When much was happening around the world, especially with the global pandemic, we decided to start our firm – Guleryuz & Partners – in September 2020. We made a major investment ignoring all the current challenges, including COVID-19 and the sluggish Turkish economy.
Starting a new law firm literally from scratch has allowed me to notice the depth of the Turkish legal market. At first, the economic turmoil had a direct effect on the legal market since local clients were trying to scale back budgets. Political risks frighten foreign clients thus reducing their investments, meaning fewer opportunities for Turkish law firms and their lawyers. And, in this context, something challenges both local and foreign clients: problems associated with the judicial system and the weakening rule of law in Turkey. Extreme competitiveness is also a characteristic of the market, fueled by the ever-increasing number of lawyers available.
There have also been many positives, of course. First, despite Turkey’s own challenges, the country, a G20 member, also has long-term potential, with an increasing number of Turkish companies investing in other countries. Turkish lawyers are becoming more and more visible within the international scene, and the younger generation has a broader vision – in terms of foreign language, gender equality, sustainability, the rule of law, etc. At our law firm – and this also reflects our vision for the project from the start – we aim to work with those colleagues exemplifying the best qualities of a lawyer, those who can contribute towards a better, higher-toned market. In the long term, these positives will ultimately transform Turkey into a major player on the international stage.
Under current circumstances, we are also working hard on effective forecasting. Considering the devaluation of the Turkish lira and the current economic turmoil, Turkish assets are now much more affordable, thus attracting foreign investors, which will lead to an increase in inward investment and M&A transactions. There will also be an increase in all types of litigation, especially shareholder disputes and debt collection-related matters – since more and more Turkish citizens are facing these challenges today and, unless there are solid changes within the country, the number of those affected by the turmoil will, unfortunately, increase.
As a new player on the market, you first work to become more visible, then to become prominent, then you work on grabbing major headlines – focusing on e-marketing, identifying the most suitable international associations, becoming active members – so there’s a lot of networking. Our positioning in international markets has recently afforded us invites to conferences in Paris and Budapest. While there, I heard impressions of the Turkish market, as seen from the outside. Our European colleagues have a great interest in the Turkish legal market, for both inward and outward referrals. It’s understandable, considering that Turkish companies, such as Getir, Sisecam, Tiryaki, Tav, Anadolu Efes, etc., have seen a massive expansion – in particular towards Europe – and are thus attracting European attention.
The current restrictions still make it quite difficult for a new kid on the block. However, I estimate that the amount of work available within the Turkish legal market will increase moving forward, due, in part, to the overall global situation and, in part, because of the new opportunities that the Turkish market has to offer – despite the turmoil it’s currently suffering.
By Tarik Guleryuz, Partner, Guleryuz & Partners