fivehundred magazine > > Interview with… Simge Şahin, partner, NSN Law

Interview with… Simge Şahin, partner, NSN Law

Tell us about your career choice and journey. What inspired you to become a lawyer? 

Frankly, I did not have in my mind to study law until the day before I submitted the preference form regarding my faculty choices. Nevertheless, I had a good exam score and to benefit from it correctly, the night before I submitted the form, I decided to choose a faculty that would offer me more than one job opportunity after my graduation. But from the very beginning of my faculty days, I decided to be a lawyer instead of a judge or prosecutor since being a lawyer provides me an independent area to make my choices for the field of law that I want to work for. And I am happy that I have chosen a field of law where I work with great happiness for over ten years.  

What are your reflections on the diversity and inclusion culture in the legal profession in Turkey? 

The number of female students in law faculties was always equal to that of males. Still, the effectiveness of female lawyers in professional life was not the same, but in the last ten years, we have seen that the females’ efficacy and roles increased. We now see that many female lawyers became partner/managing lawyers and took a role in managing departments of law firms and it provides a different perspective to the management of law firms. Speaking about my experience, I did not face discrimination based on my gender, but it may be related to my law field, IP Law, which women lawyers always dominate. 

It is not only about the gender but also about social cultures.
Turkey is a mosaic where different cultures live together and the presence of lawyers from different cultures in the field of law will increase diversity and its positive impact. I believe that Turkey should improve in the variety in social cultures in the legal profession. 

How is NSN Law progressing with its diversity agenda? 

As a Partner, I am also responsible from Human Resource and I can throw out that we attach a lot of importance to diversity during our recruitment. We recruit people to our firm from different genders, social cultures and from different law faculties. We believe that appreciating and supporting the variety of your team members is essential to improve engagement and productivity and put different perspectives to the cases. We also think that making people work with team members from different cultures expands their vision, and when lots of companies/firms follow this road, it may impact the public’s approach.  

How do you define the culture at NSN Law? 

The most important thing at NSN’s work culture is to provide happy and peaceful work place to team members.  We think that when there is peace within the team, effective teamwork follows and this is reflected in all works. We think that collective success and knowledge are important, not individual achievements and knowledge, and therefore we create a structure where everyone transfers their experience and knowledge to each other. Sharing the experience and knowledge also improves the personal success. 

In your opinion, are women lawyers treated differently by clients and colleagues compared to their male counterparts? 

No, I never feel a different attitude from the Clients or colleagues because I am a female. There are so many successful and reputed women lawyers in Turkey, and I believe they have already changed the system and provided the younger lawyers a work opportunity in equal treatment. 

 How do you see the new generation of women lawyers? 

I meet with many lawyer candidates at career days of law faculties, interns and junior lawyers at job interviews every year, and I can easily say that the new generation of female lawyers has characters who have high awareness. They know what they want in their career. I am pleased and excited to have a place with them in our firm and other law organizations. 

 If you weren’t a lawyer, what would you be? 

I never think about it but I really enjoy spending time with children. Maybe, I would be a preschool teacher.  

Which women in your life have had the most influence on your career? 

In first place, my mother has had the most influence on my career. She is a housewife and a great mother to my sisters and me, but she always advised me to have a profession and stand on my own feet. Also, my mother-in-law inspired me a lot with her over 30 years of vast experience in work life and great success to create a big company from nothing. She always supported me in my career way and instilled in me self-confident. 

What motivates you? 

My biggest motivation in business life is the self-confidence and freedom given to me by standing on my own feet and being a role model for my daughter to follow the same path and become a strong woman standing on her own feet. 

Are there any pivotal moments that shaped your career as a lawyer? 

I believe that it is a bit of a fate how I came to this place in my career because I was accepted to the first law firm that I applied to without knowing their specialized field of law. The firm specialized in IP law and when I started to work in this field, I decided that I want to be an expert in this field and tread my path. 

How do you manage your current work / life balance?  

I cannot deny that women having a child have difficulties balancing work life and personal life. Nevertheless, I am lucky that I work at a law firm that attaches importance to the balance between work life and personal life. My family is always in the first place of my life, but my firm is also my second home. I make a plan for each day and arrange my time to spend quality time with my family and make my worklist complete in due time. To be honest, between family and work life, I do not have much time to spend for myself but having a success in my job and seeing my family happy is enough for my personal peace. 

 When you look back at your career and the knowledge you’ve gained, what advice would you give to female students who are about to enter the legal industry? 

I always suggest to students at career days to become an expert in specific fields of law rather than practicing all areas of law. I believe becoming an expert in specific fields of law brings prominence to the lawyers on their career road. Also, I always suggest they make summer internships during their education to experience different areas of law, which allow them to make their choice regarding their practice field faster at the beginning of their career. Lastly, I suggest they work in the law field where they work happily because I believe that happiness in work life affects our mood. 

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