The Council for Higher Education (CHE) this week approved a new program initiated by Education Minister and Habayit Hayehudi Chairman Naftali Bennett, regulating the legal clinics being offered undergraduate law students, Kipa reported Monday.
The legal clinics offer practical training to law students, letting them experiment during their studies as they provide legal counsel to various entities (not including representation in court). To date, the field of legal clinics was not regulated and in fact was conducted in an unsupervised manner, with a clear bias in favor of organizations on the left side of the political spectrum, with which the universities have traditionally collaborated.
According to the new CHE decision, which Bennett initiated in order to open up the field to right-wing organizations, students will be allowed to choose the clinic where they prefer to receive their practical legal training. For the first time, institutions of legal education will be required to report to the CHE on the activities of the clinics, and report which clinics have not been approved and why. The CHE could impose sanctions on colleges for failing to approve the establishment of a given clinic for reasons that are not related directly to legal education.
In addition, the person who heads any given clinic from now on must be a faculty member (and not a member of the organization that offers the clinic).
Also, the criteria for determining the areas of activity of the clinics will be their educational value, and an effort will be made to diversify the range of activities so that students from all walks of life can access.
Minister Bennett issued a statement saying: “For many years, the leftists owned the privilege of dictating the tone of the legal world, both in academia and in the Israeli legal system. We are changing this reality now. We will open up the academic legal training to right-wing organizations that have been hitherto excluded from the map because of internal pressure from the universities. Each law student will be able to choose where to specialize and be able to do so according to his views and not the views others are trying to dictate to him.”
Deputy Chairman of the Council for Higher Education, Prof. Ido Perlman, said in a statement: “The legal clinics offer practical training and are of great importance in the training of lawyers in Israel. The new outline for the first time regulates the work of the clinics and ensures that students can choose in which clinics to volunteer without offending their worldview.”