The country is facing a glut of law students while other industries suffer from a dearth of talented people, Economy and Trade Minister Naftali Bennett told the Knesset Tuesday.
“Stop studying law, the entire State of Israel,” Army Radio quoted Bennett as saying during a discussion on the integration of the ultra-Orthodox population into the workforce. “This nonsense needs to be stopped. Whoever really likes it, that’s fine. I also studied law, [which was] unnecessary. The manufacturers are calling out [for workers]; so is the high-tech [industry].”
Israel has one of the highest rates of lawyers per capita. In 2010 it led the world with 585 authorized lawyers for every 100,000 citizens.
Doron Barzilay, the president of Israel’s Bar Association, acknowledged that there was a flood of lawyers, but blamed it not on the rise in the number of colleges teaching law but rather on the fact that it was simply too easy to become a lawyer.
“Legal education is important and welcome,” he insisted. But, Barzilay said, “the problem was and remains at the gates to the legal profession.”
Among the changes he proposes are increasing the length of the required internship period to two years, and modifying the bar exam to test thinking and analytic skills rather than memorization.
Uri Rashtik, the head of the National Union of Israeli Students, told the Globes daily that since the vocational schools were Bennett’s responsibility, he expected the minister to put his money where his mouth was and provide the funding needed by the struggling programs.
Bennett “doesn’t recommend that students study law, but he hasn’t kept his word and created a real alternative in the form of strong and stable technological education,” Rashtik said.