Obituary: Michael Fox dies at 75

Founding partner of Herzog, Fox and Neeman law firm, stood out in his integrity and class.

michael fox (photo credit: Courtesy)
michael fox
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Attorney Michael Fox, who died on Saturday at the age of 75, was the only one of the three leading partners in the law firm of Herzog, Fox and Neeman who was not in the cabinet of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. Fox died at the Hadassah University Medical Center in Jerusalem's Ein Kerem after suffering from cancer for the past decade. The law firm of Herzog, Fox and Neeman was established in Tel Aviv in 1972, four years after Fox made aliya from England. In time, it came to be the largest law office in the country and today employs more than 170 attorneys, including 54 partners. Fox founded the firm with the late president Chaim Herzog, the father of Welfare and Social Services Minister Yitzhak Herzog, and Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman. He was born in London on March 8, 1934, and was admitted as a solicitor of the Supreme Court of England in 1958. After his graduation, he and a partner opened the Fox and Gibbon law offices. After he left England, his former office, which still bore his name, expanded into Arab countries. His close friend and law partner, Alan Sacks, told The Jerusalem Post that some people suspected that with his ties to Israel, including his partnership with an Israeli general [Herzog] and his apparent connections in the Arab world, he must have been working for the Mossad. Fox was a fervent Zionist and a religious Jew. During the German blitz in World War II, he was evacuated from London. Even though he was 34 years old when he arrived in Israel, he joined the IDF and served during the Yom Kippur War on the Egyptian side of the Suez Canal. Fox spent his first four years in Israel in Haifa, where he articled and practiced in the law firm of Solomon-Liphshitz. He was admitted to the Bar Association in 1969. Fox specialized in international law and the firm he founded with Herzog and Neeman focused on bringing foreign investments to Israel. It helped that Herzog had decided to pursue a public career which included a stint as ambassador to the UN, a period in the Knesset and then the office of president of the state. According to Meir Linzen, the office manager of Herzog, Fox and Neeman, Israel's economy was built largely on state-owned or Histadrut Labor Federation companies such as Bank Hapoalim, Koor and Solel Boneh. The law firm decided to look for foreign investors, of which there were few at the time, and persuaded many, such as Robert Maxwell, to invest here. Fox brought with him his international knowledge, said Linzen. He was an expert in corporate law and finance and developed the international side of the firm. He also brought with him the professional level of law firms abroad. According to Sacks, who eulogized him at Sunday's late evening funeral, Fox had four different personas. There was Fox the attorney, Fox the family man, Fox the religious man and Fox the scholar. "Fox was familiar with literature in English, French, Greek and Latin," said Sacks. "He knew all of Shakespeare by heart." But what stood out most about him, Sacks continued, was Fox's integrity. "He was an attorney for 50 years and in all that time, he couldn't tell a lie or say anything he did not himself abide by," said Sacks. "That is quite an achievement in the world of commercial law. "There is a word in English to describe him that has no equivalent in Hebrew. The word is 'class.'"