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Israel’s foreign law firms conference – coverage in the Tel-Aviv bar magazine

Dozens of law firms and more than 300 attorneys attended the conference held by the Tel Aviv and Central District of the Israel Bar Association concerning the integration of foreign law firms in Israel’s legal market. Robus Legal Marketing was the academic manager of the conference

In the wake of public discussion on the flooding of the legal marketplace in Israel, the Tel Aviv and Central District of the Israel Bar association has held for the first time in Israel a conference dedicated to the opening of Israel’s legal market to foreign law firms, under the title- Opening Israel’s legal market – the flow to Israel 

The conference was held in English and hosted dozens of foreign law firms, including firms from the U.S, Europe, the Far East, Latin America, as well as scores of leading representatives of Israeli law firms

A long queue formed at the door opening of the event and some 300 lawyers attended the opening sessions. Prof. Yaakov Neeman, Israel’s former Minister of Justice, and Adv. Efi Nave, chairman of the Tel-Aviv and Central District of the Israel Bar Association, delivered the opening speeches. Adv. Zohar Fisher, CEO of Robus Legal Markering served as the conference’s Academic Coordinator

 foreign law firms conference - Hapraklitim

The former Justice minister, Prof. Neeman, explained in his speech about the rationale behind the reform. In his opinion, opening Israel’s legal market to foreign law firms is both a natural and a vital step, which will put Israel at the front of the global legal industry: As the Israeli economy has developed, the scale and complexity of the cases which Israeli lawyers had to deal with has grown accordingly

For that reason, Israeli lawyers are often required to be assisted by foreign lawyers throughout the case, said Neeman – At the end of the day, every country that opened its gates to foreign lawyers has improved its level of legal practice

The foreign representatives expressed similar views. Adv. LizabethAnn R. Eisen of the US law firm of Cravath Swaine Moore, explained that her firm’s purpose is not to compete with the local law firms – but rather to collaborate with them and provide Israeli companies with valuable specific legal services such as a foothold in Nasdaq and the US stock exchange

Adv. Paul Miller of the UK law firm of  BLP, reiterated Adv. Eisen’s ideas. He advised that the foreign law firms that contemplated entering the Israeli market to find a unique and distinct niche of activity, considering the sophisticated and the constantly developing Israeli legal market

Adv. Garry Epstein of the US law firm of Greenberg Traurig explained why the foreign law firms desire to expand their activity to Israel’s legal market: We seek access to the technologically rich local market. We found out that in the warm Israeli culture, 90% of the deals are closed thanks to familiarity, handshakes and face to face meetings. Hence, we believe that the best strategy for our firm is to be physically present in Israel and create personal relationships

Adv. Jeremy Lustman of the US law firm of DLA Piper, added in the same manner: We have noticed that in conjunction with the development of the Israeli economy, there is a growing demand for legal services on an International scale

This includes Israeli pension funds which tend to move their investments abroad, giant Israeli companies that operate abroad and the Israeli high tech market that is constantly expanding overseas

The preferred penetration strategy among foreign law firms is a merger with small to medium sized Israeli firms. Adv. Joshua Kiernen of the US law firm of White & Case explained: Mergers with firms that employ hundreds of attorneys are naturally more complicated and bear a higher risk. Hence, we generally prefer finding firms with less attorneys at the target state and establishing around it a branch controlled by few of the firm’s senior partners

israel law firmsThe foreign attorneys elaborated on some of the obstacles that impede integration in the Israeli market. Adv. Adir Waldman of the UK law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer mentioned politics as one of them: I have many concerns regarding Israel’s status in the world and the political direction it has taken. If Israel’s world status doesn’t improve, we might face problems operating in Israel

Adv. Zohar Fisher of Robus Legal Marketing concluded: If there were any doubts regarding foreign law firms activity in Israel, this conference has completely refuted them. The foreign firms are here to stay and there is no doubt they’re a factor that Israeli law firms should consider

Following this successful conference, a broader conference is planned in the upcoming year, this time with more diversity of sessions and a larger number of foreign attorneys attending. We hope to see you there next year as well

The conference was covered by the legal magazine ‘Hapraklitim’. For the original article (in Hebrew) please click here


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