In the game – Israeli law firms embrace risks to secure the tech icons of tomorrow

Israeli law firms focused on start-ups and early-stage growth companies embrace risk in the hope of landing the next big thing

Every Thursday at 6pm, Yair Geva, co-head of Herzog Fox & Neeman (HFN)’s high-tech department, drinks a beer on the rooftop of a client’s office in central Tel Aviv. The weekly drink, which started seven years ago when he returned to Israel from New York, is a routine that is borne out of professional commitment and friendship. In the start-up and high-tech world, the two often go hand in hand.

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Value range – as the money pours in, can Israel takes its high-growth stars global?

Investment is pouring into Israel’s technology sector. Can increased capital take Tel Aviv’s high-growth stars global?

Israel’s regional tensions contrast with optimistic hopes for foreign investment and a burgeoning economy. While war still rages over the border in nearby Syria, Israel’s start-up and hi-tech sector is flourishing. In addition, its nascent natural gas industry finally looks primed for substantial development.

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Trading Places – Israel’s tech-heavy legal market widens its global reach

International opportunities are emerging for lawyers in Tel Aviv, as Israel becomes less reliant on its traditional trading partners of the US and Europe, and diversifies into Asia-Pacific and other growth economies.

Shimon Peres, the 91-year-old former Israeli president, may not be the most obvious social media fanatic. Yet in 2014 he opened an account on Weibo, China’s equivalent of Facebook, expressing his desire to interact directly with the Chinese people, including its younger generation. The nonagenarian quickly received over 50 million ‘likes’ on his Weibo page.

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Scale-up nation – chasing Israel’s high growth clients

Israel’s start-ups are building themselves up for global prominence, leading to a frenzy of high-value transactional activity

Barry Levenfeld is a regular visitor to Silicon Valley. The technology and life sciences specialist at Israeli firm Yigal Arnon & Co has to fly from Tel Aviv to San Francisco, via New Jersey or Los Angeles. Currently the journey takes around 20 hours.

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Israel – New Heights

The recent liberalisation of Israel’s legal market may lead to an influx of foreign advisers as well as the expansion of the domestic elite, excited by the prospect of heightened deal activity

In a Tel Aviv conference in June this year, DLA Piper, White & Case, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Weil, Gotshal & Manges will rub shoulders with Israel’s legal elite in discussing the liberalisation and internationalisation of the country’s legal market. The conference, hosted by the Tel Aviv District Israel Bar Association and legal marketing and consulting company Robus, highlights the growing presence of international law firms in Israel. And while this may bear all the hallmarks of another instance of empire building by international advisers, the reality is actually a little more nuanced.

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Israel – Peak performance

In an era of ever-increasing cross-border transactions, it is fitting that Israel’s domestic legal market contains a rapidly growing cohort of international lawyers, just as foreign firms continue to lavish more attention on the jurisdiction.

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer’s ‘man on the ground’ in Tel Aviv, Adir Waldman, had a relatively typical New England upbringing. Having grown up in Fairfield, Connecticut, the academically gifted Waldman studied at nearby Yale University, before returning two years later to attend Yale Law School, where he became senior editor of The Yale Law Journal.

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A hive of activity

For a small country, Israel has a lot of lawyers – more per capita than any other jurisdiction. Over the past ten years most of them have had plenty of work, but now the economy could struggle to feed such a buzzing legal profession

Israel has the highest number of lawyers per capita of any country in the world – one lawyer for every 166 people – and so far it has managed to keep them all busy. For a country with a population of 7.3 million, a legal profession boasting 44,000 participants is quite some feat (the UK has 150,000).

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