Honigman’s new recruitment play allows U.S. lawyers to work from Israel

REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao

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  • Honigman has hired five U.S. lawyers for Israeli subsidiary
  • Lawyers working for Honigman Law Israel will be paid based on firm’s U.S. pay scale

(Reuters) – Midwest law firm Honigman said on Wednesday it has set up a subsidiary in Israel to attract U.S. transactional attorneys who want to relocate there but continue to work on U.S. legal matters.

Detroit-founded Honigman, which has about 330 lawyers, has so far recruited five attorneys for the Israeli unit from U.S. firms in New York including Davis Polk & Wardwell, Goodwin Procter and Ellenoff Grossman & Schole.

“Firms our size have to be a little bit innovative in order to get the right talent,” said Honigman chair and CEO David Foltyn. The firm’s other office openings, such as in Chicago and Washington, D.C., have been “so that we can recruit highly talented lawyers that just aren’t working out of Michigan,” he said.

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Midsize and large law firms have been engaged in a fierce war for attorney talent, particularly in transactional practices.

Honigman in April lost 27 private equity partners to mega law firm DLA Piper in Chicago.

The firm does not have an office in New York.

The new Honigman lawyers in Israel, who are U.S.-licensed, won’t do any work under Israeli law or for clients in the country, Foltyn said.

The move accommodates U.S. lawyers who, for religious or other personal reasons, want to live in Israel but “don’t have a place” to practice at Israeli law firms due to factors including Israel bar rules, he said.

Compensation through Honigman’s subsidiary also will be higher than what a lawyer would make at an Israeli firm, Foltyn said.

Lawyers working for Honigman Law Israel will be paid based on the firm’s U.S. pay scale, the firm said. Its website says Honigman’s first year associates earn $205,000, which is slightly below the current market rate at large firms.

Inbar Rauchwerger, a private equity associate joining Honigman, grew up in Israel and later practiced law in New York at Goodwin Procter.

Rauchwerger said she went back to Israel during the COVID-19 pandemic and worked remotely for Goodwin, which eventually asked her to come back to the U.S. Wanting to stay in Israel, she interviewed with New York firms, but none allowed her to work remotely from Israel.

The other lawyers hired by Honigman to work in Israel include partner Sam Katz, who joined from Ellenoff Grossman & Schole; counsel Aviv Avnon from Davis Polk; and associates David Snyder from Roberts & Holland and Rachel Rhodes from Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman.

Douglas Ellenoff of Ellenoff Grossman said in an email that the firm wishes Katz well. Spokespeople from Goodwin, Roberts & Holland and Davis Polk didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment, and a spokesperson from Pillsbury didn’t immediately comment on the departure.

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