Shay Segal

Basic facts: 48 years old; gradated from Tel Aviv University Law School in 1987; specializes in commercial litigation, civil law. Shay Segal is currently deputy chairman of the Israel Bar Association and head of its National Bridging Institute. This is his third race for chairmanship of the Bar. In the last election, he openly identified himself with the Likud. This time, however, Segal is running as an independent and says he is strongly opposed to what he describes as the politicization of the Bar under outgoing chairman Shlomo Cohen. Segal's platform is based on three elements aimed at improving the stature of the law profession. First of all, there has been a large increase in the number of lawyers, a development he does not oppose but regarding which new employment opportunities must be found. One solution is the introduction of a procedure known as "Early Neutral Evaluation," currently used in California to speed up the judicial process. The procedure applies to a variety of lawsuits in the areas of personal injury, property, faulty construction, financial claims, bank claims and tax claims. According to the procedure, before such claims go to court, a lawyer will be appointed to each case and present the sides with a suggestion for resolving the dispute. Segal says he has already held a workshop for lawyers on the system with the help of the US embassy in Israel and lawyers from California. Segal also places great faith in the bridging process and believes it should become a legislated, mandatory procedure. "There should be at least one preliminary bridging session before a case can go to court," said Segal. "The disputants will submit their statements of claim and defense to the court, but prior to appearing before it, they will be summoned to a bridging session." The mediators will have to be licensed lawyers and graduates of the institute. Segal also wants to extend the articling period from one to two years and set up a center in the Bar to help fledgling lawyers for the first two or three years. The center will teach them practical skills and help them make contacts in the professional world. Segal remains an outspoken champion of the questionnaire distributed to all lawyers asking them to assess the way the judges conduct themselves in court. The questionnaire, which was introduced by outgoing Bar chairman Shlomo Cohen, caused a severe rupture with the judiciary until Cohen finally retreated. But according to Segal, "it is a very effective instrument" and ought to be restored. The results of the questionnaire should be used by the Judges Election Committee in determining judicial promotions. "It is inconceivable that the committee will choose those 15-20 percent of the judges who have not received a favorable assessment by the lawyers," he says. Despite his belief in the questionnaire, Segal is a strong supporter of the Supreme Court in its present form. "We should not reduce its powers," he says. "At least there is one institution in the country that is not corrupt." He also supports the current composition of the Judges Election Committee. On hearing that Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann had presented a bill to dilute Supreme Court representation in committee, he charged that the bill's only purpose was to weaken the court. However, Segal wants to see more private lawyers elected to the Supreme Court and insists that the Bar's two representatives on the election committee should work toward that end. Currently, he says, each of them acts independently instead of representing the official policy of the Bar. Finally, Segal wants to reintroduce minimal, mandatory fees for legal services provided by lawyers.