Meet our Lawyers

Sofia Otala, Associate, Finance, Helsinki, currently seconded to Stockholm


What is your background at Hannes Snellman?
I joined Hannes Snellman as an Associate in the Finance group in Helsinki in the spring 2016. After nine months of working, I was seconded to the State Treasury of Finland for three months. To my joy, I was offered the opportunity to transfer to our Stockholm office directly after my previous secondment. I am currently working in the Finance group in Stockholm for a five-month period, focusing on acquisition financing transactions. Working in a Swedish-speaking setting has been my dream for a long time, as in addition to my law degree, I have studied business at Hanken School of Economics, a Swedish-speaking business school in Helsinki.

What have you enjoyed best about your secondment at the Stockholm office?
Working in Stockholm has been an amazing opportunity to learn to know our Swedish colleagues, with whom we work continuously in close cooperation, better. This secondment has also enabled me to enhance my Swedish skills, learn more about the Swedish and Nordic business life and legal field and to get acquainted with a slightly different working environment – even though I am still working for the same firm! Apart from purely professional aspects, doing a secondment has also provided me with the opportunity to experience living in one of my favourite cities in the world.

What has been challenging in working abroad?
When you move abroad, you have to build a great deal of your professional knowledge from scratch, as you have no existing network or knowledge of the market. Working in a new language can also be challenging. Even the way e-mails are written is different from what you are used to! Learning all that takes time and patience, but my luck has been to have extremely encouraging and supportive colleagues who patiently explain how things work.

What have you learned on your secondment?
During my secondment I have learned that there are always more ways to do things than what you are used to. Working with our Swedish colleagues has especially taught me to be reflective on why things are done in a particular way. Despite similarities in cultures and legal systems, a number of practices within the legal field are surprisingly country-specific. I am certain that understanding such similarities will greatly benefit me when working on future projects. And yes – my Swedish skills have improved significantly!

What are your TOP 3 tips for secondments?

  1. Be open-minded – your way of doing things is probably not the only correct way. Be open to new people, ways of doing things and the new culture in your secondment place, be it in the same country as your home office or abroad.
  2. Remember to keep in touch with your home office colleagues – it is useful to discuss your experiences with your home office colleagues on an on-going basis. The idea with secondments is that the entire team learns from the secondee’s experiences, in which frequent communication plays a key role.
  3. Enjoy the opportunity to have a different lifestyle for a while – both of my secondment experiences have entailed the possibility to live a different lifestyle for a defined period. Make the most of those opportunities and do things that you normally would not do. In the end, you will have fun or grow your gratitude for your normal life – or both!


Anna-Maria Tamminen, Managing Associate, Dispute Resolution, Helsinki


When did you start working at Hannes Snellman?
- I started to work at Hannes Snellman in September 2011 when I moved back to my native Finland after seven years spent working and studying abroad in Vienna, London, and New York.

What is included in a “normal” working day?
- Luckily, my working days here vary greatly from one another, but I do not think there is a day when I do not write emails or talk to people. Obviously, as a litigator, the days when we go to trial or have arbitration hearings are very exciting highlights. But I also enjoy drafting legal argument, digging into the facts of a case and understanding the legal framework.

I am a people person so I enjoy working in a team and I am glad to be surrounded by good colleagues. I am also involved in numerous arbitration related working groups both in Finland and abroad and so most of my days are also partly filled with reviewing submissions for publication, preparing for speaking engagements like teaching at the university, or giving seminar presentations and making arbitration more known in Finland. And although on these days I get to teach at times, personally, I am learning more every day.

Can you describe your working group?
- My group within the office consist of the dispute resolution team both here in Helsinki and in Stockholm. For each case we have smaller groups of people ranging from just two people for small matters to five or six of us, including everyone from partners to assistants.

