Israel Desks Under the Spotlight – Chapman and Cutler LLP – Michael Friedman


In this weekly section, we profile the driving force behind Israel Desks firms, as we catch up with the prominent leaders of the global law firms with Israel Desks: This week – Michael Friedman, at Chapman and Cutler LLP.

You have had an Israel Desk and team for some time, what was the driving force behind that and how does it fit in with the firm’s overall strategy and focus?

I came to Israel with the stated goal of not just being another lawyer asking for work but rather, to ask how I could help companies, institutional investors, and investment funds achieve their goals and grow, whether it be through client introductions or through the development of innovative financial products beneficial to the institutional investment market. After successfully connecting bondholders of an insolvent Israeli company with a large US hedge fund client in an M&A transaction that was beneficial to both the bondholders and the US fund, I focused on the long-term goal of building a network of potential clients and developing new financial products for the Israeli institutional investor market. This focus on playing the long game and innovation is consistent with Chapman’s vision of being “focused on finance” and helping or clients grow that has sustained the firm for more than 100 years.  the Firm does that by gaining a thorough understanding of our clients’ needs and finding ways to help them grow their business.  This is the mindset that I had when I began this practice nearly 10 years ago and it remains my mindset today.

What are the challenges that you face as you look to expand and grow the Israel Desk? How do you manage them?

There are many excellent law firms looking to the Israeli market and we expect that to continue. Our challenge is to increase our client base but by focusing on what we do best and not sacrificing our brand and our quality. We achieve that by adhering to the firm’s vision and continuing to focus on what we do incredibly well.  By continuing to put our clients above everything else. By looking for ways to not just provide legal assistance but provide legal innovation.

 What kind of strategies, mindset or understanding are required for the head of Israeli desk?

The mindset when I began this journey almost 10 years ago is still the same. 

  • listening to what clients and potential clients are looking to achieve.
  • gaining a deeper understanding of what makes each client’s business successful.
  • Finding ways to help those clients grow.
  • Being a partner with our clients and not a vendor or service provider.
  • As a group leader, it is important that I ensure that every attorney in our group have the same mindset.

 What industries or areas do you look to emphasize and develop in the coming year(s), with regards to your Israel Desk?

I believe that the three areas where Chapman’s Israel Practice is a market leader today, (i) real estate finance, (ii) financial restructuring and (ii) capital markets transactions, will continue to be a strength for this group. In addition, we believe we are well positioned to expand the Israel Practice given Chapman’s market leadership in areas such as FinTech and consumer lending and the importance of those areas in the Israeli market. Finally, Chapman’s market leadership in asset securitization and collateralized loan obligations (CLOs) should result in significant opportunities to help the Israeli market develop CLO and securitization products.

Click here to read more about Chapman and Cutler and its Israel Practice.

Chapman and Cutler LLP