Arrivals: Connecting Israel and the world

Jeremy Lustman, 42, From Silver Spring, Maryland, to Hashmonaim, 2009.

The Lustmans had a ‘try before you buy’ experience in Israel, spending two years in country before officially making aliya in 2011 (photo credit: Courtesy)
The Lustmans had a ‘try before you buy’ experience in Israel, spending two years in country before officially making aliya in 2011
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Many people have to make a career shift when they move to Israel. Many others commute overseas to keep the same job. Jeremy Lustman is fortunate that he was able to remain in his field, with the same employer, and work in Israel.
An associate of international law firm DLA Piper at the time of his family’s relocation from Maryland to Hashmonaim in 2009, Lustman not only stayed with the firm but became a partner four years ago. Chalk it up to his visionary proactive approach.
“Our aliya came at a time where I started hearing more about immigrant professionals practicing in Israel and not having to give up their careers for idealism,” he said. “You could be a lawyer, banker or investor in Israel just as you could in America.”
However, Lustman does not practice Israeli law. Instead, he created a niche for DLA Piper, using its global contact network to help Israeli organizations and companies get a foothold in new markets, matching Israeli start-ups with foreigners seeking investment opportunities and assisting foreign corporations doing business in Israel.
“The core business of a law firm is trying to identify clients you can help in a legal capacity. When I moved here at the beginning of 2009, I saw Israel was weathering the financial storm well, was about to become an OECD member, and was doing business in the United States comfortably, and a lot more globally. Since our firm was also growing internationally, I saw many opportunities to connect the dots between Israeli companies and the rest of world,” explained Lustman.
Israelis looking to hire employees in France, engage a trademark attorney in the Czech Republic, buy a business in Japan, or find an Asian investor or a commercial partner in Latin America, for example, approach Lustman for introductions and assistance on a daily basis.
Often enough, this leads to billable business for DLA Piper as well as Israeli law firms and accountants. DLA Piper now represents about 160 Israeli companies doing business abroad, as well as more than 150 multinational companies with Israel-related projects that generally make their way to Lustman’s desk by way of DLA Piper offices around the world. He recently hired another US-trained lawyer in Israel.
“If I simply came as another American lawyer to represent Israeli companies in the US, I probably would have had some traction, but there would have been a lot more challenges,” he mused.
“We already represent many big corporations around the world, and I saw an opportunity to bring those markets to the Israeli doorstep. In the world of international business everyone appreciates a relationship. Our global network enables us to open doors for many Israeli companies, and our hope is that, over time, they will turn to us for their legal projects as well.”
Lustman grew up in Baltimore, where his parents and sister’s family still reside.
After high school, he studied in Israel for two years at Yeshivat Sha’alvim and graduated from Yeshiva University in 1996 with a degree in political science and a minor in business. Right after graduation, he married Tamar Parness, worked for a year in New York and then went to Georgetown Law School. The couple lived in the Washington suburb of Silver Spring, Maryland, for 12 years.
“For a few years we had been looking for an opportunity to bring our family to Israel,” he said. “We had both studied here for more than a year after high school and felt very connected to, and comfortable in, Israel. Whenever we were able to save up for vacation, we came here, and then a number of our friends moved here, so it became much closer to home.”
The Lustmans came for a year on a trial basis in 2009. That year extended into a second year, and then they officially made aliya in the summer of 2011. Their children – Merav, 15; Avital, 13; and Ranan, 10 – all are comfortable with life in Hashmonaim by now.
Tamar Lustman did switch careers after aliya. She had worked in accounting and consulting for Big Four firms in the Washington area. A year after moving to Israel, she and a friend started a homebased business, Candy Corner, which specializes in gift baskets and trays, sweet gifts from American parents delivered to their children studying in Israel, and dessert buffets for people celebrating life-cycle events in Israel.
Jeremy Lustman sits on the boards of directors of two nonprofits: Simcha Layeled, which provides mentors to children with chronic illnesses or physical disabilities; and Cycle for Unity, a foundation utilizing physical fitness and leadership training to bolster Jewish unity and promote Jewish philanthropy.
He is active in his synagogue and remains involved with AIPAC, Hillel and other American organizations.
In his leisure time, Lustman is an avid swimmer and enjoys traveling with his family. The Lustmans make it a priority to visit their extended families in the US for a portion of every summer.
Although he misses his family and friends there, he enjoys the fact that in Israel any two people can find that they have about two degrees, instead of six degrees, of separation.
“There are so many points of connectivity with everyone you meet. In my first year here, one day I happened to be davening at the Kotel next to the general counsel of a big firm. We had met in Tel Aviv earlier, but this experience was what led to my first big client here.
The accessibility to people in Israel is extraordinary, and I really appreciate that intimacy,” he said.
Anytime Lustman perceives a link between Israel and the global market, he jumps right in. Last year, he led a delegation of Israeli companies to India to connect them with potential Indian investors, and he has traveled as far as Hong Kong, Australia and South Africa to introduce Israeli companies to potential business partners in growing markets where DLA Piper has a presence.
“Seven years ago, I was a practicing lawyer in Washington, and now I’m a partner in the firm because of the success of the Israel practice,” he reflected.
“Every day is so dynamic and different. The scope of companies we represent here really runs the gamut from hi-tech start-ups to established multinational Israeli corporations, and I’ve gotten to know my colleagues well internationally as we guide an increasing number of local companies around the world.”