“After I find the expert I want and approve their estimate, I have the option to defer payments for their reports until settlement with no interest for two years,” Rudder, still an avid user of Expert Access, notes. “That deferral is important because by the time I'm ready to obtain an expert, I’m within two years of setting it down for trial.”

For Regan, at any stage of a business — particularly in its infancy — not capitalizing on free money over two years is “absolutely a missed opportunity.”

“Lawyers can reinvest in their own business at no expense to the firm, it grows at the cost of someone else’s money,” he adds, and the same principle applies to BridgePoint’s File Funder product, a flexible and affordable way to finance individual disbursements. Funding is repaid upon settlement of the underlying file, once again aligning with a firm’s cash flow, and while interest accrues immediately, “it’s still using somebody else’s money and for dollars invested, they’re getting a great multiple — greater than the interest rate we’d charge at an annual rate.”

Looking ahead as he expects more cases to come in and more disbursements to stack up, Rudder intends to rely on File Funder throughout this growth to get his firm to that next stage of development. Rudder has also leveraged Loan Buyout to resolve an outstanding loan from another lending company, as BridgePoint consistently provides competitive interest rates, and he has this option in his arsenal as well should he require it.

A partner throughout your firm’s evolution

Ultimately, BridgePoint is there throughout a firm’s evolution, empowering the entrepreneurs who run them. For Regan, BridgePoint is delivering on its mission to offer products no other lender can, and its two-decade track record of success is a testament to the quality of its solutions — and Rudder’s practice is proof of that.

“BridgePoint’s products have allowed me to adapt to the evolving needs of my law firm, by providing funding solutions at the major milestones of its growth,” Rudder affirms, adding that partnering with a lender who recognized his ambition was the best decision he made because it provided him with the tools he needed to be the difference he wanted to see.

“Starting my own law firm helps the next generation believe it’s possible to do the same and I continue to pay it forward,” Rudder says. “I’m currently mentoring young lawyers so they can be better than me. The only thing I ask for in return is that they pay it forward too. That's how we evolve.”

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