Aliyah and Law: How foreign lawyers immigrate - opinion

Published date06 February 2021
Publication titleJerusalem Post, The: Web Edition Articles (Israel)
Other than contemplating the well-known "where to live" discussion among Ra'anana, Jerusalem, Modi'in or maybe even Efrat, you are probably thinking about what will be the next step for your career. At this juncture, this article aims to give some answers to newcomer lawyers who are asking exactly those questions.

First things first: Where am I and what should I do?

Welcome to Israel's cutthroat, highly competitive legal market. If you have not already noticed, Israelis tend to be intense even without being lawyers, and guess what, a lot of them are! Israel's legal market is the most saturated legal market in the world with about one lawyer for every 139 people (that's about 60,000 active lawyers).

As a foreign lawyer, you will need to be registered with the Israel Bar Association to be placed in its directory of foreign lawyers. You will be allowed to practice foreign law and foreign law only. You will not be permitted to appear in front of an Israeli court as a lawyer. If you wish to practice Israeli law, you will have to take several tests, perhaps even a Bar exam, depending on your years of seniority as a lawyer.

The main difficulties and challenges for lawyers making aliyah include: the market's aggressive character, along with bureaucracy, the HUGE difference in salaries and hourly fees, and the language barrier, as well as a completely different legal system.

After briefly reviewing the challenges, it is time to look at your fortes or your unique selling point to the Israeli legal market. There are two main features that come to mind and are the most crucial – whether you are a native English speaker and the extent of your experience with international legal work.

Weighing in both sides of the equation, there is one preferable conclusion: The best route for foreign lawyers, especially those with experience who are relocating to Israel, is to stay in their own court (no pun intended) – the international one.

If you found this article a bit alarming so far, I have great news for you. Yes, relocating is always a challenge, maybe even more so when it's to the land of milk and honey, but don't get discouraged. Foreign lawyers actually have a variety of great opportunities in Israel.

With Israel's market becoming more and more global every year, the amount of international work is always on the rise, and this gives you a number of possible routes you can take:

Israeli law firms – Israel's international legal work is dominated by a fraction of Israeli law...

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