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What is a Law Office / Law Firm in Turkey?

Law offices are one of the main locations for legal services. Law offices not only offer consultancy services but also carry out activities to pursue law suits. They are also called as law firms. Whatever definition is made, law offices are locations offering public services where lawyers conduct their professional activities.

Law Offices/Law Firms and Bar Associations

Law offices have a private nature as a working place of the lawyers and a public nature since they also offer public services. However, bar associations are professional organizations the lawyers are registered to. The lawyers can neither work as attorneys nor open law offices without being registered to a bar association. There is one bar association in each province of Turkey. The bar associations do not have such an authority to intervene with the professional activity of a lawyer. These professional organizations act as public institutions to facilitate the lawyers to work as attorneys, to provide solidarity among the attorneys and to protect the human rights. The lawyers are independent officers in accordance with the Turkish Law of Attorneyship No. 1136. The Law of Attorneyship governs the scope of the professional activities of lawyers, how the lawyers carry out their legal activities and the relationship between the lawyers and the clients.

Law Offices and Law Firms in Istanbul

The biggest Turkish bar association is Istanbul Bar Association, which is also one of the biggest considering the number of the registered lawyers. The number of the lawyers in Istanbul is approximately 50.000. Therefore, it is natural that Istanbul is a center in Turkey when the number of the law offices/firms and the competence of the lawyers are taken into account. The lawyers in Istanbul usually carry out their activities in the law offices near the courthouse. There are three big courthouses in Istanbul, namely Istanbul Anatolian Court House, Istanbul Caglayan Courthouse and Bakirkoy Courthouse. The law offices in Istanbul are generally situated in the neighborhood of these courthouses. Although these law offices/firms are situated near the courthouses, a considerable number of them operate in some central locations in Istanbul.

How to Open a Law Office/Law in Turkey

To open a law office in Turkey, you should have an attorney’s license. To have an attorney’s license, you should graduate from a law school and have an internship as a lawyer for one year. After completing this internship period, the lawyers may open law offices after being registered in the bar associations in a province of Turkey. Numerically, one lawyer is enough to open a law office. The Turkish laws encourage the lawyers to open their individual law offices since their personal characteristics stand out much more as lawyers.

Law Offices, Attorneyship and Specialization

A lawyer holding an attorney’s license in Turkey can represent his/her client in any cases. There is no restriction of scope to work as a lawyer, which results from the fact that the attorneyhip as a profession is regarded as a problem-solving ability in Turkey. In other words, the lawyers in Turkey analyze and find a solution for the legal problems of their clients by relying on particular legal fields. Although it is not mandatory to choose a working field legally in Turkey, the lawyers are entitled to select particular cases while conducting their legal services. A Turkish lawyer is free to decide on whether or not to represent an individual in a lawsuit or legal dispute. In accordance with the laws, it constitutes a crime to compel a lawyer to approve or deny a lawsuit or dispute.

How does a Law Office/Law Firm Operate?

The Turkish law offices have to operate in accordance with the codes of conduct for the *lawyers*, namely Havana Rules on Attorneyship, European Codes of Conduct and Union of Turkish Bar Association Codes of Conduct regardless of the fact that the attorneys in these law offices are Turkish citizens or foreigners. Law firms should abide by certain professional ethics for the lawyers meticulously to carry out their activities. Some of the significant principles in Professional Codes of Conduct for Lawyers that the law offices should abide by are as follows:

Law Offices / Law Firms and Transparency

Law offices / law firms should have a transparent relationship with their clients. In accordance with Professional Codes of Conduct for Lawyers, the lawyers have to inform their clients about the essentials of their conduct and ensure that their clients are well informed about the procedures. The lawyers have to inform their clients about every step of their actions if demanded. The law firms have to notify the clients of the relevant costs and start the procedures upon the consent of their clients.

Law Offices and Confidentiality Obligation for Lawyers/Attorneys

Law offices and every lawyer employed in a law office should keep the information about their clients confidential. This confidentiality should cover the information about both the identity of the clients and the cases. All lawyers and other assistants should conceal all information whether personal or related with the cases included in any documents submitted by the clients. The confidentiality obligation of the lawyers remains effective until the end of their lives or even when the lawyer has to resign from his job for some reasons. For instance, all information disclosed by the culprit to his lawyer about a murder he committed or private information about an action for compensation should be kept secret until end of the lawyer’s life.

