Adv. Orit Hayoun's 23-year career has taken her to the most critical junctions in Israeli life and seen her confront the most important issues on the public and legal agendas. The Trade Bank affair, the Bar Noar shooting, the Inbal Or affair, the case involving the former champion athlete Svetlana Gnezdilov, the murder allegations against Amit Almog, and the Hadarim Prison shooting affair are just a few of the complex cases in which Hayoun's law firm has been involved.
Having served as counsel in some of Israel's most dramatic and high-profile legal cases, Adv. Orit Hayoun has now opened a special department in her legal firm for commercial-economic litigation, bringing her experience, professional skills, and international connections to the commercial sphere.
In our conversation with her, she explained why she founded a litigation department within her firm, and even agreed to revisit some of the legal cases that shook the nation.
"We are utilizing the determination, the combativeness, the persuasiveness, and the creativity of our firm in our strongest area – litigation,” Adv. Hayoun explains. "We've expanded our litigation activity into new areas thanks to our skilled staff and the personal and professional service we provide."
Commercial litigation and media savvy
Adv. Hayoun, along with Adv. Dean Kohavy and the staff of her law office, defend the firm's clients with all of the determination, force, and professional means available to them.
Each of their high-profile cases was marked by intensive media coverage and public scrutiny, under which Adv. Hayoun achieved impressive outcomes and legal precedents for her clients. Thoroughness, professionalism, and exactitude, as well as combativeness, creativity, and original thinking, are what made her one of the most prominent figures in Israeli criminal law. "I'm not afraid to fight the State Attorney's Office or the police when it's a matter of justice," she says. Thus, the economic, white collar, and litigation fields come naturally to her.
To understand the engine and fuel mix that drive Hayoun, one has to go back to the start of her legal career.
Hayoun holds a Master of Laws degree with a specialization in international criminal law and has unconditional certification in military justice. She completed her internship with the Tel Aviv District Attorney's Office in 1999. Two decades ago, she founded the firm that she still heads and which is ranked in the Dun's 100 as one of Israel's leading law firms in the criminal sphere.
The firm, its team, and Hayoun herself have amassed a vast trove of professional knowledge and experience in the areas of white collar crime; representing the security forces and state employees in criminal and administrative proceedings; representing and guiding businesspeople in the management of legal and media crises; providing legal advice to public and media organizations; handling exceptionally complex cases arising from widely covered affairs of public interest; and major criminal cases entailing additional specializations and overseas professional contacts.
“We were drawn to this field because of its close relationship to another of our firm's longtime areas of activity – the representation of clients in the free professions, such as accountants, physicians, financial service providers, attorneys, insurance agents, security/armed forces personnel, Education Ministry personnel, and state employees in general, in disciplinary, administrative, and criminal proceedings."
To all this has now been added a special department for commercial-economic litigation that, among other things, handles large damages claims against the state, and defamation suits.
This department offers a powerful combination of litigation skill and professionalism, ensuring professional, sharp, and combative representation in its spheres of endeavor. "It means that, if you're a businessperson being investigated in a case of market manipulation and there are investors in the picture, we also handle the crisis vis-à-vis your customers, your employees, and the media. This is in addition to the professional legal guidance we provide with regard to the investigating authorities and the prosecutor – meaning that the solution we offer is broad-based, deep, and exhaustive throughout the process."
The international connections enjoyed by Adv. Hayoun's firm have borne fruit in the form of major Israeli and global precedents. Her office in Tel Aviv's Recital Tower can now ensure a local attorney's ability to provide very preliminary counsel to clients practically anywhere in the world. Where necessary – and not infrequently – the firm's Israel-based staff advise clients who have been arrested due to economic or criminal entanglements abroad, drug offenses, money laundering, or hostile takeovers.
Over the years, Adv. Hayoun's law office has become one of the most prominent firms in the field, with expertise in representing Israelis imprisoned abroad, including those who have served time in Latin American and Third-World prisons, while providing professional legal counsel until their return to Israel.
