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Handbook: Becoming a Lawyer in Israel

We have done the due diligence for you on Israeli legal education and career paths, read all about it below.

Israel owns the status of having the most attorneys per capita in the world, with qualified lawyers in every city and more qualifying each year.

Tel Aviv leads the pack with the highest concentration of lawyers and law firms, followed by Haifa and Jerusalem. Lawyers in Tel Aviv often earn more than their counterparts in Jerusalem and Haifa. Furthermore, both Jerusalem and Tel Aviv provide prospects in government service. In addition, many lawyers choose to work in private practice, either alone or in collaboration with other lawyers.

However, before one can be admitted into the Bar, students must attend a recognized university or college and earn a law degree.

The Reality of Internships

In the third year of law school, it is mandatory for all students to find an internship and complete a year and a half-long term.

This process is infamous in Israel. Thousands of law students every year follow the same weeklong routine to meticulously present themselves professionally as they make their way through a series of interviews lasting one week.

The reality of the situation is the importance of landing an internship, which is a critical milestone in all their legal careers. A week of interviews for a legal internship will most likely be exhausting and stressful. Meeting with various law firms, partners, and entities to display one’s abilities and potential as a future legal professional is expected. One can expect multiple interviews, sometimes written assignments, and networking activities may be scheduled over the week, which can be physically and psychologically draining.

Travel and accommodation fees may increase the financial strain. Candidates’ confidence is impacted by competitive conditions and prospective rejections. However, the week also provides a great opportunity to learn about other legal professions, network with possible colleagues, and make well-informed professional decisions.

Candidates may successfully navigate the week with proper preparation, time management, and a good mindset.

The bar Exam May Not be for Everyone

After the rigorous process of finding an internship and completing said internship, students can finally take the bar exam.

Students aspiring to be lawyers often devote three to five months of full-time study to this exam. According to the statistics we discovered, the pass rate for Olim has considerably decreased since the launch of the New Exam (based on information from Globes (Learn more). Only 35% of Olim (including those who made Aliyah as kids and had enough time to adapt and learn Hebrew) passed their first try in June 2023. Furthermore, new immigrants who have been in the country for up to 10 years have a pass rate of only 11%. All in all, on June 26th of this year, 1,958 applicants took the Israeli Bar Association tests, and just 49.5% passed, according to the test results.

The Israeli Bar Exam is entirely in Hebrew and is divided into three parts, lasting six hours. The first part is a written component, the second is a multiple-choice test on procedural law, and lastly, is a multiple-choice question on substantive law.

To add fuel to the fire, the exams are administered in Jerusalem and nowhere else. This means that many students attempting the exam will have to commute to Jerusalem the day before to avoid any issues getting to the exam on time.

The written component is a relatively new addition to the test structure, and it analyzes the examinee’s ability to draft various legal documents in Hebrew, such as court petitions, business contracts, leases, or any other important legal documentation selected by the Board of Examiners.

The Golden Cage

For those who pass the bar and can officially call themselves lawyers, here is what comes next. The usual workweek in Israel lasts five days, from Sunday to Thursday, with each day lasting around nine to twelve hours depending on the firm. Nonetheless, many firms use a “global basis” approach for legal employment, paying a fixed monthly payment regardless of actual hours worked. The average pay for an attorney with limited to no experience working at a law firm is about ₪12,500 a month. Salaries fall below the typical compensation levels seen in the AM Law 200 firms in the US and the magic circle law firms in the UK. However, with more experience comes more profit. Lawyers have an opportunity to make much more than that as they solidify themselves in the legal field.

Life as a lawyer in Israel can be a lucrative way of life. Those who follow this path will be able to provide for their families and be seen as respectable contributors to society. Although if someone were to ask an attorney what they think about their career choice, some may say that this profession is like living in a golden cage. It looks attractive on the outside, but once you begin your journey, it may be hard to leave.

Some lawyers feel trapped in their profession and, in turn, start to resent their work. Lawyers can work grueling hours and only spend a very limited time at home. This takes its toll on people and may cause burnout very early on in their careers. Even though this is a reality for a lot of lawyers, if an individual truly enjoys what they do and law is an unquestionable passion, a legal career may take you farther than you can ever expect.

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