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Legal life in… Turkey

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Selcuk Senguler is founding partner of Senguler and Senguler, here he tells us about his experience as a Turkish lawyer and working on international deals. He also provides an insight into how and why UK firms should develop working relationships with Turkish firms.

Selcuk Senguler is founding partner of Senguler and Senguler, here he tells us about his experience as a Turkish lawyer and working on international deals. He also provides an insight into how and why UK firms should develop working relationships with Turkish firms.

Why did you decide to become a lawyer?

My father is a retired judge, and still practising law. He served as a judge for more than 30 years in various levels of the Turkish civil and criminal courts in addition to Supreme Court of Appeals. I think I have been influenced by him a lot. I recall that he used to take me to the court house occasionally, and as a result, I started to become familiar with legal issues in the court rooms when I was a kid!

What is your role within the firm?

I am one of the founding partners of the firm and responsible for overseeing our corporate and commercial law department. My primary focus is on mergers and acquisitions (M&A), private equity, joint ventures, investments and projects. In addition to my commercial transaction specialty, I oversee the activities of the firm in a wide spectrum of law.

Tell us about your firm

The firm was established in June 2004 and has grown to become one of the leading local law firms in Istanbul. With a wealth of experience stretching back to 1995, the firm acts for many blue chip multinationals across a range of sectors. Known for its strong energy and corporate, M&A practice the firm benefits from a dynamic team of local and senior UK qualified lawyer and has a client-driven focus.

Have you worked as a lawyer abroad?

I have not worked as a lawyer in other countries than Turkey. However, I have been involved in a significant number of international transactions and have spent a lot of time in different jurisdictions in this respect. I have always found working with colleagues from different jurisdictions challenging and exciting!

What are the main opportunities and challenges for law firms in Turkey?

There are significant restrictions on foreign law firms operating in Turkey, and the legal service market is still not open to foreign lawyers. Therefore, there are only a few international law firms present in Turkey via alliances with local law firms. Practising Turkish law is exclusive to Turkish lawyers, and therefore there is no fear of foreign firms posing competition to Turkish law offices. However, some believe that the time will come when a large number of foreign firms will start operating in the market.While this makes many concerned about their future, others see new opportunities brought in with a globalised era whereby opening of the legal services market will also provide Turkish law offices an opportunity to enter the global market.

What advice would you give to UK law firms new to Turkey?

Last year Turkey grew faster than any other major economy barring China and India. The reach of Turkish companies is spreading and they operate not just across the region but around the globe. Turkey is now the world’s second biggest maker of flat glass and Europe’s third biggest producer of televisions. Many construction projects in the Middle East involve Turkish firms and workers.

In short, Turkey is one of the most promising emerging markets, and I believe that UK law firms operating internationally should all have a Turkey desk and develop links with Turkish law offices in order to properly advise their clients on international transactions involving Turkey. Lastly, it is important to remember that Turkey is a member of the continental legal system, so for any UK law firm dealing with projects that have a Turkish law dimension, local advice is of paramount importance.

What opportunities for co-operation are there between Turkish and UK law firms?

In the fields of international transactions and arbitration, Turkish and UK law firms can co-operate. I have witnessed successful co-operation between Turkish and UK law firms in the area of international arbitration and international transactions that have a Turkish law dimension.

Turkish companies are going global, so there will also be opportunities for Turkish law firms to refer work to their UK counterparts and work together in joint projects.

Finally, what are your recommendations for visitors to Turkey?

I would strongly recommend hiring a boat or going on a cruise to discover the magnificent gulfs in the south of Turkey. If you do not know how to sail, that’s not a problem since you can always hire crewed yachts. If you do not wish to spend your time away from the crowd, then come to Istanbul which is full of excitement and has something for everyone!

The Law Society launched a UK - Turkish legal programme in October 2011.

 

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