What do you like about your job? What do you wish could be improved?
- What I like about my job is oral advocacy and arguing cases. The best part of this job is when a case seems like a mess when one first takes a look at it and then the tribunal or court awards our client the relief we have asked for because we have been able to present the case in a clear and logical way. It is a bit like putting together a puzzle from thousands of separate pieces and seeing it come together. Because of my background and the years spent abroad, international work is closest to my heart. I enjoy figuring out cultural conflicts within the law and between people. My dream is to make sure that clients in Finland can get world-class dispute resolution representation in Finland in international matters, and I am working towards achieving that goal. The dispute resolution market in Finland is still very “Finnish”, which has its pros and cons. On the arbitration front there are, however, a lot of good initiatives for moving things forward. I am very glad that I can be part of these exciting developments!

Can you describe the Hannes Snellman culture?
- To me the Hannes Snellman culture is very encouraging and no-nonsense Nordic. By that I mean that initiatives are welcome, but there is not a lot of hierarchy or processes to jump through to get things done. We strive to do the best possible work in the best possible way, but we also understand that there is always room for development.


Klara Kjellberg, Senior Associate, Finance, Stockholm


When did you start working at Hannes Snellman?
- I joined Hannes Snellman as an associate in February 2011 after graduating from the University of Stockholm. Prior to this, I worked at Hannes Snellman as a thesis trainee and as a summer trainee during the spring and summer 2010. As a trainee, I worked mainly with Public and Private M&A and I wrote my thesis within the field of Public M&A. I took my advanced courses at Queen Mary College in London studying banking and finance and when I returned to Hannes Snellman I, therefore, started working in the Banking and Finance group.

What is included in a “normal” working day?
- My days can include very different tasks, however, on a day-to-day basis I call clients and/or counterparts, correspond via e-mail with clients, colleagues in other countries and counterparts, and discuss on-going projects with the team. I usually draft various financing related agreements or review drafts received from the counterpart.

Can you describe your working group?
- The Banking and Finance group includes some 20 lawyers in all Hannes Snellman offices. In Stockholm, the group consists of two partners and some seven lawyers, and two assistants. We work a lot cross-border mainly with our Finnish colleagues, which is something I really appreciate. We also work regularly with law firms in other countries such as the UK, the US and all across Europe.

What do you like about your job? What things could be improved?
- I like the fact that workdays are very different from one another. Some days I am absorbed in reviewing a loan agreement and on other days I get to participate in business discussions with clients or negotiate with a counterparty. The most significant thing in my work is that I always get to solve problems and try to find the best possible solution for our clients. There is an immense learning curve and after more than five years, I still feel that I learn something new every day. I am very interested in project management so on the improvement side I want to continue to develop our project management skills and processes to ensure that we are as efficient as possible in our work.

Can you describe the Hannes Snellman culture?
- Hannes Snellman has been present in Helsinki since 1909 and is one of Finland’s biggest law firms. On the contrary, Hannes Snellman opened in Stockholm in 2008 and has grown rapidly from six partners to some 60 lawyers and 100 employees in total. The Hannes Snellman culture, therefore, aims at combining the experience from over a hundred years of practice in Finland with the new and upcoming entrepreneurial ambiance created in Stockholm, and the strong foothold Hannes Snellman has in Russia. To me, Hannes Snellman is open-minded, initiatives are very much welcomed, and we have fun at work.


Toni Malminen, Senior Associate, Competition & Procurement, Helsinki


When did you join Hannes Snellman and what is your area of specialty?
- I joined the firm in 2007 after graduating from Yale Law School. I practise competition and public procurement law (although I did do a six-month stint at our M&A practice a few years ago), specialising in merger control, compliance, and public procurement proceedings. In addition, I have been able to keep up an academic sideline in legal history, taking my doctorate in 2016.

Please describe your “regular” day at the office.
- My day-to-day work consists of client correspondence, reviewing agreements and other commercial documents, drafting various kinds of legal briefs, and corresponding with various authorities and counterparties in Finland and abroad. As most of this can be done via e-mails, I feel that lawyers spend (too) much of their time at the office. However, I lecture extensively and participate in the firm’s student co-operation activities, which provides a nice change of pace.

