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Feridun Ä°zgi, Founding Partner

Founding Partner M. Feridun Ä°zgi explains how the firm is providing all kinds of legal services to its multinational clientele operating in highly regulated sectors such as energy, life sciences, direct selling and insurance, and satisfy their ever-changing legal needs with its business-minded approach.

What do you see as the main points that differentiate Fırat İzgi from your competitors?

Fırat-İzgi was established in 2013 by two seasoned professionals, with extensive experience in law practice. Our industry-oriented expertise on energy, life-sciences and direct-selling industries helped us quickly earn a reputation as one of the top law firms in Turkey in our practice areas. Becoming our clients’ accessible partner for their complex legal needs by adopting client-focused services principle has been an essential goal for us since the very first day of establishment of Fırat-İzgi. Our most prominent principle is to deliver timely and elaborate services to our clients. We believe that these principles provide great value to our clients’ processes and are easily distinguished by the clients. The most distinguishing feature of our firm is our approach to the work. We have created a system to optimize task allocation by prioritizing quality.

We acknowledge the importance of transparency, sincerity and accountability in commercial life while providing services and establishing relationships with our clients. Fair and equal approach to all our clients is an integral part of our approach. We are aware that our equal treatment principle is key to establish and sustain long term relationships with our clients. We are a team that believes in the rule of law, and one that closely follows global trends and tendencies. We acknowledge that the correct application of anti-corruption practices is an indispensable element enabling sustainable trade. We prioritize assisting our clients in establishing and following accurate and required legal protection mechanisms by considering their sensitivity with respect to internal compliance, as well as compliance with legislation.

In light of the necessity to implement an anti-corruption culture, we work as active members of prominent national and international communities. We acknowledge the significance of cost management and service efficiency for establishing sustainable relationships with our clients.

Now, just 6 years after our establishment, we are an internationally recognized law firm in Turkey due to our above-mentioned principles and our approach towards our clients. We are also a frequent publisher in a wide variety of internationally recognized periodicals and journals.

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

Our growing practices are M&A, IT & Data Protection, Competition & Regulatory and compliance and insurance law. The driving reasons for the growth of M&A practice are the growing demand from our clientele and the upward M&A trend in the Turkish energy industry arising from consolidation of energy projects and existing facilities. Spearheaded by my long-term industry experience from in-house work within a leading Turkish energy company, our Corporate and M&A team is advising national and multinational clients both domestically and across borders on energy-specific M&A, regulatory, environmental and litigation matters regarding large-scale infrastructure projects, including renewable (wind, solar, geothermal, biomass) and conventional (natural gas, coal) power generation facilities, with our significant capabilities in handling governmental affairs of the deals.

Our competition practice has significantly grown over the past year. One of the many driving reasons behind this success is our world-renowned expertise in government investigations. With our extensive experience in regulated markets we provide legal counselling to our clientele on a wide variety of matters from merger control clearances and government investigations to in-company trainings. We provide our clients, some of which are among the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies with in-company trainings regarding Turkish Competition Law. It goes without saying that we are also a preferred law firm for clients from other industries such as FMCG and direct selling. Over the past months, our firm advised its multinational clients regarding the competition aspects of their global agreements. Our main difference from other law firms in Turkey practicing competition law is our expertise in our core industries. With our deep-rooted knowledge regarding the sectoral dynamics of our core industries, we provide our clients with industry specific competition law perspective, which is crucial for companies operating in these highly regulated, challenging and ever-changing industries.

Another practice area which I see growing in the next 12 months is IT & Data Protection. The main reason behind this growth is the enactment of the Turkish Data Protection Law, namely KVKK. Over the past year we have continuously conducted data protection compliance projects with almost every one of our clients from the Life Sciences and direct selling industry thanks to our extensive experience and academic knowledge on data protection and privacy, going back before the newly enacted KVKK, equip us with the understanding to provide tailored solutions for our clients in terms of legal protection and remedies. We have been providing legal consultancy to many multinational pharmaceutical and medical device companies in terms of patient data privacy, which is of paramount importance for the Life Sciences industry, and we have been assisting our clients in their compliance with legislation including but not limited to R&D and clinical trial activities. We frequently deal with yet unanswered and complex data privacy and protection matters, sometimes not regulated by the developing data protection legislation of Turkey, and such issues require deep legal evaluation and specific industry. Considering the rising demand of our clients for our industry specific data privacy and data protection expertise, it appears that this area will increasingly continue to its growth.

