Background info: Eric Schuller is President of The Alliance for Responsible Consumer Legal Funding (ARC). ARC’s mission as a nonprofit trade association is to maintain consumer legal funding as a viable financial solution. Legal funding provides plaintiffs money to help cover the unexpected loss of income resulting from accident and injury claims.
Unfortunately, many plaintiffs would be compelled to settle for far less than the fair settlement amount their case is worth without access to consumer legal funding. Eric Schuller works to increase an accurate awareness of consumer legal funding. That way, more plaintiffs can access legal funding when they need it.
Interview with Eric Schuller
Aaron Winston had the unique opportunity to interview Eric Schuller, the top Government Affairs Expert in the consumer legal funding industry.
Question: How does consumer legal funding help the consumer?
Eric Schuller: It allows the consumer to level the playing field. Insurance providers have nearly unlimited resources to dispute a claim. Consumer Legal Funding enables the consumer to have the ability to withstand the lengthy claims process. By ensuring they can maintain the income they need.
Question: When did you first hear about consumer legal funding, and what were your initial thoughts?
Eric Schuller: I have worked in this space for over a decade now. When I found out about it and learned how it helps consumers, I realized it was a financial product that needed to be available for consumers.
Question: What accomplishment in the world of consumer legal funding are you most proud of?
Eric Schuller: My success in working alongside state legislators to properly regulate the industry. Putting forward legislation that regulates it so that it is available to consumers and has safeguards to ensure those offering the product are doing it responsibly.
Question: From an outsider’s perspective, it appears that your role as President of ARC is all-encompassing. What would you include in a hypothetical job description for a hypothetical job listing on Indeed for President of ARC? Of course, no one is capable of filling your shoes.
Eric Schuller: The one big thing is to have the ability to look at the whole picture and not just what is directly in front of you. Get to understand the position of those who oppose you. Sun Tzu said, “If you know the enemy and know yourself in a hundred battles you will never be in peril. When you are ignorant of the enemy but know yourself, your chances of winning or losing are equal. If ignorant both of your enemy and yourself, you are certain in every battle to be in peril.”
Question: As a consumer legal funding advocate, what would you say is the most significant challenge you face day in and day out?
Eric Schuller: Getting those that oppose us and [the] legislators to understand that Consumer Legal Funding is not a loan and should not be treated as such. It is easy for people to “lump” things into buckets rather than take the time to really learn about it.
Question: No system is perfect, and we can’t live in a utopia. Still, If you could change one thing about how the consumer legal funding industry operates, what would that be?
Eric Schuller: The preconceived notion that people at the companies are out to “screw over” consumers.
Question: Too often, opponents of consumer legal funding attempt to lump together consumer legal funding with commercial litigation funding, albeit a faulty argument. What is your response to their baseless claim?
Eric Schuller: I get to the basics. Consumer Legal Funding ensures a consumer has a roof over their head and can provide for their family while their legal claim is making its way through the system. None of the funds go to pay for any of the legal expenses to further the litigation. Commercial Litigation Financing does just that. It finances the cost of litigation. The vast majority of commercial litigation financing are businesses and not consumers.
Question: How do you typically introduce yourself to legislators and elected officials?
Eric Schuller: As the President of ARC, and that I represent the leading companies in the industry.
Question: Of late, it appears you have made significant inroads with the historically hostile insurance industry. To what do you attribute that shift?
Eric Schuller: I try to find common ground. No matter what the situation is, there is always something that people agree upon. That is where you start.
Question: Besides consumer protections, what is the benefit for the consumer legal funding industry to have states enact legislation to regulate consumer legal funding?
Eric Schuller: Ensuring that there is a stable environment for the business to operate. When there is a stable, regulated environment for business, it benefits everyone.
Question: How did your “life before ARC Legal Funding” prepare you for your role as president, such as your experiences in the Army?
Eric Schuller: I guess the ability to look at the whole picture. In the Army, if you focus on just what is just in front of you, you will miss the attack from behind you. That is the same with legislative and regulatory issues.
Question: Where do you see yourself in 10 years? Still President of ARC? What about the consumer legal funding industry in 10 years?
Eric Schuller: Who knows. [pause] Just trying to get through the next ten months [big smile].
Question: Historically, top leaders of industries seem to point back to a mistake or regret in their career, but they learned from it. What is that moment in time for you?
Eric Schuller: I wish I would have done more to reach out to other interested parties, i.e., “the other side” earlier. I think that would have put us in a better position today.
Question: Where did you grow up? Going back in time, do you recall coming across an injured plaintiff who could have benefited from consumer legal funding before it was available?
Eric Schuller: I have lived most of my life in the Chicago area, other than my time overseas with the Army. I have known friends who could have used it before I was aware of the industry.
Question: Have you considered writing your brainchild version of How To Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie? What concepts would you cover? Can I preorder a signed copy?
Eric Schuller: No, I think that there has been enough written about the subject.
- Takeaway #1: Consumer legal funding levels the playing field vs. insurance companies. The funds allow plaintiffs to hang in there and get a more fair settlement amount.
- Takeaway #2: Regulation of the consumer legal funding industry is good. That is what the trade association ARC Legal Funding is about.
- Takeaway #3: Consumer legal funding is not the financing of lawsuits. The pre-settlement money can’t be used for legal fees or case expenses. Legal funding’s purpose is to ensure a consumer can afford necessities like staying in their home or getting to work.
- Takeaway #4: Consumer legal funding plays a vital role in today’s legal system.
Express Legal Funding thanks Eric Schuller for taking the time to do this interview and share his expert legal funding insight with us. We now have a better understanding of what it means to be the President of The Alliance for Responsible Consumer Legal Funding.
Who is Eric Schuller?
- Eric Schuller is a Government Affairs Expert
- A leading consumer legal funding expert and advocate
- Top expert and up to date on legislation affecting consumer legal funding
- President of The Alliance for Responsible Consumer Legal Funding
- Retired Army Veteran. 22 years serving in Army and National Guard
- Military background in Military and Police Intelligence Operations
- Direct of Government and Community Affairs at Oasis Financial
- Advisory Board Member of the Dispute Financing Library of the Center on Civil Justice at NYU School of Law
- Advisory Board Member of the After the Impact Fund
- Advanced State Government Affairs: Gold Level
- Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago in Business Administration
- Eric Schuller’s LinkedIn
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About the Author
Aaron R. Winston is the Strategy Director of Express Legal Funding. As "The Legal Funding Expert," Aaron has more than ten years of experience in the consumer finance industry. Most of which was as a consultant to a top financial advisory firm, managing 400+ million USD in client wealth. Aaron Winston is recognized as an expert author and researcher across multiple SEO industries.
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