News & Views

Get to Know Us | Hannes Snellman’s Corporate Citizenship Team

30 June 2020

By serving the public good, we translate our values into action.

Hannes Snellman has a proud heritage of serving the community. Our corporate citizenship means the realisation in practice of our firm’s and employees’ fundamental professional values. Today, we are involved in a wide range of initiatives related to corporate citizenship by contributing with our expertise and resources to promote values and causes that benefit our community. Our staff forms the basis of this work, and we continuously cultivate and develop our role in this area.

We have a diverse corporate citizenship team, whose responsibility it is to coordinate our sustainability and corporate citizenship work. The team is led by Partner Johan Aalto.

We had a chat with our corporate citizenship team members to find out what they think about their work as a part of the team, what are their top priorities, and how corporate citizenship work is present in their everyday life.

Johan, you have been with the firm for more than three decades. Has corporate citizenship been part of the legal profession during your whole career or is this a modern phenomenon?

"The development of our country and its business environment has fundamentally changed over the past three decades. However, the foundation and mission of the profession is still the same, in other words to defend and to develop the rule of law. Corporate citizenship boils down to responsibility for more than the firm itself. The basic idea of taking responsibility has, as such, been part of the professional values for a long time. Over the past years, many law firms have gradually started to realise that in this context, they need concrete answers and actions in addition to traditional slogans and general principles. The development is positive – albeit a bit slow. We need a thorough discussion on the fundamental questions (why, how, what, to whom) to meet the requirements of the society, our people, and other constituencies. Gradually also the legal profession will realise that corporate citizenship and sustainability are foremost an opportunity."

Johan Aalto, Partner

Noora, you are working in our Environment & Natural Resources team, and you are a member of the Corporate Citizenship team, too. How are environmental matters present in your everyday life?

"Working in our Environment & Natural Resources team means that my daily assignments have to do with renewable energy projects, infrastructure, and permitting of operations that have an impact on the environment. Luckily, most corporations these days are visionary with respect to reducing their environmental footprint and aim to do more than the bare legislative minimum. In my private life, I enjoy spending time outdoors and try to live in a sustainable manner, which includes, for example, choosing wind energy and a vegetarian diet, recycling, limiting my consumption and flying, and supporting organisations that engage in the protection of the environment. Many of these themes have been taken into account in the operations of Hannes Snellman, but certainly both me and the firm could do even better."

Noora Britschgi, Senior Associate

Aaron, which themes are especially important to you in corporate citizenship work?

"I tend to segment the different themes of corporate citizenship work with the help of UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Personally, I feel strongly for the SDG 16 (“Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions”). Protecting and promoting rule-based order, rule of law, and strong institutions should be on the agenda of every law professional."

Aaron Fagerholm, Associate

Heidi, can you mention some examples of the kind of corporate citizenship actions Hannes Snellman has recently taken?

"On a yearly basis, we do quite a lot of different corporate citizenship activities - we do pro bono work, we work to raise funds for charitable causes, and participate in a number of foundations that promote culture, education, and social matters. We also contribute to the society by participating, for instance, in the development of legislation. One of the recent projects we did together with our staff was supporting disadvantaged children by participating in the “Jokaiselle lapselle lounas” campaign (Lunch for Every Child). Our staff had a chance to donate part of their lunch benefit for the charity collection, and the firm doubled the amount. We managed to help more than 100 families in need. It was a fantastic joint effort by our people, our firm, and Venner, who organised the collection."

Heidi Heinänen, Communications Manager

Tommi, why did you decide to join Hannes Snellman’s corporate citizenship team?

"I wanted to devote more of my time for contributing to common causes and Hannes’s Corporate Citizenship Team with its extremely talented members felt like an excellent opportunity for this.

More acutely, I have followed the discussion around profit-seeking companies’ fundamental purpose for a few years now, and we seem to be heading towards a direction where corporations are expected to take on more responsibility as a result of their increased influence in the shaping of societies. I genuinely believe that in the future, the private sector will be assuming a more altruistic role than before in solving the existential challenges of our time, such as the climate change and inequality. This is in the corporations’ own long-term interest as well. We lawyers have an important part to play in this evolution, and I am eager to bring up some of my thoughts on the matter."

