Given Turkey’s recent economic problems including the currency crash and inflation together with continued problems created by the Covid-19 pandemic, how is this affecting your firm?
As is obvious, the world can be faced at any time with unexpected situations such as a pandemic, economic crisis, economic war, and even an actual war. The effects of those situations are worldwide since communications, trade, the economy itself, and every other thing today has become global. On the other hand, it is undeniable that we, as human beings, must move forward in order to save our world and in so doing save our own lives. This rightfully may be called our main purpose.
We, as the Işıkal Law Office, have studied how to get out of this situation in the best way. Our studies show that the most promising alternative solutions to this complex global crisis are to reverse the growing carbon emissions caused by a growing population and continued reliance on fossil fuels, by supporting the renewable energy sector, and by keeping and even strengthening global communications and the economic interactions – and doing all this in an amicable way. So, this is why the Işıkal Law Office focuses our experience and determination on the renewable energy sector, immigration and citizenship, international litigation and arbitration, and the protection of personal data. All of these support our main purpose to use the law to help build a better world.
To be more precise about the energy sector (which is also a main client sector for our office), Turkey has quite a big potential for renewable energy, not just within its own borders but also to support its development in neighbouring countries. Turkey’s location in the world, considering its latitudes and longitudes, its geographical conditions, and its governmental supports and incentives are foundations upon which the country is building its renewable energy capabilities.
At this point we want to mention one more critical thing about the energy companies in Turkey. Unfortunately, as it is well known currently, there is a huge inflation in Turkey, and Turkish currency is quite cheap for foreign investors. Even in those circumstances, investments in energy companies are affordable for foreigners, and, despite the inflationary pressures, those companies still have good financial statements and potential high profit returns, just as they were between 2002 and 2006.
Since Turkey is a huge and dynamic market for investment in the renewable energy sector, the Işıkal Law Office has likewise invested in training its employees about the renewable energy sector, especially in solar energy. In addition to that training initiative, we have already completed very large and important M&A transactions in that sector, giving us the practical experience that is one of the best and most reliable guides.
So, we are proud to say that the Işıkal Law Office is ready for the potential future investments in the renewable energy sector (especially solar), and the related needs for legal services in immigration and citizenship, international litigation and arbitration, and the protection of personal data.
What adjustments have you made in the current climate – fees, staffing levels etc?
We have switched to the remote working model, and I can say that we have adapted to this model very well. We have improved our technical infrastructure and started to create and use software programs that are unique to our office. We are now even more efficient than before in accounting, following-up expense and advance payments, and our business processes.
With our remote working model and the use of our unique software programs, we have seen the quality of our work and the performance and productivity of our employees increase significantly. This has added value for the future of our office and our service delivery capabilities for our clients.
We also have tried to keep our fees as competitive as possible to strengthen our relations with clients and continue to provide the good quality service to them even in bad times.
How can you and your clients mitigate the risks?
We see our clients take steps to protect their existing potentials rather than making new and possibly unfamiliar investments. Our clients are understandably reluctant to make major steps forward during worldwide ambiguous crises like a pandemic. It is important, therefore, that we help our clients remain aware that this pandemic is just temporary, and when this period is over, everything will get better in terms of the potential and the dynamism of Turkey. By having such faith that good times are waiting ahead of us, our clients can undertake actions and investments to enrich human resources and also their own potentials.
What practice areas are busy, ie, the biggest areas for your firm, and why?
As well as the energy sector – especially renewable solar energy investments but also including biomass energy – our busiest and most important areas are immigration and citizenship, national and international litigation and arbitration, and personal data protection. We also are active in commercial real estate (shopping malls, trade centres, offices etc) and related issues such as construction, rent, and international litigation and arbitration. Last but not least, M&A projects are at the top of, and cut across, all those practice areas.
What changes do you expect once the effects of the economic challenges and the pandemic have passed?
We think some things like remote working will be permanent. In particular, we believe that the way of doing business is changing and the productivity of remote working has increased in a way that we could not have expected and, therefore, underestimated before the pandemic.
Although we expect that these operating improvements will continue, we think that with the improvement of economic conditions, there will be a positive atmosphere again in potential markets and new investments will occur, and these opportunities will attract the interest of foreign investors.
How is your firm positioning for an anticipated resurgence in activity within the region?
Istanbul, Turkey, is actually a three-legged bridge among the Turkic Republics, Arab countries, and Europe. As an office, we also have represented, from time to time, the leading legal associations in these three regions, and we still have strong relations with them. In addition, in Kazakhstan and Dubai, we have personally worked and followed business developments in order to maintain our experience and expertise in those areas and keep our relationships close and mutually beneficial.
So, we are ready and strong in our expertise, service-delivery potential, and experiences (especially in international arbitration and in M&A) in this whole region.
What types of legal work are most common in Turkey and also to your firm?
In our office: M&A, all types of litigation and international arbitration in the above-mentioned sectors and regions.
How much of your work is local versus international?
International work is more dominant than national matters in our office. We provide consultancy and legal services in all areas to our foreign investor clients for their investments in Turkey. We provide and complete all the necessary transactions for immigration and citizenship and with respect to regulations and procedures for the protection of personal data.
We also provide our legal services to our Turkish clients, which include major financial institutions in the market and in every field.
How much progression has been made in the country on the issue of diversity and inclusion?
The legal profession in Turkey is distinguished by its demonstrated gender diversity, with women occupying prominent positions in law firms. We believe that our firm is such an example, but not the only one.
What Turkish legislation in 2021/22 will affect your clients and drive advisory work?
Turkish legislation is a living legal system that adapts to developing situations, and changes easily and reliably according to the requirements of the times. This flexibility produces beneficial elements for all investors and for our clients.
Where do you see the Turkish legal business market heading in 2022 and 2023?
As stated before, we believe that the energy sector is and will continue to be the leading sector in the legal market, powered by a recognition that it has the potential literally to save the business world as we know it, while making the best of the many short-term and mid-range business opportunities. Specifically, there will be an increase in the attention of foreign investors on the affordable companies, which will lead to major cross-border M&A projects. We are confident that this potential for growth and the ability to attract investment can be realised in the near future.
Last but not least, issues involving the protection of personal data will grow rapidly, both in their number and complexity, while the world starts to step into a new era of highly digitalised business.
For more information, please contact:
Caner Durgut, founding partner
Işıkal Law Office
Kaptanpaşa Mahallesi, Piyalepaşa Bulvarı, Famas Plaza No: 77, Kat: 4, Daire No: 69-70 Şişli 34384 İstanbul – Türkiye
T: +90 212 351 91 02