Interview with: Nedim Korhan Şengün, M.A. , Founding Partner

Sengün & Partners Attorney Partnership | View firm profile

Founding Partner Nedim Korhan Şengün explains Şengün & Partners’ unique approach towards its clients and rules of laws)

N. Korhan Şengün Career Timeline:

  • Representing a leading German Insurance Broker during its important and complex negotiations,
  • Providing legal consultancy to one of the biggest pizza franchises in Turkey in his early career,
  • Consulting one of the major investment funds in Turkey,
  • Acquisition, partial demerger and formation of holding structure of a leading publicly held company, which was one of the biggest acquisition at the time,
  • Leading major Collective Labor Agreement negotiations within the country,
  • Consulting the biggest logistic company in the world besides carrying out its projects
  • Representing and consulting media group of major radio broadcasting companies in Turkey

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

Aiming to work for the benefit of the clients, some aspects remain the same while others change. What doesn’t change is, how we provide support to our clients and our style, following up on new legislations, even, following up on legislations that are yet to be in effect, instantly being up to date with all processes and its reasons.

It’s the way we provide in debt analysis. Broadly speaking, while providing clear answers to questions raised by our clients, our lawyers also analyse the underlying legal needs of the questions. The “main” change is that we allocate the most capable and best teams lead by a partner while utilizing current technology.

What does innovation mean to you and how can firms be better at it?

Innovation is a term that is used frequently but is rarely realized. The definition of this term has developed over time, but we have adopted the definition in the Oslo Manual. Simply, it’s the implementation of new organizational methods within your work. Since the year 1990 when our office was founded, before this term had appeared, we have always strived to continuously improve our organization. Companies should always pay attention to their internal structures and changes in the world, meanwhile they should internalize developments without rushing.

What are the biggest challenges facing firms in the Turkish legal market?

The fallout from financial crises due to global developments. Because a global financial crisis affects the legal systems of countries. Also, the unethical competition without principle is not only valid for Turkey but for the World. Another point to consider is the loss in confidence towards the legal systems which is not only a national problem but an international one.

How does your firm handle technology and data security?

While technology eases and expedites the process, our first aim is still to protect confidentiality of our clients. Confidentiality is a sensitive area for both our clients and our Firm. Therefore, we are aware that technology may lead to exposures to cyber-attacks and that data may suddenly disappear or fall into wrong hands. Physical back-up, cloud protection, encrypted emailing and cyber security are essential to the Firm. For this purpose, we are always using products of cloud and cyber security software developers who are the pioneer technology companies in the world. Lately, we have taken a lot of steps to further modify our entire technological infrastructure to make it in line with latest developments. We acknowledge the technological needs of our clients and act based on a principle of confidentiality to satisfy such needs, including teleconferences and in all other platforms we use.

What is your firm’s approach to competition? How do local firms compete with those with an international law firm affiliation?

Competition is something that is unavoidable for Law Firms. Competition is of course positive, when it provides reason to view internal and external developments. We are a law firm that realizes this view. As a result, we believe it’s one of the main dynamics leading to developments and improvements. I believe that, being solely a local firm in a globalizing world is not the correct way. But to provide an answer to the question in the strict sense; after an investment is made, and the investor has started to operate in Turkey, the question should be paraphrased. The question of “How can international law firms with your words “compete” with local law firms?” would be the appropriate one. As investors coming to Turkey are leaning towards law firms who best understand the provisions of the legal system applied in Turkey. In this case, the difference between an local and international law firm becomes unimportant. Because the most important issue here is to understand the provisions and legislation of Turkish Law. The equation is here.

What do you do differently from other Turkish firms?

We believe that anything not based on philosophy cannot survive. Law is not only a compilation of rules; it is a living establishment that is affected by socio-economic and political developments. The logic of dealing with current global and local law is to take these developments into consideration. It has been observed that clients, when approached with this attitude, are enlightened to the widest extent and are able to gain an extensive perspective on the settlement of the legal issue.

We believe that it is vital for our attorneys to be specialized in their respective field through further development and training. Both in our country and across the world, as in everything else, law also undergoes continuous changes. We argue that each field of law constitutes an integral part within the changing world, thus, we emphasize that all our attorneys acquire knowledge and experience in other areas of law in addition to their current field of specialization.

Finally, we believe that each country has its own distinct culture, investment environment and different human relations. It would be illogical to assume local factors will not affect the application of law. Therefore, we are well aware of the social and political nature of our country and always aim to take actions accordingly in order to provide tailor made solutions to our clients in practice of law.

What have you found is the best way to recruit and retain talent?

It is difficult to separate people from their generation, simply, while recruiting it is important to know which generation they belong to as their expectations change accordingly. To recruit and to retain talent the methods is to remain a successful office, give a sense of feeling that if they remain they will have a future while showing that the firm provides a working area that is humane and retains the traditions of the legal world and to provide an understanding is what we believe is important. I also believe that, while being innovative it is important to take precedent from historic traditions. To create a lasting team, it is important to provide a work area that is not only based on earning money but is based on harmony.

What should young lawyers know about working in Turkey compared to other jurisdictions?

Young lawyers should know this principle, which is old, unchanging and will probably never change, and most importantly want to understand and implement this principle which is; WORKING HARD. There is no other way to succeed. Also, we should consider being patient.

Since becoming founding partner, what’s surprised you most about running a firm?

I was most surprised with the sense of work of the new generation from time to time. Our generation had the notion of working hard in order to become successful; the struggle of new generations in understanding this notion has surprised me. In our contemporary lives, especially for lawyers working in active firms, it has always been this way. They should know that; the working life and private life always intersects and in order to be a balance there needs to be good work life.

How has your role/involvement in client-facing work changed since becoming founding partner?

It has decreased over time; this has been a principle of our firm. Working face-to-face with clients is not a privilege nor should it be in the future. For the development of each lawyer, client facing work plays an important role. We prefer that all our lawyers, who are ready in ways of knowledge and conduct, to directly interact with our clients. But in cases of office polices or if it’s crucial for the workflow, I find it important to attend or conduct face-to-face meetings with clients.

What advice would you give to the next generation of partners ready to rise in the ranks?

For the next generation of partner ready to rise in ranks; I advise them to never to set-aside being a lawyer, always to continuously broaden their vision and management skills. They should find ways to overcome all obstacles and never become demoralized.