Vol. 11

Vol. 11 November 2012
Spanish Steps
Every year, students from the Faculty of Law visit universities around the world as part of our exchange program* Some of the participants are motivated by a desire to do something different, others are interested mainly in the academic opportunity, and others still are making a dream come true* Read about the experiences of Reut Hevroni, an exchange student at ESADE University in Barcelona, Spain.
The Clinical Center: Academia Serving Society
The Faculty of Law's Clinical Center launches its programs for the 2012/13 academic year. The clinics are expanding, changing and working hard on new projects. 
We invite you to take a closer look at the work of the Clinical Center.
The Effectiveness of International Tribunals
Thanks to a grant from the European Union, a group of doctorate students and researchers in the Faculty, headed by Prof. Yuval Shany, is preparing a book that will consider ways to increase the effectiveness of international tribunals during their establishment.
Ediror: Ronen Polliack
Editorial board: Michal Totchami, Zohar Drookman
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Faculty of Law - All Rights Reserved

Spanish Steps

Spanish Steps


The Student Exchange Program at the Hebrew University's Faculty of Law offers a chance to visit a variety of attractive locations around the world. In recent years, the Faculty signed agreements with leading institutions, including the law faculties at UCLA and Stanford. The growing importance of East Asia was reflected in new agreements with top-ranking schools in Singapore, Taiwan and Hong Kong. Exposure to foreign academia is a special opportunity the Faculty offers to outstanding students. The exchange program is growing each year, in terms of both the number of institutions and the number of students participating.

A large number of students apply each year for the exchange program. Some of the applicants are looking for a different cultural and academic experience as a break from the routine of life in Israel. Others are mainly interested in the chance to learn about different legal systems.

Brief enquiries suggest that most exchange students focus mainly on their studies, but also take time to visit the sites and to get to know students from around the world. Reut Hevroni (24, Jerusalem) is a third year law and psychology student. Reut, who certainly meets the program's requirement of excellence, is visiting ESADE University in Barcelona, Spain through the exchange program. Her choice of Spain was no coincidence, and was motivated by her passion for traditional flamenco dance. "The homeland of flamenco is in Spain, although further south in Andalucia," she explains. The beauty of flamenco lies in its folk character. Reut recalls an experience that emphasizes this: "Once I was just walking down the street when a woman started setting the rhythm and a young man began to dance. It was as if people suddenly started dancing the hora in Tel Aviv," Reut joked.
Reut Hevroni.

"Reut describes the experience of studying in Barcelona as a taste of classic European academia. She is enjoying the opportunity to study at a university steeped in the Continental tradition and in a foreign language, and to encounter an unfamiliar legal system. The program includes one semester of studies, but the Spanish academic system has given Reut a chance to develop both in her law studies and in her hobby, which in her case is really a second profession. Despite her love of dance, Reut also mentions some challenges: "It's a very hard profession and a very competitive world. Maybe one dancer in a million manages to make an impression, so it is very hard to decide whether this really what you want to do." Reut is combining two competitive and demanding fields, but she still manages to pursue her law studies and to dance several times a week. "I think I will always find time to dance, because it's something that makes me feel good. I would love to be successful in this field, but there's no way of knowing where it will take you."


Reut seems to enjoy the best of both worlds. Her fellow students are fascinated to find themselves sitting alongside a flamenco dancer. We asked her how students from different countries react to her hobby. "Everyone who hears about it is really enthusiastic. It's a great way to start a conversation," she says. "Some people are also looking for ways to add special value to their exchange experience – something different they can do. For example, one woman who studies with me is a hockey player, and one of the guys likes to dance salsa. The fact that other people are doing things outside their studies motivates you to do the same." Reut, our representative in Catalonia, is certainly taking her exchange experience step by step.

And what about the experience of studying in Spain?

The studies have a strong practical orientation.

