Israel’s 4th annual foreign law firms conference took place on February 26 in Tel Aviv. Organized by Robus Legal Marketing in association with the Tel-Aviv District of the Israel Bar Association, the conference brought together over 400 attorneys, with over 130 representatives from law firms around the world. The topic of this year’s conference was innovation and included panels on Cyber Security, Fintech and Artificial Intelligence.
In comparison to previous conferences, there was a noticeable and increased presence of law firms from China, Japan Korea and India at the conference.
Adv. Zach Lichtblau from Bonnard Lawson’s Shanghai office took part in a panel on Fintech, where he shared insights about the dominance of the fintech market in China by two main players, Alipay and Tencent. He explained how mobile payment solutions have become the most common way to transfer money and pay for goods and services in China. Fintech companies helped the Chinese financial market to expand and forced the banks to evolve.
Adv. Keita Tokura from Anderson Mori & Tomotsune’s Tokyo office spoke about the rise of AI startups in Japan and how the large Japanese conglomerates are collaborating with these startups, unheard of in the past. This kind of collaboration is new in Japan because typically, large Japanese companies are vertically integrated.
By attending Israel’s 4th annual foreign law firms conference, the Asian law firms present were able to further develop their business networks in Israel, make new connections with Israeli lawyers and gain a better understanding of the Israeli legal sector.
The increased presence of Asian law firms
The increased interest by Asian law firms in the Israeli market should not come as a surprise, as trade between Israel and Asia continues to increase exponentially.
China has become the largest trade partner in Asia for Israel and Israel’s third largest global trade partner. Statistics show that the bilateral trade volume between China and Israel reached $11.35 billion a year. Some leading Chinese firms such as Huawei, Legend and Xiaomi have set up R&D centers in Israel. The gradual increase of Chinese companies investing in Israel’s medical services, clean technology and internet sectors has also increased Chinese law firms’ interest in Israel. China’s Bright Food Group bought a controlling stake of Israeli dairy conglomerate Tnuva. Companies such as China Civil Engineering Construction Corp and China Railway Construction Group have worked as investors and constructors in Israel’s infrastructure sector in recent years.
Japanese companies have also begun to invest in Israeli R&D projects. Toyota’s research arm, Toyota Research Institute (TRI), invested $14 million in Israel’s Intuition Robotics this past summer.
Israeli and South Korean researches signed an agreement for mutual cooperation in the fields of robotics and autonomous vehicles in December 2017.
For some of the Asian law firms present at the conference, it may have been their first visit to Israel – but based on their response at the conference’s closing gala, it was clear that there are many visits to come.