AGG forms legal team to assist influx of Israeli business

ATLANTA, Nov. 14, 2005 – As commerce among Israeli and U.S. companies continues to expand, law firm Arnall Golden Gregory LLP has assembled a team of attorneys to meet the distinctive needs of Israelis who conduct business in the United States or with U.S. companies.

Formation of the team of 10 lawyers was driven by a strong Israeli economy that increasingly is directing business toward the United States, said AGG partner Abe Schear, who heads the team.

“A number of our partners and associates have ties to Atlanta’s Israeli community on various levels,” said Schear, who chairs AGG’s commercial real estate and leasing practice. “Business participation in the U.S. among Israelis is higher than it has been in quite a while. Moreover, hope among Israelis in the peace process between Israel and the Palestinian authority appears to be growing. We are optimistic that even more business opportunities will come to fruition in the near future.”

Atlanta has one of the fastest-growing Israeli communities in the United States with about 5,000 Israelis living in the metro area, says Tom Glaser, president of the American-Israel Chamber of Commerce, Southeast Region. There are an estimated 100,000 Jewish people in the Metro area. In addition, Atlanta serves as U.S. or regional headquarters to more than 45 Israeli companies, and most major Atlanta corporations conduct  business in Israel, placing metro Atlanta among the top five centers in North America for Israeli business activity.

The decision by Delta Air Lines to add direct flights from Atlanta to Israel is a harbinger of business to come with Israel, Glaser said. Newark Airport in New Jersey and Kennedy Airport in New York are the only other airports in the nation to offer direct flights to Israel. The Atlanta flights serve as recognition that business already is strong and also promises to vastly accelerate Metro Atlanta’s position as a business hub for the Southeast, Glaser said.

Israel is one of the most prolific sources of technological innovation in the world, but with a population under 7 million, many successful Israeli companies look beyond their borders to grow. With 71 companies in the Nasdaq, Israel now has the second-largest representation in the technology-laden index behind the United States.

Schear said that Israeli entrepreneurs are a good match for AGG given the firm’s focus on growing private and public companies and its first-hand knowledge of the Israeli culture.

Shelly Rabinovitch, an AGG foreign lawyer licensed in Israel who helped initiate the firm’s Israel team, is a member of the Israel Bar Association, speaks Hebrew as her primary language, and practiced law in Israel for five years.

Rabinovitch said one of the team’s objectives is to get face to face with Israeli businesses by periodically sending team members to Israel to maintain ties and explore opportunities. The team’s next such trip is scheduled for January, when AGG will send delegates to Israel to meet with Israeli CEOs, law firm partners and potential investors. That trip follows a November technology and trade mission led by Georgia Gov. Sonny Purdue that included officials from the Georgia Department of Economic Development and business leaders from targeted Georgia industries. Sherman A. Cohen, team leader of AGG’s Growth Companies and Private Equities practice, represented the firm on that trip.

“Israel is a very small country and part of the business culture there involves meeting face to face, rather than by e-mail or over the phone,” Rabinovitch said.

In addition to experts in corporate law and real estate, AGG’s Israeli team includes practice leaders in telecom (Don Hackney,) life sciences (Alan Minsk) and immigration (Teri Simmons).