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International law firms 'attracted to Israel'

Posted by: Laurence Simons 19/08/13

A number of lawyer jobs could be created in Israel over the coming years as the country's government attempts to liberalise its law market in a bid to improve competition in the sector.

While the state has obviously endured its fair share of problems as the epicentre of some of the Middle East's most intense violence, hopes have been sparked in recent months that its relationship to Palestine could be softening.

This would obviously have more important ramifications that helping Israel's legal market grow, but I'll leave delineating those to the experts.

Changes to Israel's Bar Association Act last year, allowing foreign lawyers to provide advice on international law and the law of their home jurisdiction, has made it easier for legal experts from abroad to enter the market, reports the Lawyer.

The first firm to take the move was US-based Greenberg Traurig, which opened an office in Tel Aviv in late 2011 with plans to mainly focus on intellectual property and life sciences.

Greenberg Traurig Tel Aviv partner Scott Mortman told the news provider: "We've grown beyond our expectations for the first year and hope to see that rate of growth continue."

He pointed to areas such as the hi-tech, green-tech, life sciences and agro-tech sectors as potential growth spots over the coming years.

Berwin Leighton Paisner also launched an office in Israel recently, with desk chair Jonathan Morris indicating the firm hopes to help local companies with expansion plans rather than supplant the work done by existing Israeli legal companies.

"When I look at the new clients won in the past six or seven months we've added at least ten. They're all different sizes, but the pot is growing," he added.

According to the latest report from Laurence Simons, the legal market in the Middle East has remained relatively buoyant despite slumps in the Western world, indicating that many firms may be looking to make the move to countries like Israel in the coming years.