(photo credit: INIMAGE)
The country’s more than 50,000 lawyers are due to vote on Tuesday for a range of positions in the Israel Bar Association, including in the race for president between incumbent Doron Barzilai and the head of the Tel Aviv and Central Bar Association Section, Efi Nave.
Who the lawyers vote in as president will not only substantially impact the future of the various law councils that make up the organization, but may heavily impact the future of its relations with the courts.
The Jerusalem Post spoke to both Barzilai and Nave to get their take on the key issues in the election.
The association president has had frosty relations with the court, including over his pushing through a survey of lawyers rating individual judges, at which the courts have bristled, and since the survey they have boycotted his events.
In general, Barzilai says that while he respects the courts’ independence, he “does not reject” all critiques of the courts, at times defending current Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked from attack for her statements that the courts have invaded the authority of the Knesset by striking down too many laws.
In contrast, Nave has come off more as labeling new ideas for reforming the courts as “injecting politics” into the mix.
Barzilai and Nave were once allies, having teamed up to unseat the leadership that preceded them. But it has been two years since Nave broke ranks with Barzilai, forming an alliance with others, including former association president Yuri Guy-Ron.
Barzilai has pushed for a major reform of the bar association’s structure.
The reform would involve eliminating the association’s local chapters, power centers of Nave and his allies, and reducing the number of national council members in half to 24.
Barzilai says he “participated in and contributed to” the reform Shaked is now leading, and was also supported by former justice minister Tzipi Livni, so that the bar association has a clear governing group and is not frozen by decentralized powers within the different groups.
Nave opposes the reform as disenfranchising lawyers in the periphery and rolling back progress he has made to expand “beyond the nation of Tel Aviv” to other parts of the country.
For example, Nave says that under his leadership, instead of forcing lawyers in Yavne, Petah Tikva and other places to come to Tel Aviv for all continuing legal education seminars, he initiated sending lecturers out to local locations.
The two candidates have also traded accusations on a number of issues.
Nave says his use of the local chapters to better serve lawyers in the periphery increased the number of lawyers attending seminars to 20,000 from around 5,000 and that Barzilai wants to roll this back.
He also states Barzilai showed poor judgment in standing up for former Tel Aviv District Court Judge Vered Alshich when she was accused of doctoring transcripts of court proceedings and that Barzilai has not fought new laws in the Knesset, which have unfairly reduced lawyers’ fees and improperly invaded the confidentiality of lawyer-client relationships.
Barzilai states Nave and his supporters tried to force neutral members of the lawyers’ election board off the board to help his chances in the elections.
Further, he says Nave has tried to block his efforts to reduce membership fees for the bar association in half.
Despite their differences, both Barzilai and Nave support a massive reform to training new lawyers and to the exam for becoming a lawyer.
Both support the new reform being pushed forward by Shaked to have greater oversight over new lawyers work conditions to ensure they are being trained in their first apprenticeship year.
They also support including in the exam questions on substantive law, as opposed to the current exam which only tests memorization of procedural law, such as how many days must pass between different legal motions being filed.