We sat down for an open conversation with one of our most active lawyers, Adv. Ofer Zahavi, where we had a conversation about family and what it’s like working with LawFlex.
Tell us a little about your legal career from the beginning to your decision to work as a freelance lawyer.
I studied a Bachelor of Laws and Asian Studies (Chinese) at the University of Haifa, so I was looking for a leading commercial law office that dealt with international transactions, where I would add value. I was accepted into several of the top ten firms and chose the firm I connected to the most, Goldfarb Gross Seligman. After the internship, I was asked to stay, and Goldfarb Gross Seligman was my home (first, not second) for almost a decade. During this period, I learned a lot and handled complex and diverse transactions, capital raising alongside the ongoing handling of high-tech companies.
After several years as a leading lawyer in the department (where I served as a mentor to young lawyers and interns), I decided that I needed a change and realised that staying in the firm as a partner (or moving to a similar firm) was not the right thing for me. Fortunately, I had a number of good friends who were older than me and had already been promoted to partner, moved to another firm, moved to serve as attorneys at leading firms or opened independent offices. This made it easier for me and answered the concerns that arose in the face of such a significant career change, especially faced with the prospect of leaving my comfort zone.
Upon becoming a freelance lawyer, it was clear to me that I would continue to provide excellent service to clients in areas where I have extensive experience and could add value to the client, mainly working on commercial agreements, mergers and acquisitions, capital raising and accompanying startups from the stage of establishment (and even earlier).
What was the main factor that led you to go independent and start a career as a freelance lawyer?
It is a mix of factors and a process of personal and professional maturation. Even if it sounds like a cliché – it’s true: I wouldn’t have done it without the push and encouragement from my wife, parents and close friends. I left a very comfortable place where I handled the largest clients in the economy and made billion-dollar transactions. At the same time, I was highly valued by my partner and senior partners in the firm, and I enjoyed the terms of employment as is common in large firms.
However, when you receive a competitive wage, the amount of hours you put in, significantly reduces the hourly rate. This is one of the things that frustrates many employees in large firm. As a self-employed person, I am compensated for every hour of work, I choose which cases to handle and the amount of hours I wish to work.
Tell us a little about your daily life as a freelance lawyer.
As a freelance lawyer, I feel that there is great flexibility and convenience for me to balance my work and personal life (something that is very challenging in the big firms). I focus on areas that interest me and am not ashamed to say “no” to projects that interest me less or if the pay is too low. Another advantage is that I can work from home or the office, and even from abroad if I so desire.
I first realised I could work abroad during a family trip overseas when Israel was in lockdown. I remember the first call with the client regarding the project was whilst I was travelling through a picturesque town, I thought to myself “how urgent is it to return to Israel?”. To my surprise, the client told me that she thought I could stay in Europe and work remotely. It was very tempting and different to what I was used to. However, you have to remember that this is a business, so if we don’t work, are tempted to take care of the home or travel, then there will be no income. That’s why I think this independence suits me: I have the self-discipline to know when to work hard and when it’s possible to rest a little or get busy with other things. In addition, as a professional and personal service provider, I should still be available to the client and his needs.
How did the COVID-19 pandemic affect all of this?
I think the whole economy experienced a period of shock and uncertainty however, pretty quickly life went on and legal work was required. My wife is employed in an essential field (biotech) and it was very convenient that I could stay at home with my daughters for a long period of time whilst being accountable to the employer and maintaining an adequate level of income by working from home.
How did you hear about LawFlex? In practice, how is it working with them?
I met Zohar Fisher, founder of LawFlex, at a marketing conference for the Bar Association that I attended upon becoming a freelance lawyer. Zohar lectured at the conference, and we connected very quickly. LawFlex refers me to excellent clients in the fields in which I am knowledgeable. Among other things, I was referred by LawFlex to entrepreneurs, law firms, small and large companies and even a huge international corporation. There are long-term projects with hourly pricing, retainers and huge international deals (in the last year I flew several times to Europe for negotiation meetings on behalf of a client). Dealing with LawFlex is very convenient and pleasant, I always have someone to contact at LawFlex and consult about pricing and suitability for various projects.
What do you think about the ALSP revolution that has been gaining momentum in the legal market in recent years?
Following the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been many changes in the labour market. Many employers in the economy allow work from home (hybrid model). I think that this is happening amongst law firms, however, more gradual than the rest of the economy (and especially in relation to the hightech industry). In my opinion this is a trend that will only increase since it enables a balance between personal life and work and is also a significant cost-saving mechanism for employers. The ALSP world has been enabling this flexibility for several years and therefore provides an excellent solution for both the paying clients and the lawyers, in a win-win way.