The Lawyer magazine (UK) has reported that one of China’s largest law firms, Yingke – has entered the newly liberalized Israeli legal market.

The Lawyer reported that Yingke “merged with Israeli boutique firm Eyal Khayat Zolty, Neiger & Co, for its first step into the jurisdiction. The local firm has rebranded itself as Yingke Israel and will co-operate closely with Yingke’s 20 offices in China as well as the firm’s 16 overseas offices and alliances. It is understood that the merger is a brand merger without full financial integration.”

Israel’s high-tech sector was one major motivator for the merger. An area of speciality for Eyal Khayat Zolty, Neiger & Co.  ”Since 2010, Chinese companies, both state-owned and private enterprises have increasingly invested in Israel’s technology sectors”

Legal market liberalization the catalyst

Israel’s legal market was recently liberalized and there has been significant interest on the part of foreign law firms. Like other markets that have experienced recent legal market liberalization – incumbent domestic law firms face increased competition from overseas firms — as well as potential opportunities — as this recent China-Israeli law alliance exemplifies.

What’s next?

The Israel Bar Association will conduct a full-day conference in Tel-Aviv on June 27 to discuss these and other developments related to the liberalization of the Israeli legal market.  Originally scheduled for January but postponed due to adverse weather conditions – the conference will be attended by senior foreign law firms operating in Israel along with Israel’s senior law firms operating abroad.

Zohar Fisher, CEO of Robus Legal Marketing will be the Academic Organizer and Moderator for the event.  Zohar told me that:  ”If there was a doubt about the influence of the foreign attorneys reform in Israel (allowing foreign law firms to open offices and actively represent in Israel) – this conference and the massive participation of foreign law firms from around the world, show that this reform has the ability to change and regulate the Israeli legal sector. More than 20 (!) foreign law firms, from the US, Germany, South America, France, UK, international law firms and others will participate “.

Given the recent entry into the market by Yingke – and the potential opportunities available for firms who enter the market – this conference should be a very interesting insight into what the future may hold.

Posted by John Grimley

John Grimley edits and publishes Asia Law Portal

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