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Legal market overview

Due to the country’s high number of lawyers per capita, legal fees in Israel are decreasing, particularly in the real estate and capital markets sectors. Consequently, there is some volatility among law firms, with associates being unusually mobile due to low salaries. This in turn has led to an increase in boutique start-ups by younger lawyers – for example, in 2014, competition expert Boaz Golan left Herzog Fox & Neeman in order to set up his own firm – and the boutique model is proving attractive to the market.

In terms of practice areas, greater regulation of the market has led to an increase in the prestige of antitrust departments. The hi-tech dominated corporate sector remains robust both domestically and internationally, with data protection and cyber security being growing areas of work for many hi-tech lawyers. There has also been a spate of new housing developments built in a bid to meet demand and counter rising property prices; related real estate tax reforms designed to help first-time buyers took full effect in January 2014. Meanwhile, the Tama 38 city plan projects which aim to strengthen Israeli properties against the possibility of earthquake are providing much work for planning lawyers.

The possibility of an influx of foreign law firms remains after legislation was passed in 2012 allowing foreign firms to operate in Israel. For now, though, the only notable firms are Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP and Greenberg Traurig LLP, which have M&A practices, and Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner LLP, which is present in the jurisdiction to pick up and facilitate IP work. Yingke Israel – Eyal Khayat, Zolty, Neiger & Co., Law Offices is noteworthy as the first full merger between a foreign firm and a local firm. Two well-respected firms merged in early 2015 to form Tadmor & Co. & Yuval Levy & Co., an 85-lawyer firm that is expected to be a major player in the market.

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