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The Israel Bar Association on Tuesday approved stiffer requirements for apprentice lawyers, a move it said would help turn around the slump in the legal profession. The bar plans to double the year-long apprenticeship that follows university, a change requiring legislative action.

The association's central committee also approved an entrance exam for apprentices and the establishment of a training school that would emphasize areas such as legal ethics, dealing with government bodies, wording of documents and real estate transactions.

The new program will increase the bar association's supervision of apprentices and make changes in the written exam for acceptance to the bar. The first part of the new exam, in multiple-choice format, will be taken at the end of an apprentice's first year. The second part, to be taken at the end of the second year, will demand that applicants analyze a case, solve problems and draw conclusions.

The bar's president, Yori Geiron, said the profession was in a dire situation and worsening. "The flood [of incompetent lawyers] is causing contempt for the profession and a genuine social problem," Geiron said. "Our goal is to turn the situation around. We really have no other choice."

The organization of university law students, however, said it "does not look kindly on the process the bar association is conducting with the participation of law students. The goal of these plans is to close off the profession and prevent competition."