Interview with: Zihni Gonen, Founder, Managing Partner 

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Managing Partner Mr. Zihni Gonen explains how the firm is adapting to clients’ changing needs. 

What do you see as the main points that differentiate Gonen Law Office from your competitors?

Gonen Law Office is a leading Turkish law firm providing the best legal advice and legal service to the clients operating both in Turkey and internationally with offices located in Ankara, Istanbul and London. As a trustworthy law firm having expertise in various sectors such as dispute resolution, construction, energy, general corporate law, international trade, finance and food we have been working on local and international transactions ever since our foundation back in 2006.

As Gonen Law Office, we are dedicated to provide our clients with cost effective and pragmatic solutions since our core principles include teamwork within the office, legal excellence and integrity along with dedication to our clients. We support individuals and businesses in resolving conflict, safeguarding their futures and maximising opportunities. Our wide range of expertise means that we can provide support for our clients in all areas of their business. Our commitment to maintaining an inclusive and supportive workplace allows us to recruit talented lawyers and support staff, many of whom – along with the firm – are independently recognised as leaders in their fields.

In short, we believe that teamwork and responsiveness coupled with our excellent ability to grasp the commercial objectives of our client and ability to work seamlessly with local and international teams, are what sets us apart from many other Turkish law firms.

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

The one and only practice that will not ever strop growing is certainly dispute resolution covering both domestic litigation and national & international arbitration. In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, economy has certainly been affected negatively and during times of economic downturn, litigation becomes inevitably and increasingly popular; in tough times, individuals and organizations are more likely to resort to the legal system to recoup financial losses and it is also likely to see the local and international companies having an increasing need of support in the field of dispute resolution area in the next 12 months. As Gonen Law Office, we handle not only local litigation but also on some of the most complex, high-value and strategically important international commercial and investment arbitrations before major arbitration centres, such as ICC, LCIA, LMAA or ICSID.

In addition, partly due to currency de valuation for the benefit of hard currencies, we believe once the pandemic comes to end M&A transaction will be on the rise. Due to the undebatable result of liquidity shortage, restructuring will be inevitable. In order for the companies to have new coping mechanisms. We are well prepared for additional work in this area with our effective commercial, corporate and M&A team.

Finally, we believe that one of our core practices construction and projects will be growing in the next 12 months on which we are eager to provide excellent consultancy services to our clients.

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

Our main change is having branch offices located in Ankara, Istanbul and London and having exclusive cooperation agreements with best law firms some of our major practice places, such as China, Russia and Gulf region, Consequently, we have more sustainable relations with domestic and international companies. As Gonen Law Office, we are fully aware that each practice area must be met with equal focus and expertise. With varying kinds of work comes a broader range of experience. As a full-service law firm with unique expertise in 11 different fields of law and three offices located in the centre of busines, Gonen Law Office delivers timely, efficient and innovative solutions to the clients. Gonen Law Office also works in professional association with some of the world’s leading international law firms and practitioners with the help of its solid presence in Europe, Africa, Gulf and CIS region.

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

We understand that the conventional approach does not provide a suitable or productive resolution for clients and a change of point of view is required for the future of legal market. While the legal industry is based on traditions heavily, we believe innovation is the key of finding better solutions to meet client demands. We have embraced the benefits of technology during the Covid-19 Pandemic and our lawyers have regularly used technology in a clever way to get feedback from our clients and assist them through every stage. With the undeniable help of technology, we are in contact with our clients 24/7. All of our members have their own portfolio of clients which makes them have access to our legal advice at any time they need.

Also, within last couple of years, we made significant investments in LegalTech, where our lawyers and support staff worked together in multidisciplinary innovation teams to invent and build new tech products which in return adds value and drive efficiency for the benefit of our client and partners.

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

Gonen Law Office provides high value-added legal services to clients, at all time. We are a one-stop solution provider for the clients’ legal matters by leveraging our full-service and multidisciplinary advantage to quickly grasp the essence of every clients’ commercial objectives and integrate cross-practice and cross-disciplinary perspectives and assessments into the advice we provide to them, from pre-transaction phase to dispute resolution phase.

A good example of our high-value added legal services is our recent engagement with a multinational corporation in textile sector where, in addition to providing traditional legal and regulatory advice, we also delivered policy, stakeholder engagement and lobbying risk assessment to the client, successfully assisting the client to identify the relevant legal, regulatory and political risks in the proposed transaction, playing significant role on their multi-million dollars saving in the completion of their transaction, compare to their original projections.

Although it is not possible to summarize all of our complex and high value practices in different areas of law, we would like to give some examples as below:

  •  Gonen Law Office represented its clients in high value commercial and investment arbitration before ICC, LMAA, LCIA and ICSID.
  • Partners of Gonen Law Office participated in domestic arbitration cases as arbitrator.
  • Gonen Law Office represented its multinational clients before the regulatory bodies and local courts.
  • Gonen Law Office participated in negotiating and drawing several multimillion dollar’s value EPC contracts for its multinational clients.
  • Gonen Law Office participated in negotiating, drawing several license agreements on patents, textile, energy and also carried out litigation during the process.
  • Gonen Law Office provided legal services and consultancy for project finance valued more than circa ten billion dollars in total.
  • Gonen Law Office provide entire one of the biggest investments in west Africa covering EPC, project finance and general advisory services having project value of circa 350 million EUR.
  • Last but not the least, Gonen Law Office provided legal services and consultancy for several M&A and commercial transactions for international clients.

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

Stability and strategic direction are two elements that clients seek for and our ability to enjoy stability, longevity and strategic consultancy services is intensified with our work principles. As Gonen Law Office we have awareness in the law firm industry and understand the challenges ahead. This awareness is displayed by our place in the industry and the professional service that we provide. External and internal communication is a part of our firm’s focus along with our planning and effective leadership.

Over the next few years our goal is to proceed to our growth along with our national and international clients and also to expand our practice areas while continuing with our work with the highest standard of integrity and professionalism.