Current State of Legal Tech in Turkey
Ongoing digitalisation trends in every other sector also push the legal sector to become faster, more agile and user-oriented. Changes coming from different places have a strong impact on legal systems to change. Turkish legal professionals have also been feeling this trend and pressures as well. However, the legal tech market is still immature and slowly developing in Turkey. Let’s take a look together at what’s going on in Turkey.
Before explaining the Turkish legal tech landscape, it would be better to understand the surrounding ecosystem. Turkish legal system is a civil law system and laws are codified. Case law is used for interpretation. The main sources of law are the constitution, codes, international treaties, presidential decrees, regulations and by-laws. The judiciary is divided into, constitutional, civil and criminal courts, administrative courts and courts of conflict. Public entities and autonomous administrative authorities are on the administrative side. There are also quasi-legal authorities like arbitration committees for consumers.
In terms of professional organisations, the Turkish Bar of Associations is the umbrella organisation for all city bar associations in Turkey where lawyers need to register to a city bar association but can practice law anywhere in Turkey.
All these items and more to be explored in detail make the Turkish system a complicated and delicate ecosystem for legal techs to navigate.
What about Turkish Legal Tech Companies?
There are around 38 companies that are either fully legal tech companies or software companies that also provide legal tech tools. Most of them either provide law firm management products or data protection compliance automation tools. In between all 38 companies, there are two contract management and three law edtech companies.
In addition to this, there is not a formal legal tech association in Turkey. Soon ELTA’s Turkey chapter will be opening in Turkey as a way to bring legal tech providers together for the advancement of the legal tech market in Turkey.
One of the issues in Turkey that also prevent us from knowing more about the development and tracking the market is that are several legislative barriers and not much data about the legal tech development in Turkey. The legislative barriers include a marketing ban, billing regulations and limits to entrepreneurship for lawyers. We also do not have much data about legal tech adoption and needs surveys’ in Turkey which could lighten the users’ needs and market size for legal techs.
What Do Turkish Lawyers and Law Students Need?
There are around 140.000 lawyers in Turkey with a number growing every day due to the increase in law faculties in Turkey. There are around 84 law faculties with 17.000 alumni turnover annually. This makes the Turkish legal market larger but also increases the competition between lawyers and also makes fresh law graduates lives a lot more difficult in finding jobs.
Concerning these trends, legal tech becomes both a disadvantage and an advantage for legal professionals. It is a disadvantage because learning and practising legal tech requires training and dedication to make change happen. However, It is also an advantage differentiating the lawyer using legal tech from others as he/she becomes enabled and gives a competitive edge for faster, clearer and more agile legal advice.
From my experience, young lawyers have more tendency to try new things and learn more about legal tech. They are open to new tools. Thus, law schools become a great playing field for legal techs to bond with law students and engage them throughout their careers.
The Turkish legal market is underdeveloped. However, with the new bar association management board elections this October, things may change for good. To provide excellent service to clients and complete both locally and internationally, lawyers need to use legal tech. In this regard, all Turkish legal market actors need to prioritize understanding legal tech and how it could affect the development of the legal sector.
In addition to this, the participation of academia is essential. Istanbul Bilgi University acknowledging this need will be offering legal tech as an elective course and opened Bilgi Legal Tech Lab, a dedicated Law Faculty Lab for legal tech, both first of its kind in Turkey.
Last but not least, bar associations have a key role in the advancement of the legal profession. Observing from other jurisdictions, legal tech is commonly used in advancement efforts. Thus, we immediately need a needs survey for lawyers to analyse their tech abilities and needs to co-create the best solutions matching these with all key stakeholders in the Turkish legal ecosystem.
Looking forward to comments and questions – get in touch! Thank you for reading 😊
Ebru Metin is the founder and CEO of award-winning social enterprise, Legal Design Turkey. She is also acting as the ambassador of the European Legal Technology Association and a member of the Global LegalTech Consortium. Ebru trailblazes legal innovation in Turkey by combining legal design, technology and social innovation. Her chief happiness officer is her cat Manchi.