September 21, 2019

Guy Serussi: The Kid Attorney

Guy Serussi with Eli Zohar Adv.

The Jewish state has the dubious honor of having the most attorneys per capita in the world. One out every 100 people in Israel is a lawyer, and Guy Serussi, a whip-smart, upstart attorney with a heart of gold is one of them.

Serussi’s legal career has been in high gear since his teens. He knew he wanted to pursue law after seeing the 1999 Denzel Washington movie “The Hurricane,” based on the true story of Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, a boxer wrongly imprisoned for murder.  

After being drafted into the military, Serussi’s army career was blighted by a knee injury and he was demoted to a clerical role in an office. 

“In my view, litigation is the best self-expression a lawyer can have. Being in court takes all your skills and tests them in real time.” — Guy Serussi 

At the time, Serussi, a Ramat Gan native of Libyan and Ladino stock, said he felt “totally hopeless.” However, it wasn’t long before he decided that instead of wasting his time pushing pens, he might as well start studying for a law degree, even though it’s rare for Israeli teens to begin higher education just after graduating from high school, and almost unheard of while still in the army. But, Serussi said, “I was bored and I had a lot of time on my hands.”

By the time he was 25, he had undertaken his internship, passed the bar, earned a master’s degree in political marketing and government, and was working at a firm specializing in civil and commercial litigation. 

Now 27 (an age when most Israeli law students are just about to graduate), Serussi has his own firm with divisions in real estate law, corporate law and his favorite, civil litigation.

“In my view, litigation is the best self-expression a lawyer can have,” Serussi said. “Being in court takes all your skills and tests them in real time.”

Did it bother him that the legal field is so saturated?

Serussi laughed. “My lawyer number is 76909,” he said, referencing his registration with the Israel Bar Association. “But I believe that if you’re good at it and you have passion, there’s room for everyone.”

Serussi decided 10 to 15 percent of his firm’s cases would be pro bono, “because it makes me feel good and I also believe that the good will come back.”

He gave an example of a client who approached him about a rogue tenant who wouldn’t evacuate an apartment owned by the client’s deceased mother. The bereaved man, who had inherited the apartment, had no money to pay Serussi, but the lawyer helped him at no cost and managed to get the tenant evicted. 

“One week ago, I received a phone call that his brother-in-law wants to sell his house for 10 million shekels ($2,700,000) and he needs a lawyer,” Serussi said. “You just never know what door is opened when you [help] someone.”

Serussi’s latest project seeks to help young lawyers by sharing the experiences, wisdom and tips of some of the greatest legal minds in the country. Called “Short Sentence,” the initiative sees Serussi interviewing venerable powerhouses: attorneys who founded some of Israel’s biggest firms and who boast a client base that runs the gamut from the military-industrial complex to the prime minister himself.  

“I listen to these lawyers telling me the do’s and don’ts of [the profession],” Serussi said, “and I think one day, I want to be like them.”