Apart from the different geographical and cultural setting, there are also quite a few differences compared to law studies in Israel. Most of the students are aged 18 to 22, and the fact that they are younger than their Israeli peers explains some of the differences in the study requirements. For example, approximately half the student's final grade (and sometimes more) is based on attendance at 80 percent of classes and participation in class. The lessons are based mainly on reading material, and the lecturer often begins by asking the students what they thought of the material. An informal discussion in the corridor between students in the Faculty of Law raises an interesting conclusion: Although the Israeli students read less than their Spanish classmates, they participate more in class. Is this just Israeli bravado? We'll find out when the final grades are published. For now, our representatives in Spain are discovering that the Continental legal system influences the study style, as well as the content of the courses. The system is based on legal codes and the judge plays a different role; perhaps because of this, the studies have a strong practical orientation. In many cases, the law is taught as a simple point of fact, without discussing the rationale behind its enactment. Law students, and even those working in the profession, do not always know the judges by name. "If a judge is known by name, this is usually not a good sign," comments Dr. Anna Salom Vidal, a lecturer in comparative law.

The Clinical Center: Academia Serving Society

The Clinical Center: Academia Serving Society

During their years of study at the Faculty of Law, the students attend classes discussing laws, ideas and the thoughts of different philosophers, judges and scholars. As the French philosopher Albert Camus pointed out, "There always comes a time when one must choose between contemplation and action." The Faculty of Law's Clinical Legal Education Center, directed by Dr. Einat Albin, offers students a chance to move between the spheres of contemplation and action, to put ideas into practice, and to participate in hands-on legal action. Legal field work also provides an opportunity to assess where the law is meeting the needs of reality and where it shows failures or inadequacies. This is not only vital for understanding the practice and limitations of law, but also yields important insights that help the students gain more from all their courses in the faculty.


These insights can in turn encourage change in the law. A wide range of clinics relating to diverse fields of law is offered, and new clinics are introduced each year. In this issue, we focus on the activities and innovations in two of the clinics offered in the new academic year.


The Legislative Consultation Department

The Civil Justice Clinic has changed its format this year. Attorney Hagit Borochovitz, one of the clinical teachers last year, was particularly impressed by a project that began with a position paper prepared by Chaim Avraham, one of the students who worked in the clinic. Chaim, aged 26 from Jerusalem, recalls: "The idea was the direct result of one of the cases I was involved in. A convicted rapist had evidently smuggled assets out of Israel in order to avoid paying compensation. Similar cases were also mentioned during conversations in the clinic. I wanted to try to find a solution to the problem faced by victims." It emerged that the State of Israel has not established a public mechanism for compensating the victims of criminal offenses (along the lines of the mechanisms used to compensate the victims of road accidents and acts of hostility). As a result, if offenders smuggle out their assets, the victim will be unable to secure compensation, even if this has been ruled in their favor in an individual claim.

The essence of the clinics' role is to enable students to apply the theoretical knowledge they have acquired in the practical world. "This year," Attorney Borochovitz explains, "we chose to take this position paper and translate it into practice. We recruited a team of four students: Efrat Gidron, Lahan Sarid, Oren Ron and Yishai Rivlin. The team prepared a paper that eventually became a proposal to amend the Criminal Victims' Rights Law." Borochovitz adds that this entailed a protracted process. "We undertook extensive legal research, including comparative law, brainstorming, in-depth reflection, and consultation with professionals in relevant fields from the Faculty and elsewhere."
Chaim Avraham: "The idea was the direct result of one of the cases I was involved in. A convicted rapist had apparently smuggled assets out of Israel in order to avoid paying compensation… I wanted to try to find a solution to the problem faced by victims."

Lahan Sarid, one of the students in the team, highlights the complex nature of the task. "It wasn't easy to find a mechanism that secures the victim's right to compensation while avoiding disproportionate injury to the defendant's right to property." With this in mind, the mechanism included in the proposed law establishes that a warning notice may only be recorded on any of the defendant's assets at the indictment stage. Despite the intensive work involved, Lahan warmly recommends that students participate in the clinic's work: "From my own experience, the work on this project was one of the most meaningful things I have ever been involved in. I was originally attracted to the clinic because I wanted to work with victims, but the combination of this field and the field of damages law opened up interesting new vistas for me. I worked with a very diverse group of people, and the clinical staff really deserve credit for the amazing way they steered the process." Attorney Borochovitz adds that the next stage of the process will include efforts to interest Members of Knesset in advancing the proposed law and securing the amendment of the existing legislation.


