Member Spotlight – Deniz Ulas Göçen: in harmony with music and the law

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Deniz Ulaş Göçen is a lawyer with a difference. As an aspiring pianist and potential composer, music was always his first love – and as a teenager he assumed composing would be his vocation in life.

But as he went through high school and college, Deniz also got interested in economics and business. Indeed, he planned to take a double degree in both subjects at one point. It’s ironic then that he’d never really thought of law as a trade: “My journey into law is a tale as fascinating as it is unexpected.”

It was only after studying business and writing an article for a magazine that the legal literature suddenly attracted his attention. “I started studying business and was publishing in a magazine at that time. I set up a few interviews with lecturers from the law school, and they invited me to take a degree in law. So, that’s how I started my law degree…” Deniz laughs. “Totally unplanned.”

Competition law

Deniz soon realised he liked competition law; a mix of law, economics, and business, using all three of his skills in one subject. The practice area was also in its infancy in Turkey, so it was a new legal area that he could adopt as his own.

“I attended the Erasmus Exchange programme in Amsterdam and took my first competition law lessons there. Then, when I was back in Turkey, I attended an internship at the Turkish Competition Authority.”

It was after this that he started to specialise first in competition law, and then corporate and company law: “I started to work at a law firm while I was still studying in the law school. That was really helpful for me; I was studying corporate and company law, and I was going into the office and drafting the articles of association of companies, for example. That was how I started learning what was it all about.”

Corporate law and tax

Deniz started working as a full-time legal trainee in 2006 when foreign capital investments began taking off in Turkish financial markets. This gave him an added focus on corporate law and tax for emerging businesses – and he was now emerging as a legal all-rounder.

“I was focusing on multiple areas. I really like it when you’re able to know something about everything, having a load of different focus areas including tax.”

“In Turkey, for example, tax law is practised by certified public accountants, not by lawyers. But I know from UK and US colleagues that all tax questions are addressed to and answered by the lawyers in their own jurisdictions. That’s why the foreign investors were expecting us to answer tax questions as well.”

International law

Along with this eclectic mix of specialisms, Deniz also got to meet legal professionals of all different practices from around the world. International law was a different area for him and one that brought him in touch with a huge number of foreign investors from different countries.

“It is fantastic to work with other nationals. You’re communicating with different cultures, with different languages, and different aspects of business and law. That allows you to look at the bigger picture.”

Deniz found that investors from different countries have different negotiating techniques – and he quickly learned to adapt to them.

“For example, when you are sitting at a table with a Dutch investor, they have really good negotiation skills – and you are just improving your own negotiating skills as well. Meanwhile, if you’re sitting with German investors, they like to apply the rules, so you have to be much stricter with the applicable law.”

Becoming a partner

Ten years ago, Deniz started working for Güzeldere Balkan Göçen Attorney Partnership (which was then named Güzeldere Özmert Balkan Law Firm) and became a partner four years ago: “My general expertise is corporate and company law. But a very specific focus of mine is family corporate law where we represent shareholding family members in their disagreements and negotiations with the other shareholding family members. Many of these businesses are mid-sized or large-scale companies in various sectors.”

A leading and rising area in real estate in Turkey is urban transformation: “In real estate, in Turkey, urban transformation is very important as we unfortunately await more huge earthquakes. We provide services to the real estate owners to renovate or rebuild their buildings as part of urban transformation as well as the real estate companies, which is one of my specialties.”

Outside Turkey, Deniz works for several foreign investment companies. This is where the IR Global network has become key to helping Güzeldere Balkan Göçen to source business abroad.

IR Global

“We worked with a colleague from IR Global to establish a UK partnership with a client in Turkey. We coordinated it and provided all services. Now the investor wants to go public in the next few months, and we are waiting to see how that goes. From the legal perspective, within a strict and limited time, we did a great job with the help of IR Global.”

Deniz wants to do more with IR Global in the coming years, particularly with the network’s MENA group.

“In the past year, we have become very active in the MENA Group. I attended the MENA meeting in İstanbul, which was my first meeting in IR Global. I recently attended the Amsterdam event and we’re going to be at the Paris event. Hopefully, in the coming years, with other colleagues attending IR Global events, we plan to be even more active.’

Increased marketing exposure

For the future, Deniz and his colleagues plan to give the firm more exposure at home and overseas, with the support of IR Global as the network of choice for marketing.

“Yes, in the future, we plan to focus more on marketing and getting as much out of the relations as we can that we have with current and potential clients, including those who can be reached through IR Global. It’s an action plan that all of our partners are currently working on.”

To that end, each partner has allocated time for themselves to build out their professional profiles, do more networking and to try to enjoy themselves at the same time.

Relaxing with family and the piano

To unwind, Deniz is hoping to take up the piano again after many years.

He’s also teaching his niece how to play the piano. He finds it relaxes him after a tough working day.

“To relax I like to watch movies at the cinema or on Netflix. Other than that, I like spending time with my family, especially with my niece and nephew. Teaching them the little I remember of the piano,” he laughs.

As a final word, he wanted to add: “This is the first time that I’ve done an interview like this, and I really like it. Often in our business, when you’re talking about yourself you tend to think you have an inflated ego, so I don’t always like speaking about myself.”

“But I feel happy to have introduced myself to the network. I hope that this shines a light on me that’s of interest to someone from IR Global who is reading this.”