Interview with: Dr. Döne Yalçın, Managing Partner

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

Based on client feedback and our high client retention rates, we can confidently say that our teamwork and responsiveness but, coupled with our sector knowledge and ability to work seamlessly with local and international teams, are what set us apart from other Turkish law firms.

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

Restructuring is of course is a major area where clients are looking for assistance (please see the financial restructuring example below). Currently we are involved in different type of restructurings including major financial and employee restructurings. Once the Turkish government provides more stability for foreign investors we hope to see an increase in M&As and IPOs to keep our capital markets team busy. Cyber and digitization have been on the rise this year – a trend we expect to see continue. Last but not least, everything around sustainability and how it impacts every practice and sector is here to stay.

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

We made material investments in AI and LegalTech, where our lawyers and support staff worked together in multidisciplinary innovation teams to invent and build new tech products. This will help us to add value and drive efficiency savings when working for our clients.

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

Yes, as mentioned we have invested heavily in integrating automation, AI, LegalTech and knowledge management into every aspect of how we service our clients. We have launched exciting apps this year for sustainability,data breaches and the insurance sector, with more lined up for 2021.

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

As we take the time to really know our clients and their needs as well as their markets and sectors, we are able to add value to our clients. A recent example of how clients require our deep involvement in the commercial aspects of transactions to allow us to add value and assist them in achieving mutually satisfactory arrangements for all parties is this 2020 restructuring deal. The deal was turned around in a month and satisfying from both the lenders’ and borrowers’ perspectives, crucial in the type of deal and sector.

The YBK banking team, led by myself and Alaz Eker Ündar, provided assistance to a consortium of 13 banks, with DenizBank as lead, with respect to a highly sensitive and comprehensive financial restructuring arrangement for the existing financial indebtedness of a leading Turkish group engaged in construction activities, and the granting of additional financing as part of the restructuring process. Compared to other similar transactions in the market, which have proven to be highly time-consuming, the deal was signed and closed within a month due to the statutory deadlines imposed by the applicable legislation.

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

The trusted advisor role is key – get to know your clients, what drives them, what do heads of legal need to know and do in order to convince their boards of the appropriate course of action. Being strategic thinkers on behalf of our clients and showing them what is ahead in their sector is certainly vital for a lawyer. However; it has to go beyond just legal advice. I anticipate that in the next few years my team will perfect this holistic style of legal services provision, using the best available technology and resources, to give the client the comfort that we are in this together and we are future facing.