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Live In Israel, Litigate in London

Yonoson Rosenblum

When Trevor Asserson moved to Israel, he left a high-profile, lucrative job back in London. But in just a few years, he managed to build an innovative law firm of his own, with premises in Jerusalem and clients in the United Kingdom. Now his team of British-born lawyers has realized their own dreams of aliyah, thanks to the determination and creativity of a man who’s also used his legal prowess to fight media bias against Israel.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Had Trevor Asserson made aliyah fifteen years earlier, you would not be reading this article — or at least not with my byline. I would have been practicing law with Trevor, or perhaps with an American law firm based on the model he has established for practice in the United Kingdom.

At the time my wife and I came on aliyah, I had been a litigator with a leading Chicago law firm for two years. Ten years later, when the time came to leave kollel, I toyed with the idea of returning to the practice of law. But a litigator’s tools are his language skills, verbal and written. I quickly realized that my Hebrew would never approach the quality of my English, and thus I had no chance of practicing at the same level as I had in America. Switching to another area of law, where English might be a big advantage in multinational deals, held no interest.

Plus, any lawyer will tell you that the beginning stages of one’s career are one continuous humiliation ritual — the more arduously one was courted, the greater the humiliation — since one knows how to do nothing practical and must seek guidance at every turn, often from nonprofessionals. Few would voluntarily return to the bottom rung of legal practice. And thus was born a career in journalism and book-writing.

Today, at least for lawyers trained in British law, all these barriers to practicing law while living in Israel no longer exist. For those lucky enough to secure a position with Asserson Law Offices (ALO), which consists of fourteen attorneys at present, the possibility exists to land in Israel and hit the ground running — i.e., work exclusively in English, at a level of sophistication equal to or higher than that at which one was practicing in his or her country of origin, and without going back to their early days of practice.

That possibility has been the deciding factor in making aliyah for many of the lawyers in the office, and between a “hard” and “soft” landing for those who were determined to live in Israel, no matter what. To these attractions must be added the fact that the office is composed almost entirely of other lawyers who fully share one’s religious and Zionist ideals.


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