‘We are a firm that does things other firms don’t do’


‘We call ourselves a family, and we mean it when we say that,” says Richard A. Rosenbaum, executive chairman of Greenberg Traurig, the multinational law firm that employs more than 2,650 lawyers in 47 offices throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia.

In early November, Rosenbaum (no relation to this writer) and another partner from the firm flew to Israel for a whirlwind one-day visit to express their solidarity with the firm’s Israel office and the country at large. 

“Part of our ‘family’ is in Israel,” he continues. “I knew that the right thing for me to do was to go there. The main reason I went was to show support and solidarity and show love, and hug everyone.”

‘WE CALL ourselves a family,’ says Richard A. Rosenbaum, executive chairman of Greenberg Traurig (Credit: Anat Vekin Heinisch)

Greenberg Traurig was founded in 1967 by Mel Greenberg, Robert Traurig, and Larry J. Hoffman, three Jewish lawyers who had found that there were not many positions available for Jewish lawyers in the Miami area at that time. “It was a fairly closed club,” recalls Rosenbaum. “Even in 1985, when I moved there, occasionally when a client would ask you to go to lunch at a club, they would tell you not to tell them your last name. 

“South Florida has changed dramatically since then, but it is important to know the context at that time, and it helps explain why they decided to start their own firm.”

Rosenbaum attended law school in the evenings and worked at a law firm in New York before moving to Florida and joining Greenberg Traurig in 1985 as the firm’s 90th lawyer, working at the Fort Lauderdale office. In 1996, he returned to his native New York to build the firm’s office there. 

‘I didn’t go for me – I went to show support for our family’

Richard A. Rosenbaum

“We are a firm that does things other firms don’t do,” says Rosenbaum. “We go to new markets and new practices very early. We try to be early starters.”

Greenberg Traurig was also an early entrant into the Israeli legal scene, opening an Israel practice group in 2008. Recalling their initial efforts in Israel, Rosenbaum says, “It was something of a humanitarian effort to help Israeli companies access money and strategic partners at a time when that wasn’t so easy because of wars and other things going on then.”

In 2012, Greenberg Traurig officially opened its Israel branch, and Rosenbaum points out that by then, the decision was far more than a humanitarian consideration. “Israel has played an outsized impact, not only because of the personal connection but also because of its technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship, and the degree of interest from the US and other parts of the world. What started as a humanitarian gesture has become a significant offering for us.”

Today, the Israeli branch of the firm has 19 lawyers on staff in a wide variety of legal practices – commercial law, corporate mergers and acquisitions, real estate, IP, labor employment, and others. “We are a full-service triage for the basic needs of any Israeli company looking for US legal services,” explains Joey T. Shabot, who heads the firm’s Tel Aviv office.

“Our function in Israel is not limited to performing those services. Our key value add is doing that while being fully plugged in to the rest of the Greenberg offices around the world. In any given year, we work with 30 or more Greenberg offices on the same matter. 

“Clients benefit from the personal touch and immediate contact you get from being in the same country and time zone, and speaking the same language as your lawyer while having the full range of services that a large international firm like Greenberg can offer.”

Rosenbaum’s own personal service to the firm’s Israeli office began when he arrived at 6 a.m. on Thursday, November 9. “It was an impactful trip,” he says. “I didn’t go for me. I went to show support for our family,” referring to the Israeli office of Greenberg Traurig. 

In the course of the one-day visit, Rosenbaum visited the United Hatzalah organization, met soldiers at an IDF base, and participated in an emotional ceremony held at the Greenberg Traurig office, marking 30 days since the Hamas attacks. 

Explains Shabot: “The day that Richard was here was the day after the 30-day anniversary of the October 7 massacres, and we held a ceremony in the office for the entire staff and attorneys and their families. As there is no precedent for a shloshim (30-day mourning period) ceremony for the type of event that we witnessed on October 7, we created a service that included prayers for the deceased and the hostages, musical selections, a candle-lighting ceremony, the recitation of Yizkor prayers, and other components that were very meaningful and unique.”

Rosenbaum says that for him, the most important part of his visit was the time spent with the lawyers, staff, and their families, and as he puts it, engaging in “warm and honest conversations, hugs, and good feelings.” The photographs of the hostages posted on the walls of the arrivals walkway made a powerful impression on him.

“We remain 1,000% committed to our Israeli presence,” says Rosenbaum, “and in the current conflict, from the first days of the conflict, we made it clear that we were standing with Israel without any ambivalence or ambiguity. The firm gave money, and we matched money from various people across the firm.”

He added that the firm is serving as a pro bono legal resource to the Lawfare Project, a global network of legal professionals who defend the civil and human rights of the Jewish people. Additionally, Greenberg Traurig was one of the prominent law firms that signed a letter addressed to the deans of top-ranked American law schools expressing their concern about the increase in antisemitism and harassment of Jewish students on university campuses since Hamas’s October 7 attack and the Israeli military response. 

Another Greenberg Traurig project that reflects the firm’s family approach to its employees is the Courageous Conversation series, in which people from different walks of life and religions relate their personal stories of what it is like to deal with hatred based on their identity.  

Rosenbaum cites some of the presenters in the Courageous Conversation series, such as a Holocaust survivor who is the father of one of the firm’s partners, who told his story of survival at Auschwitz, as well as others, who because of their identity have had hurdles and issues to overcome in their lives.

“The common thread,” says Rosenbaum, “is having a safe place where people can say what they’re really experiencing and feeling. It’s not for a political purpose. It is a difficult conversation that people generally don’t have with their family.”

Recently, Israel and antisemitism was the subject of Courageous Conversation. “There were not too many dry eyes in the house,” recalls Rosenbaum. “We had all kinds of people participating from Israel, the US, and London. It was very moving.” 

Shabot reports that seven hundred people participated in the virtual panel, which featured three of the firm’s partners from Israel; a participant from the firm’s London office who is a Muslim of Iranian origin who escaped from the fundamentalist Iranian regime; and a lawyer from one of the firm’s US offices who is a grandson of Holocaust survivors. 

As our interview comes to a close, Rosenbaum is asked to describe the core principles and values that motivate him in his life and profession. He pauses momentarily and then says, “Integrity, collaboration, an entrepreneurial spirit, commitment to excellence in the quality and service of what we do, and being in it together as a family.”

For Greenberg Traurig’s Israel staff, coming together as a family is indeed a quality for which they are grateful.  

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