"Our work with other firms around the world allows us to provide legal assistance abroad on very short notice," explains Adv. Hayoun, "while exercising our global expertise, which encompasses extradition law, the representation of tourists from foreign countries in Israel, and activity vis-à-vis the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the International Department in the State Attorney's Office. Our mix of specializations allows the firm to handle complex cases while offering the client assistance in the management of personal, familial, economic, legal, and media crises."
Reaching beyond the scope
It is not just in the courts that the firm's professional awareness and ethical outlook find expression. For two decades, Adv. Hayoun volunteered as legal adviser to the Tel Aviv-based Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel. She is a member of the Tel Aviv Bar Association's Committee on Criminal Affairs and its Committee on the Advancement of Women's Status. She has served in the administration and on the board of the Prisoner Rehabilitation Authority, by appointment of the president of Israel, and as a member of the Advisory Committee to the Yad La'Assir prisoner's assistance organization. In addition to all of this, she is in demand as a lecturer at academic institutions and professional conferences in Israel and overseas, serves as a legal commentator for various media outlets in Hebrew and English, and even does reserve duty with the IDF as an officer in the Military Defense.
Adv. Hayoun's public activity is consistent with her fearlessness – an attribute displayed even in petition cases against the State Attorney's Office and the police. That fearlessness also manifests itself in the way she fights to advance women's status and civil rights generally, as in the case of a transgender person who received damages when a saleswoman in a branch of a major retail chain insisted on addressing her with male pronouns.
In that case, as in other cases handled by Adv. Hayoun and the staff of her firm, the message echoes beyond the courtroom walls, particularly when legal precedents are at issue, or rulings that make a social and public statement.
In fact, the legal guidance often does not begin or end within the courtroom.
"Every case has its own characteristics, and we master them quickly so that we can provide legal and media solutions. We're always up-to-date, looking for new angles to every story. Above all, the clients who turn to us understand that they need a combination of legal-media know-how because today's arena lies beyond the courtroom. This is even more true when the incident takes place abroad and the Israeli headlines generate media buzz. In cases of this kind, it's very important that there be someone who can also handle the media side of things in full synchronicity with the legal side."
This combined mastery of the legal and media spheres has shown itself in the representation and handling of dozens of widely covered cases in the media, including numerous murder cases and the Trade Bank affair. Recently, Adv. Hayoun's efforts resulted in a rare legal precedent: the court permitted a psychiatric assessment of the suspect during remand, even before assessment by the district psychiatrist.
Another complex affair in which Adv. Hayoun was involved was that of Inbal Or, a case involving VAT law violations and fraud in the amount of over 81 million shekels ($25 million). Adv. Hayoun represented the six companies owned by Inbal Or and fought on behalf of over 600 families who were financially harmed and who, in essence, constituted the uninsured creditors in the criminal proceeding. Adv. Hayoun brought about an impressive plea deal in which a symbolic fine of only 1,000 shekels was imposed on each of the companies.
Other matters handled by Adv. Hayoun's firm include: the case of the Underground Bank at the Israel Diamond Exchange, in which an unreported bank transferred funds abroad amounting to a billion shekels; and the representation of, and joint activity with, women's organizations on behalf of Dalal Daoud, a battered wife accused of murdering her husband. Additionally, as noted, the firm handled the Bar Noar murder case, the Hadarim Prison shooting investigation, and the Supreme Court case against Israel Police Deputy Commissioner Ephraim Bracha. In all these complex cases, Adv. Hayoun was there, in the courtroom and in the media, fighting on all fronts and with all the force and professional means available to her – and racking up impressive achievements.
Superficially, it would be hard to find a clear link between the cases and issues in which Adv. Hayoun has been involved, but when asked she successfully connects the dots: a thorough and in-depth knowledge of the evidentiary material in the cases; expertise in the legal sphere, litigation, accumulated experience and knowledge, and, especially, uncompromising social-justice endeavor and a real passion for the profession.
An unstoppable force, Hayoun is forever charging ahead.
presented by Attorney Orit Hayoun