(photo credit: INIMAGE)
The Ministerial Committee on Legislation on Sunday is due to take up a major reform to the structure of the Israel Bar Association that governs lawyers.
The reforms are similar to those which had passed initial votes in the previous government in November 2014, but the bill needs to start over since it did not become law before the last Knesset dissolved.
Many of the proposed reforms were drafted following detailed consultations with the Bar Association, the Fruktzia and Gristol commissions (which studied similar issues), other experts and law student associations.
Under the proposals, the Lawyers Council membership would be reduced from 48 to 24 and the smaller central committee (and some other regional committees) would cease to exist and be replaced by the council.
This reform is designed to weed out unneeded apparatuses and to reduce political infighting in order to improve governability.
The justice minister would have the power to, in certain circumstances, order early elections for Bar Association leadership positions or even to temporarily replace certain persons until an election can be held if they are not properly fulfilling their duties.
Next, in following years, the bar exam would focus more on substance and on candidates’ use of analytical tools to apply case law than the current model exam, which is almost exclusively focused on memorizing procedure and technical material.
Also, the justice minister would appoint an inspector to oversee all pre-lawyer fellowships – a required period, usually of one year, when all lawyers must be mentored before they can sit for the bar exam.
Until now a national lawyers committee oversaw the pre-lawyer fellowship year.
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said that the “internal politics and the manner in which the IBA [Israel Bar Association] is operated seriously harm its ability to function.”
Shaked added that she was pushing forward with the legislation only days before Tuesday’s Bar Association presidential election face-off between the incumbent, Doron Barzilai, and Tel Aviv Bar Association President Efi Naveh, showing that she was not targeting anyone specific with the reform.
The reform was “important” to “renewing public faith” in the Bar Association, the minister said. In the past, Barzilai has expressed complete support for the reform package, calling it a “necessity.”