The Innocence Project – A First in Israel

This year, the clinic is launching Israel's first-ever Innocence Project to provide representation in applications for retrials. Attorney Manny Salomon, who is supervising the project, notes that the inspiration for the initiative came from the Innocence Project founded in the US. "Our goal was to try to secure the acquittal of prisoners by means of DNA tests that were not available at the time of their trial," Attorney Salomon explains. "The US Innocence Project developed on the basis of clinics in various faculties of law. Today, it is an independent body that has managed to secure the acquittal of around 300 prisoners."


Some positive developments have also been secured in Israel in this field, particularly since the establishment of the Public Defender's Office. Attorney Salomon recalls that, prior to 2001, the picture was extremely bleak. At the time, only the attorney general could submit an application for a retrial. "This was a problematic arrangement, given the inherent conflict of interests it entailed. The unfortunate result is that, to date, the attorney general has only submitted one application for a retrial," Salomon adds. The Baranes affair, when a defendant was convicted of murder and only acquitted after a lengthy public and legal struggle, led the Public Defender's Office to initiate a legislative amendment enabling any person to request a retrial. "These are complex and protracted proceedings that require personnel and budgets that are simply not available," Salomon explains. "Accordingly, the Public Defender's Office announced the establishment of the Innocence Project. Several private law firms agreed to handle one such case each a year." However, the current situation is still unsatisfactory, and intensive work is needed both in terms of representation and on the level of policy advocacy. The Innocence Project that is being launched this year seeks to meet this need. Eight students from the Criminal Justice Clinic are participating in the project. Attorney Salomon highlights the wide range of issues the students will address: "The students will supervise retrial cases from the moment the application is received. They will comb the evidential material carefully in an effort to collect, discover and expose evidence and flaws that can secure a retrial. They will also help represent the case before the Supreme Court when it hears the application." Attorney Salmon also mentions a further aspect of the students' work: "The students will help promote various proposed laws relating to the field of retrials, as part of an effort to reduce the factors that lead to false convictions and to provide a simple and rapid legal course for implementing the right to a retrial and for correcting judicial distortions."


Attorney Salomon believes that the justice system cannot be complete without a control mechanism that can help improve the judicial process and reinforce public confidence in the courts. "The project is beginning in our clinic, but in the future we hope that the other universities and colleges will also open clinics." Looking further ahead, Salomon concludes: "Eventually, the vision is that the project will become a strong and independent body."

Attorney Manny Salomon: "The students will supervise retrial cases from the moment the application is received… and will also help represent the case before the Supreme Court."


The Effectiveness of International Tribunals

Researchers in the Field: The Effectiveness of International Tribunals


"The European Union is intensively involved in establishing and maintaining international tribunals. Yet no structured methodology has been developed for examining the effectiveness of these tribunals," says Professor Yuval Shany, dean of the Hebrew University's Faculty of Law and the founder of the Project on Assessing the Conditions for Effective International Adjudication. The project, which is being implemented under the auspices of the European Research Council, is now entering its fifth year and seeks to tackle this complex field. "The project provides a framework for evaluating the effectiveness of tribunals and ways in which this can be influenced. This kind of project can provide decision makers with tools for deciding whether to establish a new tribunal or to reform an existing one."

How did you recruit researchers to the project?

"Some of the researchers responded to a call to participate in the project – particularly post-doctorate students, some of whom came from abroad. I also contacted doctorate students whom I felt were suitable for the project. Israel is a small country, and the number of people involved in the field of international law is fairly limited."

How do you examine whether tribunals are effective?

"The question is effective in whose eyes, and for what purpose? Our central argument is that tribunals must meet the expectations of those who founded them. The research group has prepared a framework for evaluating the effectiveness of international tribunals. The researchers apply this framework, or sections of it, to research questions regarding the effectiveness of particular tribunals or specific aspects of their work."

What findings have you reached?

"In many cases, tribunals were asked to fill numerous and sometimes contradictory functions. This means that from the outset the structure of the tribunal prevented it from working effectively. For example, if a tribunal is instructed both to resolve conflicts within a short period of time and to ensure the full and final solution of all the issues it hears, a conflict may emerge between these two objectives."


