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Bora Aktürk, Managing Partner

Managing Partner Bora Aktürk shares his ideas about the changing dynamics of Turkish Legal Market and Aktürk AB’s priorities in the market.

What do you see as the main points that differentiates Aktürk AB from your competitors?

The main point that differentiates our firm from other firms is our location. We are neither located in Istanbul nor in Ankara but Antalya which has a unique nature of business eco-system mainly bases on tourism, agriculture and real estate/construction with limited financial capacities. Cutting edge sectors like technology, finance and energy is less developed in this region.

Our colleagues from Istanbul or Ankara may think that this is a big disadvantage for an international corporate law firm but we are not looking like that. We are thinking that all “competitors” in big cities are our best friends and solution partners in Antalya and Mediterranean Sea Region. In this manner, we also have very good relations with many of them and working in cooperation with them in this region.

Beside this geographical difference, I can say that we are a very open minded firm. We are following up developments both locally and globally, for example following up international publications like M&A reports of Thomson Reuters and MergerMarket, Am Law Daily, Corporate Counsel and others. We are always trying to understand where local and global legal markets are going and what should we do to adopt our self to these trends. We are thinking that this is something essential to survive in this competitive environment.

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

I think most important practice we see growing in the next 12 months would be mediation. Because unfortunately our judicial system is almost bankrupted. I should confess that the quality of the judges and public prosecutors are worst in Turkish history. There are millions of files in the courts which is something not sustainable. Ministry of Justice also realized this and introduced mediation as of as an alternative dispute resolution mechanism by the Law on Mediation in Civil Disputes No 6325. Mediation system entered into force on 22.06.2013 and in this last 4 years’ period around 12.000 lawyers completed compulsory training, passed the examinations and 4727 of them licensed by the ministry as a “Mediator” others or in progress (including me).

According to figures of the ministry of justice, until now 10.602 disputes with a value of 739.719.478,37 TL have been resolved by the parties under supervision of a mediator. Ministry of Justice is frequently organizing seminars, conferences and broadcasts public spots to increase the awareness of the benefits of mediation.

According to existing law, mediation is a voluntary process. However, ministry of justice prepares some laws to make it a pre-requisite to initiate a lawsuit in some certain cases like employer-employee disputes. So, if this new law enters into force; an employee who wants to initiate a lawsuit against his employer for his unpaid salaries or annual leaves or severance pays; would be obliged to refer this case first to mediation. It will be still voluntary. I mean if they don’t reach an agreement in the mediation process, employee would still be free to initiate a lawsuit but new law will force him to try first the way of mediation.

I strongly support these efforts of the ministry because I believe that lots of lawsuits are being brought to the courthouse as a result of lack of communication and lack of empathy among disputed parties. If we can bring them together in a smooth, comfortable and relax environment and let them start a healthy communication I believe that they can find their own solution which serves both side’s interests.

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

We are always trying to understand the needs and expectations of the clients. We are thinking that accessibility is very important for the clients. To improve the accessibility, we also redirected our office line to a lawyer’s cell phone for the times outside the working hours. We also have a joint contact list of clients. So, every lawyer can access this list and reach the clients contact numbers easily.

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

Technology is almost everything for the life of a lawyer. We are using technology in all aspects of the operation and promotion of our legal practice. For example, we are using cloud storage technologies in all works which gives us a wide flexibility.

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

We are always following up legal developments especially regarding new state aids, incentives and tax advantages. If we find such an advantage, we are reporting clients to let them apply and benefiting from this. For example, Turkish government grants very serious state aid to Turkish exporter companies who wants to open an office, register trademark or participate a fair abroad. We are informing clients about this state aids and encouraging them to go abroad, to find new markets, to open new commercial channels between Turkey and other countries.

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

We are living in an information age. So, I lawyer cannot be a good lawyer just to be a lawyer. Because legal experience and knowledge is not enough to understand the dynamics of this information age.

A lawyer should be at the same time a globe-trotter, an historian, a politician, an economist, a phycologist, a sociologist and at the end a strategist. For example, in our firm, if a client asks from us a trademark registration, we are not only making a similarity search in Turkish online trademark registry, we are also checking foreign registries, we are also googling this brand which is the biggest trademark registry. Because we know that if client tomorrow decides to open new markets, Turkish trademark registration would not protect him we may need some additional registrations abroad. We are also analyzing this trademark from a designer’s point of view and if we are thinking that such a design would not serve the commercial targets of the client, we are also sharing our views with the client.

Sometimes, we are realizing that one client’s needs something and another client may answer this need. In such cases, we are trying to introduce and bring clients together to develop their businesses. So, we are considering our clients not as a way of earning money. We are considering them as our long-term business partners and friends. Long term relations are very critical and essential for us.

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