News & Views

Get to Know Us | Johan Holmquist, Senior Associate, Competition & Procurement

22 March 2021

We interviewed Johan Holmquist, who works as a senior associate in our Competition & Procurement Team in Stockholm. Johan has recently spent some time on a remote secondment in the corresponding team in Helsinki.

Could you tell us a bit about your professional background?

Before joining the firm in 2018, I followed the traditional judge career path. In 2011, I started out clerking at the Stockholm District Court, where I had the fortune of working closely with a very skilled judge and scholar in competition law. Having gravitated towards EU law during my studies (in Stockholm and Berlin) and internships, I took an immediate liking to working with competition law cases. I was then accepted to the judge trainee programme at the Svea Court of Appeal in Stockholm. 

My first assignment as a non-permanent judge was at the Nyköping District Court, where I handled a variety of criminal, civil, and family cases. Unlike in countries with a ‘recognition model’ of judicial organisation — in which judges are appointed later in life in recognition of other career achievements, usually associated with common law jurisdictions — judges in countries with a ‘career model’ (such as Sweden and other civil law jurisdictions) join the judiciary at a young age. Looking back, presiding over court proceedings that early in my career was, at times, a challenging but extremely rewarding experience. 

During the academic year of 2016–2017, I moved to New York with my family to pursue an LL.M. in competition, innovation, and information law at NYU Law. There, I also worked as a research assistant to the renowned Professor Eleanor Fox, who specialises in international antitrust. I really thrived in the international environment at NYU and am grateful for the opportunities I had there and for the global networks I established.

After that, I came back to Stockholm to finish the judge trainee programme as an associate judge at the Patent and Market Court of Appeal (which is a division within the Svea Court of Appeal), where I handled several high-profile competition and intellectual property cases. However, rather than continuing the traditional career path towards a position as a permanent judge (usually by seeking employment as a legal advisor in one of the government ministries), I decided to go into private practice. So far, I have not regretted that decision.       

What made you want to do a remote secondment?

The matters handled by our competition and procurement practice are often complex and extend beyond national borders. This means that we must be able to work seamlessly between our Stockholm and Helsinki offices. For instance, our team is currently representing a Nordic market-leading client in merger control proceedings before the national competition authorities in Finland, Norway, and Sweden, and we recently acted as lead global counsel to another client in a matter that involved merger filings to the competition authorities in 19 jurisdictions all over the world. However, integrating the team across the offices is an ongoing process, and I choose to do a secondment to contribute to that work. In addition, during the past year, our cross-border practice has grown significantly with several new hires. I believe it is important to get to know everyone on the team.

What do you think are the biggest differences in the work culture between Finland and Sweden?

Communication. Sweden is one of the most — if not the most — consensus-oriented cultures in world, whereas communication in Finland is relatively direct. I appreciate direct communication, so I find it easy to work with my Finnish colleagues, but I am happy to say that I find it easy to work with all my colleagues at Hannes Snellman no matter where they are located.

We all have been working remotely for some time now. Can you please share your top three tips for effective, yet pleasant, remote work?

For me, structure is very important. I drop my son off at school every morning and then go back home, pour myself a coffee, put on some music, and make a to-do list for the day. This routine may seem simple, but it works for me. Working from home is about staying motivated and focused. It is often the small things that keep us on track and decrease stress. I also find it really helpful to check in with colleagues to talk about projects in order to stay focused and motivated. So I would say that have your own daily routine/structure, check in with colleagues frequently, and try not to pressure yourself to accomplish more work than is necessary on any given day.

Based on your experiences, would you recommend a remote secondment? If so, why?

As with any situation, there are pros and cons. It is always nice to be able to socialise in person or to experience a new place during relocation. I really enjoyed my secondment in Helsinki a few years ago, for example. But a virtual secondment opens up new avenues for socialising in the digital world, which is the way of the future, and I find that very interesting. For example, doing a secondment remotely makes it very easy to participate in the activities of both offices — I am currently working in Helsinki but can still join events in Stockholm, like the upcoming Competition Law Nordic Conference in Stockholm on 23 and 24 March, where I am moderating an interactive roundtable discussion. I would definitely recommend a remote secondment.

 

FAVOURITE | Way of Commuting Roslagsbanan Book The best book I’ve read recently was Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson Lunch Italian Podcast BBC’s In Our Time Work Equipment Laptop Afternoon Routine Coffee break Mobile Application Spotify Relaxation Method Listening to music Work Outfit Casual clothes Power song Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger by Daft Punk Website Bukowskis Social Media Channel Instagram Drink Espresso Weekday Friday Leisure Activity Taking my son to swimming school

 

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