Tommi Kovero, Associate

Linnea, what does it mean to you that your employer is active on corporate citizenship front?

"Hannes Snellman is in a great position to make an impact for the benefit of the community and society because of our know-how, our business, and our role in the society, and I personally feel that it is very important that this opportunity is taken. It is also great that my employer can serve as an example to others on the corporate citizenship work."

Linnea Lehtonen, Associate

Maria, what theme would you like to promote in Hannes Snellman’s corporate citizenship work in the future if you had to pick just one?

"I think all parts and themes in Hannes Snellman’s corporate citizenship are important, but if I could highlight one, I think that the requirements from clients and external parties in relation to sustainability will in the future play a prominent role. More and more clients demand that the law firm that they use complies and incorporates sustainability in its business model, and I think Hannes Snellman is and it should be in the forefront in relation to this. On the other hand, I think it is important that Hannes Snellman as a law firm also puts pressure on external suppliers that they have in place and that they comply with such policies."

Maria Orrgard, Counsel

Anni, you have been involved in Hannes Snellman’s corporate citizenship work for a few years – what has been the best part of that work?

"To me, one of the most important things in our corporate citizenship work is that I can have an actual impact, together with my colleagues, on the improvement of the wellbeing of our society, and implement our responsibilities, for instance, in environmental matters. In addition, it is always rewarding to see how our work starts to pay off in real terms."

Anni Pöllänen, Legal Assistant

Martin, how are corporate citizenship and sustainability themes seen in client work?

"If they are not already, corporate citizenship and sustainability will most definitely be staple goods in the future. In order to continue to be a successful business, we need to show that we are proactively working with and managing these issues. When working in assignments, this can be done by our choice of external experts (where we can have clear demands on our cooperation partners), our choice of meeting form (why fly, when we can meet via a video conference?), our pro-bono work and donations, our invoicing principles and methods (are physical paper invoices really necessary?), and our client intake procedure (are there certain companies that we do not want to be associated with?). There are many small details that we can improve and fine-tune in order to be even better situated to meet the demands of the clients of the future."

Martin Rifall, Partner

Annika, what does it mean to you to be part of Hannes Snellman’s corporate citizenship team?

"I feel that at Hannes Snellman, we have not only a responsibility but also a great opportunity to truly make an impact on our society. I am very proud and excited to be a part of the corporate citizenship core team, and I look forward to seeing what we can achieve by bringing in the entire firm with all our tremendous employees."

Annika Schauman, Senior Associate

Taina, you work as the head of Tech & Innovation team. What kind of role do you have in the corporate citizenship team?

"I hope to be able to contribute by ensuring that whatever we do on the tech & innovation side, we will also utilise it in our CSR work. This also applies vice versa, in other words, the ideas and thoughts that come up in our CSR work may have wider implications for our day-to-day business as well. I also have a personal desire to contribute to something bigger, and this team is a great way to do it."

Taina Tenhunen, Head of Tech & Innovation

Maria, what kind of themes are especially close to your heart in the corporate citizenship work at Hannes Snellman?

"The themes that are especially close to my heart relate to diversity and inclusion (D&I), as well as sustainability and climate change.

When working on D&I initiatives at Hannes, I think it is important that we look at diversity beyond gender equality, and tune in the importance of inclusion, which is basically about all of us at Hannes feeling that we can actually be ourselves and speak our mind. This is closely connected to psychological safety and empathetic leadership, as well as our firm’s communication and discussion culture.

In addition to D&I, I have an interest in sustainability and climate change topics that was awoken during my PhD work on competition policy and the growing importance of non-price parameters. On the whole, I am really excited to contribute to Hannes’s engagement with sustainability themes and to coming up with different ways of making impact."

Maria Wasastjerna, Partner

Valerie, you have been involved in pro bono projects. Can you share some thoughts on that work?

"Hannes Snellman has a strong tradition of handling pro bono assignments, and there are many opportunities available, which is why it was easy to get involved in the firm’s pro bono projects. In my view, with pro bono work, we are truly able to make an impact, and I find the pro bono work really rewarding in many ways: while you are doing good for the society, you can at the same time broaden your knowledge and understanding of the different fields of law. Also, the pro bono work makes a nice change to your normal daily work."

Valerie Wårvik, Associate