Israel ranks among the countries with the highest number of active lawyers measured in proportion to the country's population according to the Business Data Israel's latest ranking of the top law firms.
"There is one lawyer for every 250 inhabitants [in Israel]. The end of 2005, counted 33,000 people with a legal practice certification, of which 80 percent to 85% were active legal practitioners," said the BDI report ranking the country's 10 best law firms. The research firm said the number was above both the US and European averages.
The report added that the relative high number of certified lawyers had increased competition and difficulty in finding a position in the field, as for each position, there were four-to-six competitors. The percentage of women in the legal practice has risen to over 40% compared with 33% in the mid-1990s. Looking at the average age in the legal profession, there was a drop from an average of 41 years in the mid-1990s to 38 years in 2005.
In recent years, the percentage of lawyers employed in the public services increased to about 15% from about 8% 10 years ago. About 56% of all law firms are located in Tel Aviv and in the center whereas Jerusalem, Haifa and the Western Galilee each hold 10% of firms.
Herzog, Fox & Neeman Law Offices this year, again was ranked Israel's leading firm. The country's biggest law firm, which specializes in corporate and commercial law, has more than 100 employees and 34 partners and was founded in 1972 by Haim Herzog. In 2005, the firm was involved in the majority of the largest deals including the Bezeq purchase, and the sale of Cellcom and Israel Electric Corporation.
In second place, came Yigal Arnon & Co., which specializes in banking deals, mergers & acquisitions, litigation and real estate followed by S. Horowitz & Co. in third place.
The merger of Goldfarb, Levy, Eran & Co. and Dankner-Lusky & Co. lifted the combined firm to number four.
The BDI ranking of the top law firms is based on three criteria: growth of the firm, number of lawyers and the firm's clients.
BDI's ranking of Israel's top 10 law firms
1. Herzog, Fox, Neeman & Co.
2. Yigal Arnon & Co.
3. S. Horowitz & Co
4. Goldfarb, Levy, Eran, Meiri & Co.
5. Meitar, Liquornik, Geva& Leshem, Brandwein & Co.
6. Gornitzky & Co.
7. Balter, Guth, Aloni & Co.
8. Naschitz Brandes & Co.
9. Gross, Kleinhendler, Hodak, Halevy, Greenberg & Co.
10. Fischer, Behar, Chen, Well, Orion & Co.