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.
Israel may have only just liberalised its legal market to allow foreign entrants – through an order passed by the Israeli finance minister in August 2012 – but many firms have long been present in the jurisdiction unofficially. Regardless of whether the liberalisation process will fundamentally alter the state of the market or not, there is concern about its effect on the domestic Bar, which is already saturated by highly qualified Israeli lawyers, including immigrants who previously practised overseas.