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Exploring opportunities for foreign law firms: The Israeli Legal Market of 2015

An article by Adv. Zohar Fisher, Founder of Robus Legal Marketing, was published in the April volume of Law Firm Marketing Magazine, dealing with the Israeli legal market, in the eyes of foreign legal sectors. The magazine is a legal industry’s interactive digital marketing magazine (link to the magazine)

We wish to thank Cindy Speaker for the oppurtunity and the warm feedback. The full article can be seen below


 Exploring opportunities for foreign law firms: The Israeli Legal Market of 2015

Often dubbed as ‘The Land of Milk and Honey’, Israel seems to have added a few more identification marks to its name over the past decade, the most known is “The Startup Nation”, the one less known is- The Lawyers Nation

With 126 citizens per lawyer as of 2015, Israel is a world leader in lawyers per capita, with no signs of its legal market cooling down to date

This eye-catching figure is frequently discussed with regards to the lawyers in Israel. But the truth is that the Israeli legal market is much more complex and intriguing to be summed up with one datum. It is a place of broad opportunities for the seasoned lawyer – perhaps broader than ever – next to difficulties and challenges for others. How does that all fall into play

An ever promising economy

With world-class ingenuity in several rapidly growing sectors of its economy, a large well-educated English-speaking workforce and a well-disciplined fiscal and economic policy, there is little wonder why Israel’s economy is leading its region in most economic indexes, outperforming most West-European countries by GDP growth as well

The highest momentum, so it seems, is Israel’s success in the high-tech sector. 2014 saw the exits of startups in Israel totaling to an all-time record of USD 15 billion, nearly twice the figure of 2013 which stood at USD 7.6 billion

An additional sector of rapid economic growth is the energy sector. Particularly notable in this respect are the recent deep-water natural gas revelations (‘Tamar’ and ‘Leviathan’), the latter one being the largest gas field in the Mediterranean Sea and one of the largest discoveries in the world in the passing decade

Attention should also be called to the booming real-estate sector, which has seen housing prices rise by more than 50% in the past 7 years. And where businesses thrive, lawyers are soon to follow suit

The Legal Market at a Glance

With nearly 60,000 registered lawyers, the saturation of the Israeli legal market is a frequently-discussed matter. Salaries outside the very top firms are not great, and many newly-qualified lawyers have themselves opted for the start-up route and launched their own practices

Fees have undergone severe squeezes during recent years, with mid-range firms struggling to stay in the game when their larger rivals undercut them in pitches

Mergers between law firms have become a popular trend due to the legal sector status, especially during recent 5 years. The consolidation trend in the legal market is particularly appealing to the larger law firms seeking to absorb niche practices and shakeout competing firms altogether

Such were the recent years’ mergers of Goldfarb & Co. with Seligman & Co., and of Meitar & Co. with Kantor Elhanani Tal & Co., which propelled the combined entities to the 3rd and 2nd ranking by size with 210 and 250 attorneys in 2015, respectively

Foreign Law firms – The Flow to Israel

Probably the biggest change to the market came in 2012 when new legislation came into effect permitting foreign law firms to practice in Israel. The change removes barriers that prevented foreign lawyers from working in Israel as it allows them to provide legal services within Israel, regarding the local law of their country of origin and international law without becoming a member of IBA

The earliest big arrivals were US-based firm Greenberg Traurig, which opened in Tel Aviv in early 2012, and London’s Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP), which followed suit shortly afterwards. To date, more than 60 foreign law firms have a presence of some sort in Israel, ranging from huge international practices to lesser-known boutiques. For some, this presence is nothing more than a desk temporarily occupied by a partner who only comes to Israel every few weeks

In conclusion, the Israeli legal market in 2015 remains an intriguing puzzle, with many lucrative opportunities on the one hand, and a corresponding set of challenges and on the other

It is expected that the inbound flow of foreign lawyers to Israel and the saturation and consolidation trends will last. Adding the exciting business and professional opportunities in today’s market, it seems that 2015 will give many lawyers the chance to taste the milk and honey of the Promised Land, after all


About the writer

Adv. Zohar Fisher is the founder of Robus, Israel’s leading Legal Marketing Company. Robus is a leading Israeli-based strategic consulting company which provides business development services, and holds unique expertise in the niche market of Legal Marketing for law firms. Robus accompanies both Israeli and foreign law firms in a wide variety of marketing and commercial endeavors. Robus is also behind “Israel Foreign Law Firm Conference”, the only annually held conference devoted to foreign law firms and their practice in Israel

Adv. Fisher is a vastly experienced strategic and business advisor, and a commercial lawyer who has been practicing Legal Marketing since 2006, inter alia, as the business development manager of one of the leading and largest Israeli law firms

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