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Gul Senguler, Founding Partner, Senguler & Senguler

Gul Senguler explains how the firm is managing the challenging regional environment affecting the Turkish market.

What do you see as the main points that differentiate Senguler & Senguler from your competitors

There are many good firms in Turkey and naturally each one of us would like to believe we have unique features to make us stand out. In my view one area in which Senguler & Senguler has shown some special talent is in relation to our ability to network and cooperate at both local and international levels.

Having both Turkish and western lawyers on our team allows us to help foreign clients feel comfortable in the local environment. In addition, as a Relationship Firm for Eversheds Sutherland and being part of ALFA International legal network we have multi-jurisdictional resources at our fingertips.

Finally, we consider that an important part of service includes fully understanding our clients’ respective industries. This ensures we are not giving advice in a vacuum, but rather we are in a position both to resolve real issues immediately and able to help clients reduce legal risks by providing preemptive advice.

Which practices do you see growing in the next 12 months? What are the drivers behind that?

It is well known that the current business in Turkey and the region is challenging. This is evidenced by the drop in the number of M&A’s and finance projects over the last few years.

In the next 12 months we do not expect to see a significant improvement in the investment climate. This will mean that the pattern of work will probably remain much the same with the exception that there will be an increase in the number of disputes, both through the courts and by arbitration.

In arbitration in particular we have noticed a rise in cases and this will probably be a continuing area of growth. There also appears to be an increase in the growth of third party funding for large arbitrations and so we shall anticipate this may also lead to more cases.

Finally with the increase in restructuring and the re-emergence of unionisation we expect to see more labour law cases. This has been a significant area of growth for the firm in recent years as we have pioneered bulk employment case management on behalf of multinational employers with high workforce turnover.

What's the main change you've made in the firm that will benefit clients?

We put a lot of importance in developing our teams in specific legal disciplines. Many of our clients are multinational industrials which have large production facilities or large work forces located around Turkey. We seek to provide support on a day to day basis, both in HR corporate and compliance. To benefit these clients we have divided up our legal teams along these lines and our clients contact teams via a dedicated email to enable fast handling of enquiries.

Additionally when choosing and training team members we have sought to ensure that they are able to adapt to work in teams and have the skills and capacity to resolve issues quickly and in line with client expectations. There should always be at least two lawyers involved in each matter to ensure that there will never be an issue with lack of follow up.

Is technology changing the way you interact with your clients, and the services you can provide them?

One way we have used technology recently is to have both email and whatsapp groups, so that clients can make direct contact with the team using one address or group. In addition we have used data from our review of case management to report back to clients on process failure and then use the data to give training, produce basis operating practices/check lists for action in relation to HR and other issues. Finally we work with a number of clients via their reporting and billing systems to provide updates reports and progress on work done.

Can you give us a practical example of how you have helped a client to add value to their business?

In the past two years we have been acting for a multinational firm which employs between 3-4,000 employees to provide security services all over Turkey. There is a high turnover of employees due to the project based nature of many of the services. In the past there was a very high number of cases and no audit or reporting of these cases. We took over the cases and as each case called audited the cases for winability and procedural correctness. Where we found procedural failures we were able to train managers to follow correct procedures and reduce risk of cases being raised or lost. We also developed strategies to ensure there was evidence to defeat speculative claims for reinstatement. The combined savings for the client in reducing case numbers and stopping claims has been very significant.

Are clients looking for stability and strategic direction from their law firms - where do you see the firm in three years’ time?

It is the case that clients are keen to have a sense of stability in their support but we also note that there is a role for firms to help clients to adapt to improve practices and procedures. We are seeking to develop in this area and envisage increased cooperation with clients going forward.

As a firm we anticipate steady growth rather than meteoric expansion. The market is not really ripe for expansion and clients would prefer to know that the teams they know and trust can be relied upon going forward.

In three years time we would expect a level of growth but it will also depend upon the business environment in Turkey and the region. We are hopeful that by continuing to serve our clients well and effectively we can expand by organic growth to meet of new clients acquired on the back of existing client recommendation.

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