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Legal market overview
Israel liberalised its legal landscape in 2012, when the Minister of Finance signed an order allowing foreign law firms to operate and collaborate in the country; foreign firms may now merge with local firms and foreign lawyers may practise the law of the jurisdiction in which they are qualified. So far, however, there is little threat felt among Israeli lawyers and many believe they will continue to work with their international counterparts, rather than against them. Israel has been relaxing its regulations on foreign firms for around three years, and Greenberg Traurig LLP was the first to open its doors in 2011, and then Berwin Leighton Paisner LLP opened a representative office in 2012.
Competition is already extremely high among Israeli lawyers, which has a huge number of lawyers per capita of the population, and fees are substantially lower than international firms are used to charging, but there is no doubt that Israel’s legal market is attractive, and one which remains relatively buoyant amid the uncertain global economy. In particular, the hi-tech and real estate industries are thriving and the recently discovered offshore natural gas reserves continue to provide fertile ground for instructions. Lawyers are set to pick up more work from a new economic concentration committee, which has been established to separate large corporations from their financial holdings in order to increase competition, and many firms expect foreign investors to take advantage of opportunities opening up.
In 2013, Meitar Liquornik Geva & Leshem Brandwein merged with Kantor, Elhanani, Tal & Co, to form Meitar Liquornik Geva Leshem Tal Law Offices, which becomes Israel’s third largest law firm. Elsewhere, Goldfarb Seligman & Co. recruited corporate lawyer Aaron Lampert from Naschitz, Brandes & Co., and Tadmor & Co. added Ophir Nave from Herzog Fox & Neeman.