Greetings from Alumni: Tiina Kerttula, Senior Legal Counsel, Alma Media Corporation
18 February 2021
This time around in our Greetings from Alumni series, we interviewed our alumna Tiina Kerttula, who works as a senior legal counsel at Alma Media Corporation. During her time at Hannes Snellman, from 2006 to 2011, Tiina worked as a senior associate in our M&A Team.
Hi Tiina, how has 2021 started off for you?
Quite well, thank you. Busy at work (as always). I have tried to make the most of this ‘new normal’ during the pandemic, meaning that I have done remote work also from our second home in Northern Finland. A couple of times a week, I use the time between the different Teams meetings by going for a walk or by skiing in the daylight. This is the kind of luxury that I didn’t have when I was working at the office! As many of us, I am a little bored since it feels like every day is the same, and most of the fun activities are prohibited. But I guess I am one of the lucky ones since I am still able to enjoy my main hobby, i.e. horses, without major restrictions.
You now work in a dynamic multi-channel media company. Could you tell us a little bit about your work at Alma Media?
My work is an interesting combination of different areas of law. To name a few, I work with contracts, corporate issues, M&A, consumer protection, IPRs and, of course, data protection topics. I understand my limits, and I have excluded certain fields of business law, such as tax questions, from my repertoire of services. I also participate in the work of several different interest groups, bringing forth the viewpoint of the Finnish media industry.
The media industry has been in a turmoil in the recent years. How has this been reflected in the work of a lawyer?
When I started at Alma, the main part of the business consisted of traditional newspapers. Media industry started to digitalise before the mainstream, and at the moment, more than half of Alma’s turnover comes from digital services. The number of digital services and different brands is growing all the time as a result of the continuing M&A activities. The range of services is wide, from dating websites to Suomen Laki book. This means a lot of work for us lawyers. Although the business is digitalising, certain core principles can still be found in our work, for example our role as supporters of freedom of speech.
During your time at Hannes, you worked as an associate and senior associate. What was the most valuable learning you took with you when you moved forward from Hannes?
I think working at a large law firm is one of the best ways to start off your career as a lawyer. A certain level of quality is expected there, and you learn to respect deadlines. These will help you later on in your career, no matter where you work. I can usually tell from the way someone drafts a contract whether that person has a background in a law firm or not. Although for most of the time at Hannes Snellman I worked in the M&A Group, I also had an opportunity to work in the Dispute Resolution Group. I also did an 18-month secondment at Siemens Osakeyhtiö. With this background, it was easy to start working as a generalist lawyer.
What career advice would you now give to yourself if this was your first day at a law firm?
Remember the saying “Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans”. My first experience was actually a traineeship at another large law firm. As a result, I was convinced that a large law firm would not be a place for me after my graduation. Everything seemed to be so dead serious. After that, I studied in Australia and absolutely fell in love with the country. My plan was to finish off my studies in Finland and to return to Australia to work at the Finnish embassy (or other low salary job that I could get). I returned to Finland and in order to recover financially from my travels I worked at Hannes Snellman’s Turku office for a summer. However, that experience changed my mind about law firms. I graduated a few months later and joined Hannes Snellman’s Helsinki office.
What areas of law does a media lawyer work with the most in 2021: privacy matters, cookies and data questions, or marketing law? Or are there some other hot topics in the industry?
Privacy matters are here to stay. E-privacy regulation finally seems to be taking steps forward, which is a good thing. There has been too much uncertainty related to cookies, for example.
Data questions are interesting. To understand them, it is necessary to learn the technical side of things as well. I am the opposite of a technically advanced person. Our company encourages everyone to study things like AI. I don’t love it, but I do my best.
Our main competitors in advertising for example are nowadays global giants. This, of course, has an effect on the contract negotiations with different parties. It is interesting to see how different market practices change as a result of it.