Studying law... in Turkey
As promised, we start the series of posts co-created by amazing, ambitious, motivating and hard-working international students, whom I’ve been fortunate enough to meet in person and be called their friend.
Why such series? To give you an insight into studying and starting your professional journey in different jurisdictions with an opportunity to ask the authors further questions and connect. From my own experience I can tell you how important is networking, also on the international level. Not to mention that people like Gözde keep motivating me, both directly and indirectly by means of encouraging messages I get from them almost every day on my social media, or just simply by the influential content they publish.
Here we go. I’m leaving you with my first guest, hoping you’ll enjoy her text!
”Hello Dear Colleagues,
I am Gözde, a legal trainee from Istanbul, Turkey. I would like to start this article by saying that it’s a pure pleasure to post for you all!
Let me tell you a bit about legal education in Turkish metropoly Instanbul, particularly Yeditepe University – which in 2016 was recognised by Nevada State Bar as the university with equal quality of legal education comparing to American colleges.
To start your legal journey, you need to pass a kind of exam to switch from high school to university. The exam includes two parts and its name changes depending on the current curriculum of Ministry of Education. It is called YKS now. So, if you want to study law, it is enough to be placed within first 200.000 students among those who took the exam. However, if you are aiming to study in a reputable law faculty, you must usually receive one of the first 20.000 best scores.
Legal studies last 4 years and basically include Turkish Law with some other legal branches, also international in character, such as EU Law or Arbitration. In addition, some universities might have their own procedure in terms of the content, number of the classes and language of lectures. For instance, at the Yeditepe University (“Yeditepe”) you are expected to have advanced-level of English before beginning the faculty, since you have to take Common Law classes and 35 percent of the academic program is held in English. If you are not at the required level of English, you need to complete Preparation School, meaning generally 1 more year on the top of basic 4-year program.
Common Law classes, even though rather not advanced, are compulsory, hence if you fail them, you cannot graduate. That is the reason why most law students drag out their studies and graduate after more than 5 years :D Despite that, in my opinion we cannot treat it as a disadvantage, for there are only few universities with such program that gives you a chance to outstand. And don’t worry about me, I’ve passed everything right on time :)
On the flip side of the coin, you lack time and your social life doesn’t in fact exist due to the enormous number of classes. The main place where the law students of Yeditepe can be found is the library on the campus both during a day and at night. Yeditepe is well-known for its huge green yard on the campus, main spot for social events, unfortunately law students cannot spend much time there comparing to other faculties. And trust my words, I had a chance to chill there only few times, so my own experience proves this fact (- sad story :D).
Nevertheless, those hard conditions have made law students more successful in MUN and Justinianus Moot Court (“JMC”) on the university level, and consequently JMC’s become the biggest international moot court competition among the universities. International character of Yeditepe and reputation of its professors, who are masters of their domains, make it attractive for international students’ to study here postgraduate programs or take part in Erasmus program.
After completing 4 years of studies you obtain a Bachelor’s degree and start job-seeking process by sending your CV and motivation letters to various firms. There is a reason for that - you need to register to the bar and carry out your 1-year legal internship to become a lawyer. One little additional note: with the New Jurisdiction Reform, students who have enrolled the faculty as of 2020 are obliged to take the exam before 1-year traineeship in order to practice in legal area as a lawyer.
When it comes to experience, I did a summer internship in a boutique law office after the third year of studies. Before the graduation I wanted to have an international working experience, therefore I sent my CV and cover letters to not only good law firms with offices in Istanbul, but also those located in Kiev, Ukraine. Besides that, I have completed the international traineeship in Axon and another traineeship period in BBVA Garanti Bank.
I am currently working for AksuCaliskanBeygo Attorney Partnership which is one of the reputable international law firms in Turkey, providing legal service to international and national clients. And I am just looking forward to my next traineeships in Malta and Portugal!
I am writing this post on the Turkish Lawyers’ Day (5th April), so Happy Lawyers’ Day to all of you!
Please do not hesitate to contact me, if you want to ask any further questions or just learn more about my studies and qualification process in Turkey.
Best Regards, Gözde, Istanbul Turkey”