A Springboard to Private Practice… with a Little Help from the Faculty

A Springboard to Private Practice… with a Little Help from the Faculty


The Faculty of Law runs a variety of practical workshops as part of its ongoing effort to help students bridge the gap between theory and practice. Students learn to cope with real cases form the world of law and to understand the importance of small details. 


Zohar Drookman


Theory is only one side of law studies; many students today are interested in more practical studies. With this in mind, the Faculty has launched an initiative to encourage students to participate in courses of a more practical nature, as part of a broader effort to ensure that its graduates are as well prepared as possible for their entry into the world of practice.


This approach is reflected in practical workshops in diverse fields taught by senior attorneys from some of Israel’s leading law firms. The students enjoy an opportunity to become better acquainted with the complex issues encountered in the world of legal practice in areas in which they have a particular interest. The workshops enable the students to learn from the work of experienced attorneys, thereby helping them to bridge the inevitable gap between theory and practice. One of the most popular workshops among the students is the workshop in administrative law in the practical context, taught by attorneys from Agmon & Co. law firm. “Almost all the attorneys in our firm studied at the Hebrew University,” reveals Attorney Ayelet Golomb-Planer, a managing partner in the firm. “We are very fond of the Hebrew University and many of us are interested in teaching. That’s why we were pleased to run the workshop.”


Agmon law firm was established by Dr. Mishael Cheshin after he left the State Attorney’s Office and before he was appointed to the Supreme Court. “Cheshin had served as head of the Supreme Court Petitions Department, and he made a real effort to develop the field of administrative law in the firm. That’s why it’s only natural for us to run a workshop in this field,” Attorney Golomb-Planer explains.



Attorney Ayelet Golomb-Planer

How did the idea emerge?
We are Friends of the Faculty, and as a Jerusalem law firm we see this status as both an honor and a duty. We asked Professor Yoav Dotan how we could help and he suggested that we run a workshop. We were only too happy to take him up on his offer.


What is special about your workshop?
We address administrative law in practical life from various perspectives. Each partner who runs the workshop adds his or her own angle. Many of the partners had things they wanted to say and were eager to do so – all because of this shared love for the Faculty.


What’s the difference between your workshop and “regular studies?”
Our workshops include two key elements. Firstly, the lesson is chock full of examples from real life and we teach the subject by examining cases we have handled. In this way we show how theory meets practice – when the two complement each other, and when they don’t. The second element are the exercises. These aren’t standard academic exercises, but ones that attempt to challenge the students to cope with the same dilemmas we encounter in the practical domain.


What are your expectations of the students in the workshop?
First of all – to show an interest. Secondly – to raise doubts: to listen to us all and to try to ask some difficult questions. To see where we got it wrong and to cope with complicated issues. If possible, we also hope they will be involved in real life and bring questions for us to consider.


Is this is a preparatory course for practical legal work? 
My law studies didn’t prepare me for legal practice and the studies didn’t even claim to do that. I don’t expect graduates to know how to be attorneys the minute they arrive in my firm. The students should arrive with a good understanding of the law; all the rest happens in the firm. In the final analysis, being a good legal expert is about a way of thinking, a recognition that the world is complex, and analytical capability. For example, when I say something I need to be aware who said the same thing before me, how they phrase it, and how I diagnose it. The students acquire these tools at the Faculty, and these are very important skills.


Is there anything that you don’t manage to teach?
The Faculty doesn’t claim to teach students how to persuade others, but how to engage in objective and neutral thought. Neither does it teach them how to cope with officials and bureaucracy. This is an important part of work, particularly in the field of administrative law. It’s important that legal education should be very broad based so that graduates can then go on to learn a profession. The main thing is that students are equipped with legal thinking – that’s the most important thing the Faculty can do to prepare them for the world of practice.


Bridging the Gap


Another workshop that has gained popularity with the students is the workshop on mergers and acquisitions, which is taught by partners from Meitar law firm. “This is a very important field of work in our firm,” explains Attorney Dan Shamgar, a partner in the firm who runs the workshop. “We are one of the leading law firms in Israel in this field and we have worked on several of the most important deals made in Israel.”


Why do you teach the workshop?
There are several reasons. Firstly, the field of mergers and acquisitions is one that I am very well acquainted with in terms of practical experience. This is a very challenging field, and a fascinating one for attorneys who have a business orientation. The young guys I see who have just finished university have acquired a basic infrastructure of law studies, but there is a relatively wide gap between the way law is studied in academia and the way it is implemented in real life. This is true in many fields, of course, but in this particular field I felt that we could bridge this gap and give the students some kind of exposure to the field. By ensuring that they have a deeper understanding, they can move into the world of practice with better skills and start off from a more advanced point.


What is the reason for this gap?
This field is based on practice that has been built up over the years in Israel; very little of this is reflected in case law. Accordingly, it is only natural that the usual academic approach cannot really reflect this area. The gap is very significant. On the one hand we have rich, sophisticated, and very progressive practice in legal terms, with a strongly creative and innovative character. On the other, there isn’t a sufficiently strong approach of ensuring access to the real world so that the students can be exposed to this field.”


How do the students react to this gap?
They are fascinated by it. You take a group of students who are interested in this field – many of them are studying in a joint track with business management. And you can develop dialogue based on a similar worldview.


What do you actually teach in the workshop?
I offer the students a comprehensive review of each of the types of transactions encountered in the market. For each type of transaction, I work together with the students to formulate the logic that lies behind the business structure: the way it helps to realize the parties’ interests. I also expose them to everyday cases that raise all kinds of questions and challenges that we had to solve using the legal tools at our disposal. In the second part of the workshop I change tack a little and we begin to analyze specific transaction documents and to review all the paperwork. This study helps us put into practice the ideas we studied in the first part.


What was your impression of the students you taught?
I thought the students were very impressive and cooperative. These weren’t short encounters – each session lasted three hours. But despite this they listened attentively throughout the session and they helped me to create an atmosphere of discussion rather than a frontal lecture. I really enjoyed working with the students. I think my goal was to ensure that at the end of the workshop they felt that had enjoyed an interesting intellectual experience that had sparked their curiosity. My impression is that this is exactly what happened.



Attorney Dan Shamgar