Law Firms and Independence of the Lawyer/the Attorney

Law firms should act independently from all other public or private institutions and organizations during all their legal practices. No institution can inculcate something in the lawyers while doing their jobs. The lawyers should act independently from their clients in accordance with the professional codes of ethics for the lawyers although they comply with the instructions of their clients about their case. Since the Professional Codes of Ethics for the Lawyers define the standards of attorneyship, these principles should be taken into account while carrying out their professional activity.

Law Firms and Prohibition to Defend Contrary Interests

Law firms cannot examine the cases of the individuals whose interests are incompatible to each other. When the interests of some clients are in contradiction with the others, the lawyers should immediately make a choice and resign the attorneyship of the other. The prohibition to defend contrary interests is the oldest professional code of ethics for the lawyers and is meticulously respected by the Turkish lawyers.

Activities of Law Offices

All Turkish law firms or attorneys are authorized to carry out activities in every field of law. While the scope of activities is not limited, each law office provides legal assistance in main fields of law. The so-called common activities of law offices are as follows:

Criminal Law and Law Offices

Criminal investigations or proceedings are among main fields of activity for law offices and lawyers. The lawyers providing legal assistance during criminal proceedings are colloquially called as criminal defense attorneys or serious crimes attorneys in Turkey. Law of Attorneyship does not mention about such terms as serious crimes attorneys. The term “serious crimes attorney” is used in practice and colloquially. Criminal defense attorneys represent their lawyers during the investigation phase, an activity commencing after the crime has been committed, and the prosecution phase commencing when a file is claimed. Statistically in Turkey, most of the crimes are committed in Istanbul. Therefore, it is likely that the number of the serious crimes attorneys is the highest in Istanbul. The serious crimes attorneys in Istanbul usually carry out their activities in the neighborhood of the courthouses. Bakirkoy has been regarded as an ideal location for the serious crimes attorneys to open a law office since the past.

Real Estate Law and Law Firms

The lawyers engaged in real estate cases are colloquially called as real estate attorneys. Any disputes on real estates and many cases such as title deed revocation and registration lawsuits, actio negatoria (suits to prevent interventions), lawsuits on the elimination of joint ownership, actions for preemption are main fields of activity for the law firms or attorneys wishing to work in the field of real estate law. Problems related with real estate law are common in several locations in Turkey. Particularly, a law office in Istanbul often deals with real estate suits. Unplanned urbanization, irregular land arrangements, incorrect records and such other reasons result in disputes related with real estate law.

Family Law, Attorneys and Law Firms

Family law is a developing field of law in Turkey. The Law on the Protection of Family and Prevention of Violence against Women is the biggest development within that respect. Every law office is engaged in family law. Since the measures for the protection of family, children and women are urgently needed, all law offices offer legal assistance. Law firms ensure that measures are taken such as leading the victims of domestic violence off the family and protecting the victims through Family Courts. Divorce suits, child support payments, pecuniary and non-pecuniary damages, property sharing in case of divorce are among the fundamental issues of the family law. Attorneys working in law offices and carrying out activities in this field are colloquially called as divorce lawyers.

Compensation Law and Law Offices

Compensation law is a broad field of law. Lawsuits for pecuniary and non-pecuniary damages are fundamental fields of compensation law and law offices. Lawsuits for pecuniary and non-pecuniary damages can be brought for many reasons. Such lawsuits often brought in Turkey are as follows: Lawsuits for pecuniary and non-pecuniary damages based on occupational accidents, lawsuits for pecuniary and non-pecuniary damages based on traffic accidents, lawsuits for pecuniary and non-pecuniary damages based on medical malpractices, lawsuits for pecuniary and non-pecuniary damages based on divorces and lawsuits for pecuniary and non-pecuniary damages based on loss of assets or physical injury. Law offices execute a detailed examination before bringing a lawsuit for pecuniary and non-pecuniary damages. Following the collection of evidence, they determine compensation amount. Law offices sometimes provide expert reviews based on the scope of lawsuits for pecuniary and non-pecuniary damages to determine this amount, as well. Law offices/law firms are the fundamental working places offering public services where *lawyers* conduct their professional activities. They are under private legal protection in accordance with the Law of Attorneyship. ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Istanbul - Turkey Lawyer Baran Dogan