Interview with: Nir Sabarov, Managing Partner
What do you see as the main points that differentiate Shnitzer Gotlieb Samet & Co. from your competitors?
I highly respect our various competitors.
At the same time, it seems that our firm has exceptional experience in legal representation of complex litigation cases (compared with our competitors), with emphasis on the following:
- Disputes, in which we represent government entities in complex projects, specifically projects in which there is collaboration between the public and the private sectors (PPP-type engagements). In such projects, considerable and vast disputes over tens of millions of dollars and above often arise (in the fields of trains, water desalination, construction, highways, and so forth), and our firm has extensive experience managing these types of issues and disputes. Our expert team is involved in almost every large and prominent infrastructure dispute in the Israeli legal scene and provides first-rate service to our clients.
- We have considerable and unique experience in all matters related to disputes in the world known as “Purchasing Groups” – private partners that unite together in order to initiate a real estate project. This is a unique form of incorporation that leads to many disputes. The litigation department at our firm has vast experience in this area, and we accompany several leading projects in Israel in this field.
- In addition, we specialize in the accompaniment of financial gatekeepers. As such, we specialize in managing defense in actions against CPAs on matters regarding evaluations, derivative actions and class actions, and so forth.
Which practices do you see growing in the next 12 months? What are the drivers behind that?
I anticipate that the litigation department will grow in its scope, in addition to our operations in the field of accompanying infrastructural projects. It is evident that the State of Israel is significantly increasing its investment in infrastructures due to various, changing vital needs, and this has a direct impact on the scope of legal services required.
In addition, we are working on reinforcing existing operations, for example in the commercial field, by bringing leading partners to serve as the heads of departments that do not yet exist at our firm (i.g –Hi-tech).
What’s the main change you’ve made in the firm that will benefit clients?
Over the past few years, we have been sharing information with relevant clients that is of transverse value, which is embodied in the different legal proceedings in which we are involved. For example, in the world of infrastructures, which is characterized by management of complex proceedings in arbitrations, we share various rulings/decisions with companies who are not a party to these arbitrations, with the goal of contributing to the management of those companies. It goes without saying, that the information is shared with the consent and in coordination with our clients involved in these legal proceedings.
Is technology changing the way you interact with your clients, and the services you can provide them?
The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the speed of the changes to the team’s work methods in terms of communication with our clients. During that period, the team accrued vast experience in working remotely with clients.
Moreover, some of the discussions are held over Zoom today still. Also, aside from personal engagement and emails, each case is also managed with a designated WhatsApp group, where processes are more advanced and information is shared quicker and more conveniently.
Can you give us a practical example of how you have helped a client to add value to their business?
In litigation, adding value, usually means winning for our client – whether the client is the plaintiff or the defendant.
As an example, I would like to mention a government company that became involved in a dispute worth over one billion NIS with one of its concession entities (PPP-PUBLIC private partner type engagement).
The proceeding was managed through arbitrations, and substantial questions were raised regarding the division of risks, including regarding responsibility for planning, optimization of the plans, disclosure regarding various infrastructures, and more. Eventually, our client’s position was accepted, which I view as a significant increase in value for our client.
In addition, and as I explained above, our firm has extensive experience in accompanying purchasing groups – and in this regard, we accompany one of the largest groups in Israel incorporated for the purpose of building a huge real estate project with an estimated value of approximately three billion NIS.
For various reasons, the budget that was originally formulated fell short, leading to significant price increases in the estimated cost of the units purchased by the group members. This led to fierce disagreements within the group, with a significant portion of the partners deciding that they were not prepared to continue paying for their units.
For many years now, we have been accompanying the project’s representatives, which serve as the governing body/board of directors of the project, and in this context, we manage a wide range of arbitrations for the representatives involving very large sums of money.
Looking back at the past four years, as a result of our work, the project was not halted, and today, we face just two more years until its completion. This is indicative of work that has provided significant added value to our clients.
Are clients looking for stability and strategic direction from their law firms – where do you see the firm in three years’ time?
It is no coincidence that for over three decades, our firm has been one of the leading law firms in Israel in the field of commercial-civil law, with an emphasis on our core operations – legal-commercial real estate, capital markets, and litigation.
Clients expect that experienced attorneys will be at their side regularly. They seek knowledge, security, and peace of mind, and we, as a firm that is not large, know how to be prepared in order to meet this demand and to personally accompany our clients every step of the way, at every crossroad.
Looking forward, it is impossible to ignore the general trend characterizing the market – connections/mergers between firms, with the goal of providing a range of services to commercial clients, in addition to minimizing costs.
It is not implausible that our firm will also make such a move, i.e., horizontally broadening our firm by adding different types of operations.
However, at least at this stage, it seems that the fact that we are capable of providing our clients with excellent personalized service, actually sets us apart from the merging firms in the industry, which, in addition to their advantages, also come with significant disadvantages, in my opinion, particularly in the event of large-scale mergers.
At the end of the day, a client is interested in direct, personalized service, without needing to shop for legal services in a huge store at the mall. This is currently our approach.