Experiences from Hannes Snellman and Nordea’s Joint Trainee Programme
24 February 2021
Last year, Hannes Snellman and Nordea launched a joint trainee programme. The purpose of the programme is to offer law students the opportunity to experience what it would be like to work as a lawyer not only at a law firm but also at the largest bank in the Nordic countries. At the beginning of 2021, Toni Eloranta and Oliver Vesterlund, two of our former associate trainees, continued their traineeships at Nordea. Toni and Oliver worked in different teams based on their own interests, finance and M&A.
Toni is a fourth-year law student at the University of Helsinki and a nearly graduated finance student at Aalto University School of Business. He spent a total of five months in the joint trainee programme. At Hannes Snellman, Toni worked in the Finance Team, and at Nordea, he worked in the Large Corporates & Institutions Legal (LC&IL) Team, which provides financial solutions to large Nordic and international corporations and institutional customers.
Oliver is a final-year law student at the University of Helsinki, and he has worked in many positions at Hannes Snellman, most recently as an associate trainee in our M&A team before his traineeship at Nordea. At Nordea, Oliver worked in the Group Corporate Legal Team, which handles Nordea’s company law and securities market law matters, including corporate governance, insider, and disclosure issues and Nordea’s M&A activities and other structural changes.
Why are you interested in financial law/M&A in particular? When did your fascination begin?
T: I am interested in various fields of law, which is probably the biggest reason why I am fascinated with financial law. Businesses, governments, and individuals all need financing in different circumstances and for countless different purposes. Consequently, I see financial law as a combination of different fields of law that varies case by case. There is no specific moment I suddenly became interested in financial law — it has been a gradual process motivated by a desire to understand how financial markets work.
O: As a business enthusiast, M&A felt like a great choice all the way from the beginning of law school. I am interested in M&A, as it is closely tied with the business of a company; every transaction always has a business purpose it aims to complete. In M&A, you get to put your skills to the test to find suitable solutions for all the parties included in a transaction. It is an exciting combination of law and business.
How did your time as an associate trainee at Hannes Snellman prepare you for your traineeship at Nordea?
T: As an associate trainee at Hannes, I learned the basics about financial transactions and became familiar with the level of preciseness and diligence required from a lawyer. The four-week traineeship at Nordea went past really quickly, and I felt that it was really helpful that I already had the basic skills needed to efficiently work there right from the start.
O: At Hannes Snellman, I learned the valuable basics of company law, which are in everyday use at Nordea. I also learned a lot about doing research and legal writing. As our team is responsible for many public releases, it is important that the language used is correct and consistent. Almost every legal question that lands on my desk is detailed and complex. It is useful to be able to do legal research by using various sources.
What kind of preconceptions did you have about working in a bank beforehand?
T: I try to avoid preconceptions about things that I do not have experience of, so I was excited to see for myself what working in a bank is like.
O: I knew that regulations play a big part in banks’ daily operations. You could not have missed hearing about regulation relating to either capital requirements or anti-money laundering on the news. I also thought that there would be no day like the other, as the questions lawyers deal with can vary so much. All in all, I was very excited to see how a large Nordic bank operates!
Could you describe your assignments at Nordea?
T: I assisted the lawyers in several loan transactions by reviewing and drafting loan agreements and ancillary documentation. Furthermore, I carried out legal research relating to financial law and different investment products (e.g. MiFID II product governance and the Rules and Regulations of Nasdaq Derivatives Markets). In addition, I got to participate in various internal and external legal trainings.
O: My assignments have centred around the annual general meeting and releases relating to it, as the annual general meeting is scheduled for the spring. Company law, supplemented by credit institutions and stock exchange regulation, has been involved in almost everything I have done. I have, for example, drafted material that will be published on Nordea’s website, proofread financial statement releases, and researched questions relating to the processes of general meetings and the distribution of assets.
What did you learn during your time at Nordea? Any surprises?
T: I learned how much of a business-driven approach Nordea’s lawyers have and how they cooperate with different stakeholders within the bank. I was also able to gain perspective on what the most essential things from a bank’s perspective are when it comes to how lawyers can add value to different transactions. Perhaps the most surprising thing was just to see how many different roles lawyers can have at a bank.
O: I already knew that banks are strictly regulated. The amount of external and internal regulation has still managed to surprise me. If something is not exactly regulated in external frameworks, it is at least regulated internally. It takes a lot of work inside the company to keep up all materials.
What would you say to applicants applying to our associate trainee programme who are also eager to continue at Nordea?
T: Be open-minded, proactive, and ask for more information if there is something you do not fully understand. These traineeships are great opportunities to learn from highly skilled people and to try different career opportunities, so why not make the most of it. I warmly recommend the joint trainee programme to everyone.
O: It is a great opportunity to put the skills learned earlier to good use and to see a different environment. I was well received by my team. As you will already be familiar with the legal basics, the transition to Nordea is easy.
You can read the previous interview from this series here.