New bill would have law students apprentice for 2 years
Students claim legislation’s aim is to let established lawyers have professional help without paying a fair salary.
By DAN IZENBERG
Students entering law school next year will have to complete two years of apprenticeship after finishing their academic studies, instead of the current one year, according to a government bill distributed to legislators on Wednesday.Law students, who have known about Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman’s intention to extend the apprenticeship, are up in arms over the change and have been holding protests outside the minister’s home.The students charge that the extension is aimed at enabling established lawyers to have professional help without having to pay a fair salary for two years, instead of one.However, the justice minister is strongly supported by the Israel Bar, which has been complaining for years that the quality of lawyers entering the profession has become badly diluted, largely because of the proliferation of colleges offering law degrees and the large number of graduates each year.The bill was presented to ministries and non-governmental groups, who will have 21 days to study it and submit criticisms or recommendations for changes.At the end of the period, the bill will be brought for approval to the Ministerial Committee for Legislation and from there to the Knesset.In addition to extending the apprenticeship by another year, the bill also calls for apprentice lawyers to take a six-month mandatory course on the practical aspects of law practice during their first half year, at the end of which they must take a multiple-choice exam.At the end of the second year, the apprentices will be examined again, this time on a case study.The bill also calls for intensifying the supervision of the apprenticeship years by placing a retired judge at the head of the system.The chairman of the Israel Bar, Yori Geiron, said that the bill “whichhas finally gotten under way, is the first practical harbinger of alegislative process aimed at establishing a reform of theapprenticeship and the entrance exams which the Bar has been working toadvance in the past few years...The bill is a step in the rightdirection to prevent the deterioration of the profession.”The bill, if passed before the end of the Knesset summer session, willonly go into effect in four years, so that anyone currently studying orlaw or performing his apprenticeship will not be affected.
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