News & Views

Greetings from Alumni: Emilia Uusitalo, Senior Legal Counsel at Sanoma Corporation

18 August 2021

In the first part of this autumn’s Greetings from Alumni series, we interviewed our alumna Emilia Uusitalo, who works as a senior legal counsel at Sanoma Corporation. During her time at Hannes between 2013 and 2020, Emilia worked in the positions of a trainee, associate, and senior associate. Emilia is also one of the speakers featured at Hannes Snellman’s Summer School in August.

Hi Emilia, how has your autumn started – did you have a nice summer vacation?

It has started very well, thank you. This is my second week back at the (home) office after vacation. The vacation was great, it was very relaxing to spend some time with family and friends mostly in different summer villas after a busy year at work. After the first two days of getting used to being back at work, it feels nice to be back and plan the autumn together with colleagues.

You work as a senior legal Counsel at Sanoma Corporation, one of the leading learning and media companies in Finland. Can you tell us little bit about your work and daily tasks?

In my work, every day is different (I know, what a cliché –but they really are!). As I coordinate the Sanoma Media’s legal affairs, I work with many different businesses and, hence, many different colleagues. Therefore, something unexpected pops up almost every day. Most of my tasks relate to Sanoma’s daily media business, such as drafting and negotiating agreements (mostly related to IPR, licensing, or technology), assisting the business with any legal questions they may have, coordinating legal proceedings, and following, and sometimes also lobbying, new legislation that may have an impact on Sanoma’s business. One thing I love about my work is that I learn something totally new almost every day.

Sanoma has a strong sustainability agenda, and the company works, among other things, to equip the world with the highest-quality learning resources and independent media. How are sustainability topics present in your work?

I am very happy that even though sustainability has been part of Sanoma’s internal processes for many years, it has now been structured and Sanoma has published a Sanoma Sustainability Strategy. In my work, sustainability is visible for example when making agreements and ensuring that our partners are able to accept and comply with our standards. Sanoma is committed to responsible business practices, which are also a crucial part of Sanoma Media’s compliance and governance principles and hence, something that I am responsible for monitoring and complying with as part of my work.  Sanoma’s environmental sustainability principles are mostly visible for me in our supplier agreements and also in the work of raising fact-based awareness in environmental topics by our news medias.  In my daily work, one of the most important sustainability-related topic is Sanoma’s continuous work towards promoting and maintaining trusted journalism and freedom of speech in the society. This is closely related to yet another important area of our sustainability strategy, “trustworthy data”, meaning e.g. reliable customer data and privacy practices, for which we work together with Sanoma’s privacy team.

During your time at Hannes, you worked in our IP and Technology & Data practices. What was the most valuable thing you learned during your time at Hannes?

Hannes was my first workplace after graduation, and it definitely taught me a lot. Perhaps the most important things I learned at Hannes were a certain level of precision and quality related to legal work, and naturally, good drafting skills related to agreements and other legal documents. It is also important to know when to question your own memory (which is quite often - especially regarding exact wordings in legislation). Furthermore, with regard to the questions asked by the client or the business,  it is important to think whether it is enough to simply reply to the question asked, or whether there is something more behind the question that you should know about in order to actually add value.

You are one of the speakers at Hannes’s Summer School this year. What do you expect from the event and can you give us a hint as to what you are going to share in your presentation?

I was really happy to be invited as a guest speaker to the Summer School – thanks again for that! I expect that there will be many interesting questions and discussions with the participants. My presentation is still a little bit of a work-in-progress, but on top of talking about my current work, I plan to discuss the differences between the work of an inhouse lawyer and a law firm lawyer – for example in an IP-intensive M&A transaction process.

Lastly, what advice would you give yourself on your first day at a law firm?

You now have a great vantage point to the private legal sector. Be humble, watch and learn from your colleagues, participate in many different events and projects bravely (there are a lot of possibilities in a big law firm such as Hannes), learn, and also take interest in things outside your own or your team’s core expertise area. However, do not panic – everyone has had their first day, and you will make it.