2020 Ranking of International Law Firms with an Israel Desk

We are excited to launch the second annual ranking of international law firms with an Israel desk. This unique and one-of-kind ranking places the focus specifically on Israel desks of international law firms, thus making their quality and professional level accessible to Israeli law firms.

Significant increase in activity of Israel desks (prior to Corona)

Today, there are over 110 law firms, including some of the largest firms in the world, that have an Israel Desk – an increase of almost 10% from 2019. 60% of the international firms with an Israel Desk are American, approximately 20% are British and the rest are from all around the globe. Of the 110 firms, approximately 20 firms have a physical presence in Israel. Over the past year, due to an increase in the amount of work coming out of Israel, additional international law firms have opened branches / representative offices in Israel, while others have expanded their existing legal team. 

The research involved in ranking the firms shows an interesting trend – firms with “on-the-ground” presence in Israel are at the top of the ranking tables. For example, nine of the top firms leading the mergers & acquisitions table were involved in 71 transactions out of 94 transactions during 2019. In the field of labor law, three of the top five firms are located in Israel and together handled approximately 50% of the cases. Another notable example is the field of litigation, in which the top five ranking firms, located in Israel or with representatives in Israel, handled approximately 50% of the cases (68 cases out of 139).

Click image to see the rankings

Foreign firms have become “selective” about their referrals and are referring less to Israel’s largest law firms

The trend, which we have started seeing over the last two years, among Israeli firms that are beginning to take steps to become more global, is reaching its peak, and if not for the Coronavirus crisis it would have continued even further. The large law firms continue to establish their network outside of Israel, through  connections and strategic collaborations with international firms, while medium-sized law firms have found that there is enough room for them to play in the big leagues as well.

This phenomenon occurs, among other things, against a given background that indicates that medium-sized foreign firms seldom to never send referrals to large Israeli firms, based on the knowledge that if the Israeli firms have a substantial case they would prefer to refer it to a large international firm – which can also send them a large referral in return.

Through a study we conducted, in the framework of the ranking, we asked foreign law firms what their set of considerations are that guide them in their referrals of cases to Israeli firms. Alongside reciprocity in referrals, the two most notable things are trust and quality (so that the customer feels that the quality of service provided by the Israeli firm does not fall short of that of the referring international firm). Trust is created through personal acquaintance and relationship building, therefore it will be interesting to see the effects of the Corona crisis, which has neutralized the ability to meet in person.

Comparisons to the 2019 ranking

This year as well, approximately 35 law firms submitted forms and requested to participate in the ranking, which is taking place for the second year, from niche boutique firms to the world’s largest firms. The ranking refers to 2019, from the beginning to the end of the year. Thus, with regard to the data, the strength of activity of Israeli companies in the world can be measured and the activity of Israeli desks representing them worldwide derived therefrom.

During 2019, foreign firms were involved in over 90 cases in mergers & acquisitions (compared to 60 in the 2018 ranking) – a figure that reflects a 50% increase in the number of transactions reported. The field of capital markets has remained stable with almost the same number of cases – 61. The real estate field recorded a 33% increase, with 93 cases of transactions involving Israeli companies abroad. One of the largest increases in this year’s ranking was in the field of litigation. In 2019, 139 cases were reported, compared with 80 in the 2018 ranking – a 74% increase. The hi-tech sector, the engine of the Israeli economy and one of the most active sectors vis-à-vis overseas, recorded a 77% increase compared to the 2018 ranking, with 177 cases of Israeli clients represented by international firms.

The firms at the top of the quantitative ranking tables:

Freshfields, White & Case, Latham & Watkins, DLA, McDermott Will & Emery, Squire Patton Boggs.

Other prominent firms in the ranking: Allen & Overy, Greenberg Traurig, Asserson, DWF, Walkers, Gowlings.

Click here to see the full rankings: http://globallegalmedia.com/legallyisrael100/

About the ranking

Legally Israel 100, is a quantitative ranking. This means that the ranking is objective and determined based on the total number of cases of each firm in their field of specialization or the value of the cases in the same field. These indices show us which firms are most active in every field, accompanied by Israeli clients around the world, divided into the following practice areas: Mergers & Acquisitions, Capital Markets, Litigation, Real Estate, Intellectual Property, Labor Law, Funds, Hi-tech and Cannabis.

This year an individual ranking was added, which was determined by the lawyers’ involvement in the activity of the Israel desk and by senior partners, among the leading Israeli law firms most active in cross-border transactions.

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Idan Nishlis
Idan Nishlis

Idan Nishlis is the legal marketing pioneer in Israel. Being the only professional in the country to have studied services marketing, specializing in legal marketing, Idan has the most diversified and comprehensive work experience in the field, having worked in the US and Israel. Idan founded the first legal marketing department in Israel at Herzog Fox & Neeman which he managed for over 4 years, before launching Nishlis Legal Marketing. Idan's core strength lies in strategy and branding.

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