CLB Ramat Gan to launch first-ever ‘half-English’ law degree program

Law school Dean Moshe Cohen-Eliya said that the college has “always been a pioneer” in education and in programs for English speakers.

MOSHE COHEN-ELIYA 370 (photo credit: Courtesy)
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The College of Law & Business in Ramat Gan will be offering a first-ever first degree in law (LLB) that is half in English, starting in February 2014.
Law school Dean Moshe Cohen-Eliya said that the college has “always been a pioneer” in education and in programs for English speakers and is part of a trend of overcoming traditional biases against teaching law strictly from a “local perspective” as opposed to “a global one.”
He said that the college was the first school to apply to the Council of Higher Education three years ago for permits to open first-degree law programs with a greater emphasis on English.
The idea of the program is to open up the doors of Israeli law to people making aliya from the US, England and other foreigners who speak English fluently, and to cater to students whose families have already moved to Israel but who still are more comfortable with English.
The program’s primary focus is to “prepare students to become Israeli lawyers,” consistent with the college’s Zionistic commitment, but its English and global components “preserve the option to practice law” in English-speaking countries, said Cohen-Eliya.
Next, Cohen-Eliya noted that such a balance of options was “more attractive for how people now view the world more globally.”
He added that the half-and-half model would push students to learn Hebrew, while giving them a slightly softer landing than if they had to take all of their classes in Hebrew from the start.
Cohen-Eliya said that graduates could apply to take the New York bar exam, once they are approved by the New York Board of Bar Examiners, and that the college already had former students even from its regular Hebrew-language law program who had become New York lawyers.
He added that the law degree would also be transferable to various other English-speaking countries.
Out of a total of 140 credits, 70 credits will be taken in English, with the program running three-and-a-half years.
The program also has a signed agreement with Iowa Law School, for certain students who want both Israeli and American credentials, to get an American law degree in only two years, allowing students to complete both degrees in only five-and-a-half years.
Another program connected to the school allows certain students to get an LLM at Chicago Kent Law School along with the Israeli law degree in only four years total, including one year at Chicago Kent which counts partially toward the Israeli degree.
The LLM opens possibilities for students to become lawyers in US jurisdictions besides New York.
Finally, the program also has study abroad opportunities at Harvard, in Paris and at Oxford.
A law degree at the college costs NIS 30,000 (approximately $8,500) per year, far below the $37,000 per year which some websites estimate as the average cost for a law degree at a US law school, with some top schools running in the $40,000 to $50,000 range.
According to Cohen-Eliya, the Iowa program is discounted from $40,000 to $20,000 for students who work as research assistants, and the Chicago Kent LLM program is $19,000.
Cohen-Eliya also discussed the program’s language guidance component, which he said was a “breakthrough” and would include faculty available in each class in Hebrew to explain at the end of class any Hebrew words or concepts that native English speakers did not understand.
He added that students could submit tests in English even in the “Hebrew half” of their classes.
The program’s initial goals are modest, with a hoped-for 20-25 student enrollment, so that the college can “get a feel for the lay of the land” in this new arena of education, said Cohen-Eliya.
Cohen-Eliya held out hope that the school might even host a full English program in October 2014, subject to approvals by the Council on Higher Education, and as planned by the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) of Herzliya.
Many other law schools throughout the country have partial or full LLM programs in English and elective courses in English, but at press time, the college and IDC were the only schools who had confirmed new jumps in first-degree law school programs in English.Danielle Ziri contributed to this story.