fivehundred magazine > > Interview with… Şeyma İnal, Inal Law Office

Interview with… Şeyma İnal, Inal Law Office

What was it that made you want to become a lawyer?

Being born into a family with a legal background, one of the biggest reasons that inspired me to become a lawyer is my grandfather who was one of the first public prosecutors of the Turkish Republic following its establishment. Then, he became one of the first lawyers admitted to the Kayseri Bar. There were other members of the family who were lawyers, judges and prosecutors and all of them inspired me to choose the profession of law. However, this was not the only issue which inspired me to choose this profession. Indeed, I deeply believe that every person should take his/her personal characteristics into consideration while choosing his/her professional to be able to exercise such profession as a hobby as well. Towards the end of high school, I started to observe that I had all the characteristics such as dedication, the speaking skills, the ability of persuasion, the motivation and desire to make researches, etc. “necessary” to be a good lawyer, the total of which made me to believe in myself together with the support and encouragement of my family, especially and foremost, my father.

In your forty years as a practicing lawyer, what barriers have you encountered during your career growth and as a female leader in the Turkish legal market?

At the beginning of my career, I faced certain difficulties due to practicing in a field which was, especially at the time, inherently male-dominant. Women tend to not be taken seriously as lawyers but this also triggered me in a good way and led me to develop my skills; getting to learn and understand law better and more, becoming a specialist, trying to be the best prepared lawyer whether in a courtroom or a meeting which in turn led me to reach a reputable place in the lawyers’ society sooner, by way of proving my knowledge and ambition. I strongly believe that what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger and I accepted all these “barriers” as a challenge in my career.

 Since leading your own law firm in 1993, what accomplishments at Inal Law Office are you the proudest of?

I am proud of having worked with numerous young colleagues and to have witnessed their achievement in becoming experienced and valuable lawyers during their career at our office. I am also happy to have developed long-term and trustworthy relations with our clients with most of whom I have been working over decades. In addition to all these, the spiritual and pecuniary satisfactions procured by this profession are very high. But, frankly speaking, the best achievement I have had in this profession has been and still continues to be the exercising of a profession that I love practicing. In brief, Inal Law

Office is not only a workplace, but a real hobby place for me and my colleagues, which constitutes the main hallmark of Inal Law Office.

As an inductee into The Legal 500 Hall of Fame, you continue to receive deserved recognition as a leading lawyer across the national and international stage. What has been the key to your success after all these years?

The key to our success is discipline and dedication we show for each matter be it big or small. Whether it is a simple company establishment for a start-up or a complex M&A transaction of a multinational corporate, we embrace the same attitude and provide the same level of service for each and every client. This especially is very important while carrying out your legal tasks related to large and well-known companies, either local or international. As another factor, if I may deem myself “successful” in this profession, there is a huge effort behind the scene and most of the success belongs to my team & colleagues.

How would you define the culture at Inal Law Office?

Our culture is based on discipline, research, diligence, punctuality and treating each and every file as the most important file of the office and treating each and every client as our most important client. We also attach great importance to strict confidentiality and pay utmost diligence to our team’s developing their knowledge through continuous research of the sector, as law is a living mechanism knowledge of which should always be kept updated.

In addition to the recruitment drive your firm has with diverse lawyers, does Inal Law Office get involved in other diversity-related activities?

Since we do not make any discrimination among people of any background, we have never specifically thought of this in our office. We are welcoming everyone who has diligence, ambition, knowledge and fit for the tasks in our office. Every colleague is our most valuable asset and we cannot accept any discrimination in this respect.

With clients valuing diversity in their external law firms, how do we get more women into leadership roles in law firms?

Luckily, Turkey is currently one of the rare countries giving opportunity to women in leadership and we are proud of this. I strongly believe discrimination between genders is getting thinner by the day and, I am happy to see fellow women lawyers acting as partners, founders or co-founders and in other pivotal posts in which once was a predominantly male profession. I would like to congratulate each and every female lawyer who dedicates herself for her work.

Do you see any challenges for women within the legal industry in Turkey? And what would they be?

I personally do not see any specific challenge which women would face but men would not encounter in the legal industry in Turkey. Sometimes it is difficult to change the culture of a society in one day and it requires decades but I believe Turkey is one of the countries that the young female generation really know what they want and work hard to achieve what they want.

How do you manage a work-life balance?

To be honest, one of the most difficult issues of this profession is to achieve a work-life balance since this profession requires uninterrupted engagement, especially for lawyers working on an international scale considering the time zone differences. However, the truth is that success can only be achieved by maintaining a healthy work-life balance and being able to say no to work issues when it is necessary. This is why, we, at Inal Law Office, want our colleagues to enjoy their personal time without having to think about work to the extent possible. Nonetheless, they all are aware that they are working for an international law firm and especially our colleagues in our shipping department since shipping law is not different than working in an ER. For this purpose, we have developed different tailor-made solutions by means of which we successfully provide ourselves a work-life balance.

Which women have inspired you the most?

I have been inspired by a number of strong, powerful and spirited women so just to name one would be unfair to the others. That being said, I am overwhelmed with and admire women who has managed to stand on their own ground and progress into a senior leadership role in their profession.

What has been your greatest achievement, in a professional and personal capacity?

Having started working at two renowned lawyers’ office at the age of 21 was a great opportunity for me to see and experience first-hand what it requires to be both a successful lawyer while also running and leading a group of people in a law firm towards a common goal which, eventually, led me to found my own law firm at a young age and to gain a reputable name in the legal world. Honestly, my achievements are not limited with my profession and the biggest achievement is to develop myself personally in every aspect of life; having hobbies and enjoying life, which I hope I never lose.

What is the one piece of advice that you would give to a young woman at the start of her law career and has aspirations to become a partner one day?

I am very happy to see the younger generation of women lawyers with more self-esteem and faith in their own abilities. My advice to my young colleagues would be to work really hard, to continuously improve themselves and always keep themselves up to date with the developments in the legal industry and technology and certainly learn as many foreign languages as possible to follow up the sector on an international scale.

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