Representing one of the leading insurance companies in Turkey, we have added another regulated sector to our field of activities and expanded our experience in regulated sectors with the insurance industry. Our team in this field has made a significant progress in making the insurance industry our fourth sectoral expertise in addition to the energy, life sciences and direct selling industries, by providing valuable services thanks to their expertise. In the next 12 months, we expect to meet the regulatory, data privacy and litigation needs of our clients in this field.

Renewable energy, which is of great importance from an environmental perspective, as well as in terms of supply security and reduction of fossil fuel dependence, will certainly continue to grow within the forthcoming years. Turkey has a very high potential in terms of wind and solar energy and there is a highly stable political commitment to benefit from this potential and to develop and produce renewable energy technologies in Turkey. We are of the opinion that investments and the support towards investors in this area will continue in Turkey even though supporting methods and mechanisms vary. Consequentially, we believe renewable energy will continue to be at the heart of the Turkish energy sector, as it were in previous years. In the next 12 months, we will continue to provide our clients with our extensive experience in the renewable energy sector by increasing our work load in this field.

Lastly, As Fırat-İzgi, we have broad experience in FIDIC and EPC contracts used in the investment processes within energy sector. In line with that, we foresee an increasement in long-term electricity trade contracts, EFET contracts and conflicts arising therefrom in the energy sector.

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

We have set up a team in charge of following up and reviewing all changes to major laws and relevant regulations for the purposes of keeping our knowledge up to date. We are creating tailored solutions and customized systems for every single one of our clients. We are identifying their legal needs and proactively take necessary actions. We do not send mass mailings in order to regularly promote our firm, instead, we are sending our clients specific and customized client alerts that they actually benefit from.

Another important method we use to benefit our clients is that we work in teams. We form teams to ensure the close monitoring and the highest level of efficiency in line with the needs of the clients. In this way, clients receive rapid response and projects are closely followed-up. Thanks to the technological tools that we use, we secure perfect follow-up and coordination of the team.

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

In Fırat-İzgi we have designed a full-service law firm which provides round-the-clock legal consultancy to our multinational clientele. Hence, we have created a vibrant workspace surrounded with all available technological tools for our lawyers in order for them to work more efficiently, with a view to provide the best service to our clients. We are constantly developing new ways to work smarter and ensure that technology works for us. We are using a variety of integrated software for time management and internal communication along with interaction with clients. We are using a special software to record and monitor performed tasks and manage our workflow. As a young and dynamic law firm, we constantly continue to invest in our IT infrastructure. We are not a closed-minded law firm which insists on being old fashioned. Our motto is Purpose over Profit, Networks over Hierarchies, Empowering over Controlling.

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

We often see that clients that become blunt during their work-flow. We provide our clients with a new perspective and a fresh opinion thanks to our transferable knowledge coming from our solid background in our core industries. A very significant example of the value we add to our clients’ businesses is that in almost every project we undertake in the energy sector, we offer solutions to our client and even to counterparties at points where the negotiations are blocked. By virtue of this approach, it is often possible to find remedies that fully satisfy the concerns of the all parties to the relationship. Recently, we have experienced examples of this during the negotiation process of a share transfer. Of course, recognizing and understanding key interests at this point requires deep sector knowledge. Our corporate and M&A team also supports our clients with their entrance to Turkish market by introducing them to local requirements, enabling them to proceed smoothly.

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

All of our clients are looking for stability and strategic direction from us. We think that law practice is not only telling clients what to do or not to do, but also how to do it. We aim to increase our clients’ legal awareness by proactive, business-minded, result oriented, close follow up. We occupy ourselves with our clients’ problems.

One of the most challenging aspects for the law firms is being up to date in this emerging market and preserving a competitive edge in order to develop our strategic direction in the long term. We are very proud to have grown as we have over the last six years and to have received recognition for our work for our clients to date. In the next three years’ time we expect an exponential growth for our firm while maintaining our position as a well-established and reputable law firm that renders excellent services to its clients.

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