Israel may have a world record number of lawyers as a proportion of the population, but some of the lawyers and law firms in Israel do not deal in Israeli law. One of these is Asserson Law Offices, which is located in Israel, but deals solely with English law, not Israeli.
The firm's staff include British lawyers with experience of practicing law in the UK, who immigrated to Israel after serving as partners in leading UK law firms.
According to founder and senior partner Trevor Asserson, the firm's formula for success is simple: the experience and reputation of its lawyers, together with incomparably lower operating expenses than those of UK firms, enable it to provide its clients with legal services of the quality of the leading firms in the UK, but to charge fees tens of percentage points lower than is customary there.
The average fee charged by Asserson Law Offices is £300 per hour, less than half what is normally paid in London. Asserson has brought nine new lawyers into the firm, bringing its total complement of lawyers to 20.
How do you manage to work in Israel and deal with English law?
Asserson: "Our activity in Israel is conducted exactly as in London, apart from the view. The atmosphere is like London, the spoken language and professional literature are English, the telephone numbers, e-mail addresses, everything. Each lawyer has a direct line to England at the cost of a local call."
You represent many Israeli clients in England. Is their business conducted here, or is it necessary to travel to the courts there?
"The Israeli clients don't have to travel to England. We sometimes travel for hearings, but only in large cases, about once every six months (even in London, most lawyers hardly leave their offices).
"Nevertheless, the partners and I travel to London once a month for a few days. The message we stress to clients is that if they need us, we'll fly out there immediately. The head of the firm's real estate department, for example, doesn't have to travel at all, and he does everything online. He sells and buys offices and prestige homes in London without seeing them."
Do you have a branch in England?
"We have an office in central London, where two lawyers are permanently based, dealing mainly with planning and construction. One of them, Danny Drukarz, is recognized in London as one of the best lawyers in his field. He was involved in the planning of many buildings for the Olympics in London."
What's special about your firm in comparison with competing firms in England?
"We are known in the English market as one of the best firms for international litigation. Most of the team work in this area. Just this year, we dealt with three cases against the British government, and we won all three. Following one of the judgments, that had to do with solar energy, the government claimed it had lost more than £1.5 billion. Recently, we represented Israel Perry in a case in the English Supreme Court, in a hearing before nine judges, and we won there too. The point is that we are located here, but the work is done in London."
Why in fact do you work from Israel? Zionism?
"All the team wanted to live in Israel. Yes, first and foremost because of Zionism, but also because the climate is pleasanter. Since we are the only firm operating this way in Israel, we have the privilege of being able to take lawyers of the highest caliber from the best universities and firms in England, the kind of people who would be snatched up by the biggest firms in London. This week, a lawyer approached me who has wanted to make aliya for a long time, and now, when he heard of us, it spurred him to take the step. In fact, lawyers make aliya in order to work here. Almost every week, a lawyer contacts me who wants to work in the firm."
Do you have a vision behind your activity in Israel?
"Absolutely. My vision is that, just as we are a firm that deals in English law and is based in Israel, there should be American, French and English firms, and not just in law but also in accountancy, banking, and other fields. We are the proof that it's possible to come to Israel with the qualifications and experience you have gained overseas, and to work in your profession here too. In addition, every deal closed in our Tel Aviv office would otherwise have been closed in England, and Israel would not have benefitted from it; that way, the money stays in Israel. Just as tourism ultimately brings money to Israel, so do we."
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on September 3, 2012
© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2012