Experiences from Hannes Snellman and Nordea’s Joint Trainee Programme | October 2021
27 October 2021
Saman Saama is a fourth-year law student at the University of Helsinki and a third-year finance student at Aalto University School of Business. Saman spent a total of five months in a joint trainee programme arranged by Hannes Snellman and Nordea. The purpose of this trainee programme is to offer students the possibility to experience what it would be like to work both as a lawyer in a law firm and as an in-house lawyer in the largest bank in the Nordic countries.
At Hannes Snellman, Saman worked in the Finance Team, and at Nordea, he worked in the Large Corporates & Institutions Legal (LC&IL) Team.
Why are you interested in financial law in particular? When did your fascination begin?
Through my finance studies at Aalto, I grew a strong interest in understanding the financial markets at a more in-depth level. Combining this interest with my law studies naturally led me to become interested in financial law.
How was your traineeship at Hannes Snellman?
I truly enjoyed my traineeship in the Finance Team at Hannes. I was given challenging tasks and enough responsibility, but I also received sufficient help when it was needed. As a result, the learning curve was quite optimal. It also made me glad that despite the COVID-19 restrictions, we were able to organise some after work activities with the other trainees, and I even managed to participate and assist in the Summer School event.
How did your time as an associate trainee at Hannes Snellman prepare you for your traineeship at Nordea?
My traineeship at Hannes allowed me to build a solid foundation in financing transactions and financial regulation, which I could then further hone at Nordea. I learned a ton about how to draft and review financing documentation, how to conduct legal research into financial law efficiently, and how to communicate and think precisely. I was able to learn so much from the Finance Team at Hannes, and they were truly eager to help as much as possible. All of this allowed me to succeed at Nordea and assist the counsel at Nordea immediately upon arriving there.
What kind of perceptions did you have about working in a bank beforehand?
I initially had a feeling that the work and assignments at Nordea would strongly differ from what I did at Hannes Snellman and feared that everything would be completely new. However, I was glad to notice that while the tasks did differ to some degree, the core nature and content of the work was the same and, as a result, I was still able to leverage what I had learned at Hannes.
Could you describe your assignments at Nordea?
I assisted in drafting and reviewing financing documentation such as release letters, non-disclosure agreements, escrow agreements, waivers, and amendment agreements. In addition, I did legal research into the Securities Markets Act, special common funds, and recent regulatory developments regarding prospectuses in the EU.
What did you learn during your time at Nordea? Any surprises?
On a general level, I was able to learn about financing transactions from a much broader perspective. In financing transactions, banks are typically active during a much longer time frame compared to law firms. Thanks to this, I was able to learn about new and different types of matters such as what clauses in a non-disclosure agreement are in the best interests of a bank or how to deal with a situation where a financial covenant has been broken.
Furthermore, it was fascinating to learn about the legal work around derivatives and cash management, which I had not come across during my time at Hannes. Some assignments also included communicating with various groups within Nordea, which taught me about the structure of Nordea as well as how different departments function with respect to each other.
How did you find the combination of these two traineeships?
Both traineeships form a good match, as they both include working on similar legal questions but from a different perspective. This allows you to get a more overarching view of what a finance lawyer’s work includes and to hone your skills even further. Above all, it allows you to familiarise yourself with what it would be like to work in a law firm or a bank’s in-house legal team at the same time.
It is also interesting to note that a common pathway towards becoming a finance in-house counsel often involves obtaining valuable experience in a law firm first and then transitioning to a bank’s in-house legal team. For this same reason, the combination of these two traineeships works quite well, and I am truly grateful for having been able to participate in this unique programme.
What would you say to applicants applying to our associate trainee programme who also wish to continue at Nordea?
I would personally suggest two things to keep in mind. First, try to learn as much as possible during the four-month period at Hannes Snellman, as this will allow you to succeed better both at Nordea and Hannes Snellman. Second, realise that your traineeship at Nordea will only last four weeks and it will be over in a blink of an eye. Therefore, you should try to do and learn as much as possible during that period. Ask as many questions as you can, and not just regarding specific tasks but also about the various things the lawyers at Nordea do.