With law degrees from Cambridge and Harvard, Baruch Baigel’s resume is typical of the top-flight lawyers in the running for English Law Society awards later this month. But it holds one surprise — he has never practised law from a UK office.
For the last five years, Mr Baigel, a 30-year-old who grew up in Edgware, has worked for Asserson Law Offices, a firm that practises British law and works in the British courts — but from Israel.
There are 18 British-qualified lawyers working from its Tel Aviv offices, doing all the same work that they would be if they were sitting in the City of London.
“The type of work I have been doing from our little firm in Tel Aviv rivals the level of work my contemporaries have been doing at top firms in London,” he said. “The only difference is that I am doing so gazing at the Mediterranean in the sun and working in an office block containing dozens of kosher restaurants and even a shul for afternoon prayers.”
Asserson has phone lines with UK numbers and take advantage of growing possibilities for serving papers by email and fax. The firm has had a string of successes in British courts and tribunals, including three victories in Supreme Court.
Mr Baigel commented: “My contemporaries were joining the City firms and top chambers in London, and part of me wanted to go down that path, But having just completed my work as education officer for Bnei Akiva, I also wanted to make aliyah as soon as possible. Asserson enabled me to do both.”
He has to be constantly ready to head to the UK for a court appearance but “compared to litigation lawyers in the City firms in England who rarely see their families, this is much better.”
He thinks that his success in British law from Tel Aviv “shows that making aliyah no longer means that you have to cut off professionally from your country of origin, and you can continue to achieve excellence in the UK by working in Israel”.