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Turkey 2015: Key Trends and Market Overview

Posted by: Laurence Simons 05/08/15

Turkey, an emerging market with a population reaching 80 million, is the 18th biggest economy in the world (2014 GDP ppp). The legal system in Turkey is mainly integrated with the Continental European, Civil Law System.  The country’s Customs Union with the EU and initiation of full membership talks, although currently in an on-hold status, was sufficient to lead the legislators adopting several new laws in the past decade. 

Over the last five years, despite the political instability, we have seen a number of international law firms setting up in Turkey, contradicting with the fact that foreign law firms are only allowed to advise on international law or their home country law. In private practice, besides many large Turkish law firms, there are also a considerable number of mid-levels, which leads to competitive pricing in the market. 

In the medium term, due to potential upcoming projects, we expect to see an increased demand for lawyers experienced in private equity, M&A, banking and finance.  We anticipate that law firms will continue to have the desire to recruit senior associates with existing client portfolios. The relative insularity of the Turkish market, as well as the fact that Turkish is the dominant language, means that the majority of hiring is done in-country. Turkish speakers with international qualifications are the most in-demand. With Laurence Simons enjoying such a global presence, we are well placed to be in contact with a number of Turkish Nationals who are currently working abroad, but would consider a move back to their home Country.

Regarding to the In-House market, we have seen a noticeable boost in sole counsel positions with regional responsibilities as some multinationals continue to setup META regional headquarters in Turkey. Such a trend provides a great opportunity for Turkish in-house lawyers to expand their international exposure and have career opportunities in different jurisdictions, with the future possibility of moving abroad as expatriate lawyers. The move from Turkey to Dubai is one we increasingly continue to see. 

Looking at sector trends and hiring trends, it is important to note the increase in the energy consumption in the country, which has in turn increased activity in the renewable energy sector. The e-commerce sector is another growing area and a new practice field for lawyers in Turkey. The traditional, established sectors such as pharmaceutical, FMCG and TMT currently have the largest in-house teams in Turkey and they consistently hire junior and mid level lawyers.

Turkey, in between Middle East and Europe, is a unique and challenging market and has one of the largest numbers of lawyers in the world. Given the sizable talent pool, when it comes to finding the right candidate with the right skill set, it is a key to have excellent market knowledge and robust candidate database to save companies from the long screening processes. Although the traditional, HR-led way of recruiting is still common in Turkey, many companies have started to see benefit and difference of using legal search firms and the demand continues to grow.