Livni: New bill passed by committee will improve bar association, legal profession

The justice minister emphasized that greater state involvement in standards for lawyers would lead to better lawyers.

Judges preside in court (Illustrative) (photo credit: ILLUSTRATIVE: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Judges preside in court (Illustrative)
A bill to create greater “transparency, governance and professionalism which will strengthen and improve the [Israel Bar] Association and the legal profession, without closing its gates” advanced in committee, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni announced.
The Knesset Law, Constitution and Justice Committee passed the bill for wide-ranging reforms relating to the Israel Bar Association, Livni said on Sunday.
The reform was compiled following detailed consultations with the Bar Association, the Fruktzia and Gristol commissions (which studied similar issues), other experts and law student associations. Bar Association President Doron Barzilai expressed complete support for the reform, calling it a necessity.
Livni said that greater state involvement in standards for lawyers would lead to better lawyers.
The reform proposals include that the justice minister will 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 fellowships.
While the committee will still operate in the bill becomes law, the inspector will be above the committee and have the final say on policy.
Next, in following years, the bar exam itself will focus more on substance and candidates use of analytical tools to apply case law than the current model exam, which almost exclusively focuses on memorizing procedure and technical material.
Another change would be in the make-up of the Bar Exam Committee, which going forward would be appointed by the justice minister and be composed of three judges, two public service lawyers, two private sector lawyers and two academic legal scholars.
Until now the Bar Association has had two somewhat competing committees making various decisions.
Under the reform, the larger lawyers council membership would be reduced from 48 to 23 and the 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 elections for IBA leadership positions or even to temporarily replace certain persons until elections can be held if they are not properly fulfilling their duties.
The Tel Aviv Section of the Bar Association would be split to include a new Central Section, similar to the setup of the courts.
Only the national lawyers council would have authority to authorize use of the Bar Association’s money, to increase transparency and decrease uses of funds that lack oversight.
Also, the association’s budget would be accessible online.