Shared workplace phenomena reaches legal sector

Ehud Olmert’s lawyer talks to ‘The Jerusalem Post’ about leading pro bono push

Elad Netz, CEO of Partners & Co  (photo credit: GAL EITAN)
Elad Netz, CEO of Partners & Co
(photo credit: GAL EITAN)
With Partners and Co. opening a new shared workspace in Tel Aviv this week, the phenomena has finally reached the legal sector.
Though the shared workspace between businesses has spread into a range of industries as a way to pool resources and keep overhead expenses lower, it had not spread yet into the legal sector because of rules requiring law offices to remain separate.
This meant the only solution was a shared workspace totally devoted to lawyers.
It also meant convincing more than 100 lawyers – with law known as one of the industries most resistant to change – to move in together, while remaining as separate offices.
As part of Partners’ desire to contribute to the community, it has launched a unique mentoring program, in which about 150 senior figures in the legal sector, including retired judges, senior mediators and arbitrators, will give consulting hours to lawyers from the shared co-space.
 Partners & Co (Courtesy)
Partners & Co (Courtesy)
Those mentoring the lawyers at the office include Eli Zohar – among the country’s top lawyers after defending former prime minister Ehud Olmert and other top defendants like Gonen Segev – who spoke recently to The Jerusalem Post.
Those lawyers using the offices will make “payment” partially by contributing pro-bono hours to the community or to law students in the periphery.
Zohar told the Post that he was “convinced to join not because of Partners and Co., but because of the idea... that after getting advice, they [lawyers from the shared workspace] will contribute three hours each to society, the periphery and others who need support.”
He said he was excited that if eventually the program grows and “60,000 lawyers each help for three hours for people with little ability... If we get to that it would be fantastic.”
“Instead of bragging about how much money they make, people can talk about how much they are helping society,” Zohar said. “Israeli society has the wrong concept [for being a lawyer]. I want to contribute to changing that concept.”
Throughout the advice-giving process, the lawyers are expected to maintain their clients’ confidentiality.
Some of the targeting strategy for the shared workspace specifically focuses on grabbing lawyers with around 10 years of experience who have worked at large law offices like Zohar’s Goldfarb Seligman.
Often those are the kinds of lawyers who got used to a certain level of creature comforts and centralized services which the shared workspace can provide, even as they may decide to exit their large law firms to go out on their own.
The shared workspace has also attracted small firms of up to four lawyers, with new locations planned for mid-sized firms of a few dozen lawyers.
Asked if he was worried that the shared workspace phenomenon would increase the rate of junior lawyers leaving his office, Zohar responded, “If someone wants to go, we let them go. I educate the next generation, but I give them my blessing when they go.”
Zohar would not comment to the Post on major cases currently in play – he represents persons who may testify in the cases against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Last month, he defended Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit against accusations that the probes into the prime minister were being dragged out too long.
“Everything is clear and obvious in the media,” he said sarcastically at an Israel Bar Association conference, while then clarifying that the realities of probes into top public officials were far more complex.
He also slammed the state prosecution in the past for moving ahead cases against Olmert irresponsibly abruptly, saying defendants had rights also and that “destroying public figures” should not be done lightly.
The initiative has been spearheaded by Partners and Co. CEO Elad Netz as well as Yoel Cheshin, the son of the late Supreme Court Justice Mishael Cheshin, and the founder and chairman of the 2B-Community impact investment fund.