Please describe your team.
- Our competition law practice comprises some 20 lawyers, of whom seven are based in Helsinki. It is also worth noting that we closely co-operate with our litigation team (in cartel cases in particular). The relatively small size of the team fosters camaraderie, information sharing, flexible allocation of assignments, and laid-back interpersonal dynamics.

What are the professional advantages of working in a major law firm?
- Working at a law firm like Hannes Snellman provides one with extensive possibilities for professional development. Even during an economic downturn (and the Finnish economy has been stagnant for a while), firms are constantly engaged in M&A projects, finance restructuring, negotiating and drafting contracts, etc., and many of these projects have competition law or public procurement related implications as well.

Would you recommend lawyers and law students to apply?
- Big law firms operate in an increasingly transnational environment in which linguistic skills and a cosmopolitan mindset are assets; they thus offer a variety of challenges for law students and lawyers with an international, commercial-minded outlook.


Anna Sundquist, Senior Associate, Dispute Resolution, Stockholm


When did you start working at Hannes Snellman?
- I started working at Hannes Snellman in September 2011.

What is included in a “normal” working day?
- A normal working day usually includes reading up on a case or drafting submissions in a litigation or arbitration proceeding. Usually there will also be a meeting or two with a colleague or the responsible partner on different issues concerning the ongoing cases.

Can you describe your working group?
- Our working group consists of two partners, five associates, a couple of assistants, and a trainee. Because we all sit together in an office landscape, we are usually quite involved in what is going on in our respective cases and have the possibility to discuss and take advice from each other.

What do you like about your job? What do you wish could be improved?
- What I like the most about my job is to think of and come up with lines of argumentation in a case to convince the counterparty or judge/arbitral tribunal.

Can you describe the Hannes Snellman culture?
- I consider Hannes Snellman to be an open and relaxed law firm. The office landscape enables continuous discussions, both work-related and social, which makes it easy to get to know each other.


David Riihonen, Associate, M&A Private, Stockholm


When did you start working at Hannes Snellman?
- I started working as an associate at Hannes Snellman in January 2016.

What is included in a “normal” working day?
- Since I work in the Private M&A group, the “normal” working day is highly dependent on the transactions we are involved in as legal counsels. When a transaction starts, you never really know what kind of legal issues might occur during the project. However, the work can generally speaking be divided into three categories: due diligence, signing/closing preparations, and supporting senior colleagues by drafting different types of transactional documents. From an associate’s viewpoint, you could say that these three categories are the canvas upon which the transactional work is painted, if you will.

Can you describe your working group?
- The Private M&A group of the Stockholm office currently consists of three partners, 15 associates of different seniority, and three assistants.

What do you like about your job?
- I would say that the best thing about working with M&A is the fact that I get to work within so many different legal fields simultaneously. It is a constant learning process, and it gives you a great legal general knowledge, which is what I think all great lawyers have in common.


Antti Antikainen, Associate, Real Estate, Helsinki


When did you start working at Hannes Snellman?
- I started as an associate in the Real Estate team in November 2014.

What is included in a “normal” working day?
- One of the great things about working at Hannes Snellman is that there is no such thing as a “normal” working day. From my perspective, this is due to the fact that most of my work is related to transactions, which leads to variation both in the number of tasks at hand and also in the pace of work. Quite often the “normal” working day includes drafting of transactional documents, closing or signing preparations, and due diligence work.

Can you describe your working group?
- The Real Estate team could be described as a pragmatic, client oriented, and business-minded group. The culture is supportive and open, and it is possible to be fully involved in transactions from the early steps to the post-closing activities. We also have a lot of collaboration with our colleagues in Finance, M&A, and Tax.

What do you like about your job?
- I like the fact that there are always new challenges and opportunities to learn something new. It is also motivating to be in direct contact with the client and to learn about their perspectives and to see the difference our work makes. Generally speaking, I think that the combination of responsibility and freedom in the day-to-day work is great!

Can you describe the Hannes Snellman culture?
- The Hannes Snellman culture is highly professional and ambitious, but at the same time relaxed, down to earth, and friendly. Collegiality is an important part of the everyday Hannes Snellman culture, and it is always easy to approach people.