The Israeli legal world is gushing. More and more international law firms want a piece of the pie as Israel's economy and tech industry continue to grow.
While many law firms have already settled down in Israel and others are contemplating the move, it's time to understand why the holy land is a desirable and suitable expansion location for your law firm.
Last April, 3,463 law graduates took the Bar Exam in Israel. Although only 44% of them actually passed the exam and were qualified as lawyers, the numbers represent the direction in which the Israeli legal world is going.
With 77,553 registered practicing lawyers, Israel is placed as one of the countries with the highest lawyers per capita in the world.
That being the case, it would seem surprising that following a 2012 legislation allowing foreign lawyers to practice in Israel, there has been a increasing growth of international lawyers and law firms setting up shop in Israel.
However, taking a closer look at the ‘Startup Nation’, reveals a fertile ground for international lawyers. The American Interest magazine recently ranked Israel as one of the eight great powers of 2017, alongside The USA, China, Japan, Russia, Germany and others.
According to their analysis, the discovery of offshore natural gas and oil are turning Israel into an energy exporter. Furthermore, Israel’s decision to support the rise of a domestic cybersecurity and IT economy has placed it at the center of the ongoing revolution in military power based on information control and management, thus - attracting not only private investors, but also state funding from countries such as India, China and Russia.
Startup Genome's 2017 Global Startup Ecosystem Report ranked Tel Aviv as the 6th best start up ecosystem in the world, thus justifying the pun- ‘Silicon Wadi’. With 250 Israeli companies going public on NASDAQ over the last 40 years, Israel has listed more companies than any other country besides the USA and China.
Investors have further been interested in Israel's agricultural, food and digital health industries, the latter increasing by nearly 30% in 2016. Israel has more researchers per capita working in R&D than any other country, and venture-capital investment per person is the highest in the world.
One may be skeptical of the capacity of the Israeli legal market. However, according to legal recruitments in Israel, in 2016 the average lawyers' salary increased by 2% compared to the previous year, and by 3.5% compared to 2014. Some Israeli law firms are gradually opening international branches outside of Israel.
Meanwhile, boutique law firms have begun to emerge slowly but gradually, providing high quality work in niche markets. Furthermore, since August 2012 (change of legislation), over 60 international law firms have established a presence of some sort in Israel; some settled for a temporary desk managed by a partner who travels to Israel every few weeks. Others went further with a representative permanently present and available. Greenberg Traurig already set up fully functioning office practicing the law of their country of origin, while Chinese firm Yingke chose to merger with the Israeli law firm EKZN.
These moves aren't always easy to make. They require learning a new culture, the local business environment and etiquette, as well as getting used to the Israeli legal fees, which are much lower than the USA and Europe.
However, these are all small prices to pay for the treasure of potential outbound and inbound business and M&A, which lie within the Israeli economy.