Interview with: Pelin Baysal, Founding Partner

Baysal & Demir | View firm profile

Pelin Baysal, a founding partner of Baysal & Demir, explains the motivation in setting up Baysal & Demir and what sets them apart from other law firms in the market.

What do you see as the main points that differentiate Baysal & Demir from your competitors?

Having worked for international clients for long years, we believe that what international clients are most interested in was something different from what they are getting from big law firms.

In big law firms, each task is generally assigned to big legal teams. The partner involvement in these tasks is usually limited to a final review. And each associate working on the task is only seeing a portion of it, preventing them from understanding the whole picture.

What sets us apart at Baysal & Demir is dedicated small legal teams with close partner involvement at all stages. Our partners are not final reviewers. They have substantial, direct and continuous involvement at all stages of each project and/or dispute handled by the firm. Each of our associates grasps the entirety of the project/dispute they are involved in. They have a strong understanding of the project/dispute and the clients’ objectives.

Besides, the clients are part of our teams. They are embedded in all stages of the process and work closely with our legal team. This close collaboration ensures that the communication lines are open, and there is transparency on our deliverables. More, this close cooperation is the key to our legal team’s distinctiveness on communicating sophisticated technical matters effectively and clearly.

We believe that international clients establish their relationships with individual lawyers, not law firm brands. With a combination of academic and business approach, Baysal & Demir provides its clients with a bespoke service, which they have been looking for.

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

We believe that this question can be better explained for each main areas separately.

Dispute resolution: As expected, in 2021, COVID-19 has been the primary factor for emerging disputes. The continuing impact of COVID-19 or potential fallout from the pandemic has the potential to increase the dispute activity even more in a myriad of areas. In 2021, we believe that the disputes will be more challenging for the companies since the increased number of disputes might be compounded by the respondent companies’ budged and liquidation concerns. Having said that, it is also important not to lose sight of newly emerging dispute areas by prioritising COVID-19 related disputes. We also believe that disputes related to cybersecurity, data protection, antitrust, and discrimination will be emerging dispute areas in 2021.

Insurance & Reinsurance: COVID-19 did not only emerge as a health crisis, but also disrupted the supply chains and conventional methods of doing business. The government, under the recently announced economic program, seems to be committed to foster credit insurance for every size of enterprises to support export activities. This relatively new insurance product is also expected to ensure sustainability in cash flows in the local market. Yet, we are concerned that 2021 will be the year to deeply feel the impacts of the outbreak which would come in view as insurance claims under delay-in-start up and business interruption coverages. Besides, we should be ready for unprecedented disputes in the financial sector and commodity markets as we saw in 2020 the collapse of crude oil prices below zero for the first time in history due to paralyzed global economy. The collapse was felt everywhere, including Turkey, causing the local investment banks and intermediaries to seek insurance coverage for their direct losses and liabilities towards investing customers.

Corporate: Due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic we expect that the companies may be involved in dividend distribution disputes. The companies will have to create strategies regarding the usage of the reserve funds. Similarly, they would also have to meet concerns arising out of capital loss and over-indebtedness, which could be fought through using the legal devices like capital decreases, conditional capital increases and capital increases through settlements.

Competition & Antitrust: 2021 could be the year in which the SMEs would have to face public and private antitrust enforcement. Due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic they could be involved in price cartels. In that sense 2021 could also be the year, in which we would be discussing the justification reasons for cartels like state of emergency.

Employment: We expect remote work will become main stream work form and there will be regulatory changes as to the same. Therefore employment contracts and workplace internal regulations will be adopted accordingly. Again due to the increase in number of employees working remotely, we expect that the volume of data subject to processing will increase too. This will require additional legal and administrative regulations on data privacy and the workplaces will have to adopt themselves to these changes rapidly. Similarly, remote work caused the working time became vague. The employers will have to create new practice to record the working time in order to prevent future disputes. Remote work will also create discrimination based disputes. Just like other countries, platform work gained steam in Turkey. Disputes arising from employment status of platform workers are expected to increase rapidly. In Turkey, termination ban is still applicable. There are serious problems among the employers, employees and the social security institution. We also expect mass layoff following the termination ban. Finally, due to Covid-19, risk assessments as to the occupational health and safety should be renewed and workplace organizations should be restructured considering the sterilization and disinfection of the workplaces. Yet, we started to see the increasing number of the court cases against the employers arguing that Covid-19 is an occupational accident and the employers failed to take the necessary measures.

Product safety and liability: The law concerning product safety and liability is newly enacted and entered into force as of 12.03.2021 (The Law no. 7223 on Product Safety and Technical Regulations). The law aims to enhance harmonization with the EU standards on general product safety and liability for defective products; but does not significantly deviate from the requirements of the former law. Based on the law no 7223, new regulations and by-laws are expected to be released by the Presidency and relevant Ministries this year. Until then, the secondary law published in the former law’s term remain to be effective, to the extent they do not go against the law no. 7223.

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

At Baysal & Demir, we seek to build a flexible environment that allows us to exceed our clients’ expectations. We believe that success comes from giving talented and motivated lawyers space to perform their work, not from thick manuals or excessive hours. Baysal & Demir is committed to creating an environment that attracts and retains a diverse array of talented attorneys.

We add value to our clients by investing in our lawyers. Our partners committed to contributing to the career progress of each associate. This is how we ensure that each individual member of our legal team is always insightful, tenacious and courteous, three pillars that Baysal & Demir is based on. We are resourceful to achieve clarity and predictability for our clients.

In addition, unlike many law firms in Turkey, we are the true combination of a legally strong and business-oriented law firm. Many law firms in Turkey either consist mainly of academicians or practitioners. At Baysal & Demir, however, lawyers not only have a very strong academic background but also are recognised practitioners in their areas.

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

Technology has been changing the world, and the practice of law also gets its share. Internationally, there is an emerging trend for technology to address issues in how law firms run and manage their practice.

To begin with, technology offers ease of communication. Normally, we would have quarterly in-person meetings with our clients. But these meetings were costly as they involve expenses for flight tickets, hotels etc. Currently, we have these meetings online twice a month instead of doing them quarterly and in person. This increases the client’s involvement in our projects/cases and helps the clients save substantial costs.

In addition, at Baysal & Demir, we also use artificial intelligence. By using software programs and mobile applications, we always ensure that we are efficient and effective in many areas such as case management and document organisation, billing, preparation of our briefs, hearing organisations.

In order to remain at the cutting edge of legal practice, Baysal & Demir commits to identifying and implementing innovation as an essential part of what we do.

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

Whilst it is hard to give an example due to confidentiality concerns, we regularly help our clients to overcome their problems arising from cultural differences. International transactions often involve parties from different countries and cultures. These cultures generally have different views on how to conduct business relationships and how to resolve their disputes. These differences generally play a part in not reaching a successful outcome. In situations where these cultural differences can create a problem between parties or prevent amicable resolution, we play a role in eliminating them. We bring different perspectives to the bargaining table and increase the likelihood of exploring and discovering integrative, or value-creating, solutions.

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

There is an increasing necessity to create stability within the workplace and flexibility in where/how services can be offered. We also believe that the clients benefit from the strategic direction of their law firms. Only with a well-calibrated strategy, the clients can have clarity and predictability.

At Baysal & Demir, we are committed to developing a reputation for providing a rigorous and sophisticated approach to each task we handle. In three years’ time, we plan to expand our team and expertise to provide services for more clients. But when expanding our team, we will ensure that our values and the quality of our work will not deteriorate. Baysal & Demir was established by lawyers who are excited about a distinctive way of practising law and aims to bring in lawyers aspiring for the same ambition.