Justice gavel court law book judge 311.
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In a special chapter on the Bar Association in an audit report filed to Knesset
on Monday, State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss said that the organization’s
legal aid program needed to do more to serve low-income Israelis in need of
The Bar Association’s ‘Schar Mitzvah’ pro bono program,
established in 2002 to provide legal aid to those on a low income, is designed
to complement legal aid provided by the Justice Ministry’s Legal Aid
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Lindenstrauss’s audit found that while the number of applicants
to the program more than tripled between 2005 and 2009, from 1,200 to 4,000, the
number of people actually receiving representation only increased from 234 to
244 in the same time period.
The state comptroller also criticized the
Bar Association for only using part of its yearly advertising budget to increase
public awareness of the pro bono program.
The level of participation in
the program and the degree to which it is being advertised to the public did not
correspond to the program’s importance, despite it being one of the Bar
Assocation’s functions, Lindenstrauss said in his audit report.
comptroller also slammed what he said was a “serious dispute” between the Bar
Association’s Central Committee and the regional committees regarding the
division of powers and functions of each. Lindenstrauss called on the Bar
Association to resolve the argument as quickly as possible, because of concerns
that it may affect public confidence and damage lawyers’
Lindenstrauss said the Bar Association, whose duties involve
accrediting and disciplining lawyers as well as providing legal aid, plays an
important public role because it regulates the legal profession and oversees
professional ethics, and its proper functioning was therefore of great public
The State Comptroller’s Report also uncovered other issues,
including a lack of transparency about election campaign financing and asked the
Bar Association and the Justice Ministry to impose regulatory guidelines, which
should be enshrined in law.
The audit also criticized the Bar Association
for failing to address lawyer accreditation examinations or the length of the
“stage” training period undertaken by newly qualified attorneys, both issues
that have been debated in recent years.
The state comptroller also called
on the Bar Association to provide more training courses for lawyers,
particularly in the periphery, and noted that from 2007-2009 the Bar only held
one training course in the country’s southern districts.