A research microcosm

The concept of "effectiveness" covers a very broad research field. The research team is examining a type of effectiveness that is qualitative, rather than quantitative. Peter Drucker, the founder of modern management theory, argued that "Efficiency is doing things right; effectiveness is doing the right things." The project partners seek to answer the research question by applying diverse and sometimes multidisciplinary approaches. For example, Dr. Maria Varaki, a Greek legal scholar, is applying theories from the fields of sociology and organizational management. Varaki, who formerly served as a consultant in the Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, is examining how this tribunal managed to establish its legitimacy. She comments: "No-one considered sociological legitimacy in advance, and it was never emphasized in the declarations. People focused exclusively on legal legitimacy."


Varaki. "People focused exclusively on legal legitimacy."


Dr. Shai Dothan is also examining the effectiveness of the ICC, but from a different perspective: that of a law and economy approach. Dothan is considering when the ICC should intervene in trials conducted against war criminals by some countries. "Two types of countries are subject to the authority of the ICC," Dothan argues. "Some countries will refrain from holding sham trials due to the quality of their judicial system, while others will be willing to hold such trials in order to serve their interests. If we assume that the ICC is unable to expose the sham nature of these trials, whether due to a lack of tools or a desire to avoid conflict, the question that arises is whether it should intervene in the trials of war criminals or give states an incentive to conduct trials themselves?."


Sigall Horovitz, a doctorate student and a member of the team, is also examining international criminal law, but is concentrating on the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. "I am examining the tribunal's effectiveness in terms of the securing of a specific goal: to promote reconciliation."

"The project can provide decision makers with tools for deciding whether to establish a new tribunal or to reform an existing one."

"Horovitz is considering how changes in the domestic legal system in Rwanda, such as the abolition of the death penalty and the prosecution of war criminals from the dominant Tutsi tribe, contributed to the process of reconciliation.

 "I spent two months in Rwanda," Horovitz explains, "and I undertook over 50 in-depth interviews with attorneys who represented the parties involved in the Tutsi trial, witnesses, prisoners whose death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment, victims, neighbors and community leaders. I also interviewed national leaders in order to gain a macro perspective."

The research does not only focus on international criminal law. For example, Sivan Shlomo-Agon, a doctorate student in the Faculty, is examining the dispute settlement system of the World Trade Organization (WTO). "I show how the balance and emphasis on the goals changes in different types of disputes, depending on the challenges the dispute settlement system is required to confront." Shlomo-Agon adds that cases that do not fall into classic molds are the most relevant for her examination. "I am looking at disputes that involve commercial interests, on the one hand, together with other values, such as environmental protection, health, or human rights, on the other. In these disputes, the WTO has attempted to enhance its legitimacy in the broad sense – not only its legitimacy as a legal system, but the legitimacy of the WTO as a body."


A team meeting. "We already have graduates of the project working in the Ministry of Justice and at the Israeli embassy in The Hague."


Coming soon: The book

The project is entering its fifth and final year. Next year, Oxford University Press is due to publish a book summarizing the research findings. Apart from the book, the project has also had less direct outcomes. "One of the goals of this type of research group is to influence discourse in the country where the research takes place,"

"Our central argument is that tribunals must meet the expectations of those who founded them."

Professor Shany explains. "We already have graduates of the project working in the Ministry of Justice and at the Israeli embassy in The Hague. We have provided academic and practical tools for people who hope to work in the future in the field of international tribunals in Israel and around the world." 

The project members meet for a weekly discussion at which they review articles, projects and ideas of group members or others and engage in brainstorming. The interaction between the members of the group creates an encounter between different worlds. Some of the members of the group are not Israelis, and some of the foreign members participate in the meetings from abroad over the internet. The members also come from different academic disciplines, creating a further encounter. "One of the nice things about this project," Professor Shany concludes, "is the chance to work with all kinds of researchers from around the world. That's good for research, good for the Faculty, and good for the University."


From right: Shany, Horovitz, Shlomo-Agon and Varaki. "One of the goals… is to influence discourse in the country where the research takes place."