Thanks to Baruch Bebchick for his contribution to this article. To read more about the new law, see the following link.
The new law amends a longstanding legal requirement for all lawyers in Israel (including those that have made Aliyah and had no intention of working in Israeli law) to be regulated and registered with the Israeli Bar Association (IBA). For the first time, with the IBA’s backing, foreign licensed attorneys can advise Israeli clients on matters pertaining to the law in the jurisdictions in which they are licensed. For instance, a U.S. lawyer can now advise Israeli companies and entrepreneurs about matters pertaining to U.S. law, without having to fulfill the requirements that had been imposed on all Israeli lawyers.
Before the new law, if a foreign lawyer did not want to be a member of the IBA and did not want to fulfill the requirements for membership – taking nine “Dinei Yisrael” exams, completing one year of apprenticeship (stage), and taking the Israel Bar Exam (unless the lawyer had at least 5 years of experience, in which case s/he could bypass taking the exam) – the lawyer had no way of practicing law in Israel. But now, under the new law, such a lawyer has the option of becoming a foreign lawyer. This means that the lawyer would have to pay for professional liability insurance (something that is not required of Israeli lawyers) and an annual fee to the IBA, but would not have to do the Dinei Yisrael exams, a year of apprenticeship or the Israel bar exam (if the lawyer has less than five years of experience). Of course, a foreign lawyer cannot practice any Israeli law, but is free to practice law as the lawyer was doing in her/his country of origin prior to making Aliyah.
This new law applies to attorneys trained in the US, UK and Canada, and to all foreign trained attorneys. The requirements are to take out professional reliability insurance, with an Israeli insurance company. Insurance is approximately 6,500 NIS per year (for 1.5 million NIS of coverage). The registration fee for the Israel Bar Association is approximately 3,000 NIS. Insurance figures vary, depending on the lawyer’s years of experience and the area of concentration. Hopefully, with more foreign lawyers coming on board, the costs will go down.Taking an ethics exam is required. The ethics exam can now be taken in English, and contains 20 questions. Olim prior to Aliyah should work with a firm, and gain as much hands-on experience as possible. An Oleh should attempt to do their job (outside of Israel, prior to Aliyah), as well as they can in order to make themselves valuable to their current employer. An Oleh should make himself a critical asset to their employer –as this will be in his favor when suggesting if working from Israel could be a suitable option. The Oleh should attempt to develop a networking base, contacts with other attorneys, professionals and clients. If an Oleh would like to open his own firm it is extremely valuable to have contacts.It is best to keep all options open and meet as many people as possible, gaining experience so that when arriving in Israel, the Oleh will be attractive in the competitive market in Israeli firms.
This job would be relevant to any foreign attorney, who for whatever reason does not want to go through the process of becoming a member of the Israeli Bar Association or would not like to be involved in the Israeli Law Firm structure and would like to carry on working as they did outside of Israel. It would also be relevant to any Oleh with less than five years experience –and doesn’t want to do a twelve month stage. It is suitable for foreign attorneys who are most comfortable writing and working in their mother tongue, and want to continue their work as they had done outside of Israel, in Israel.
Having said that, going by this new law would not be recommended to an Oleh who desires to practice Israeli law- as practicing Israeli law and working in an Israeli firm would not be possible. It should also be taken into account that Israeli lawyers are not required to take out insurance. This new law enables and presents another option to the potential Oleh to work in Israel, without having to go through the complicated process that the Israel Bar Association requires. This new law allows Israeli clients to contact a foreign licensed attorney, about legal matters abroad, without having to pay foreign rates.
If you have questions about your eligibility to meet Israeli licensing requirements, please see: Professional Licensing in Israel