Experiences from Hannes Snellman and Nordea’s Joint Trainee Programme | October 2023
16 November 2023
In 2020, Hannes Snellman and Nordea launched a joint trainee programme. The purpose of the programme is to offer law students the opportunity to experience what it is like to work as a lawyer not only at a law firm but also at the largest bank in the Nordic countries. In October 2023, Lari Savolainen, our former associate trainee, continued his traineeship at Nordea.
Lari is a fifth-year law student at the University of Turku, who worked as an associate trainee in our Finance Team in the summer of 2023. Lari also studies accounting and finance at Turku School of Economics. At Nordea, Lari worked in the Large Corporates & Institutions Legal (LC&IL) Team, which provides financial solutions to large Nordic and international corporations and institutional customers.
Why have you chosen financial law in particular, and when did your interest in this field begin?
I think I have always been interested in the economy since together with law they help to understand more about the society we live in. Learning more about the economy was the main reason for applying to study business alongside law. My interest in financial law began when I attended the module “Finance and Security Interests”, where I wrote my bachelor’s thesis regarding convertible bonds and their use as a collateral. The subject of my thesis was inspired by my studies at Turku School of Economics. I really enjoyed working on the thesis and wanted to see what the work of a finance lawyer is like.
What I also like about finance law is that it is national and international at the same time. The basics are covered in the national legislation, but the EU law has increased its influence over this field as well. Finance also has a huge impact in the society as every player, no matter how big or small, needs some sort of financing.
How did your time as an associate trainee at Hannes Snellman prepare you for your traineeship at Nordea?
At Hannes, you learn a great deal of valuable skills needed in any law profession, such as conducting legal research, communication with clients, managing your time, and organising your work. Those are the skills you always need!
More specifically, I think that getting familiar with the finance vocabulary plays a big part. Understanding the terms is crucial for you to be able to work with the finance documents, but seeing the finance documents themselves and understanding their purpose is also important. During my trainee period at Hannes, we had a training organised by ISDA about derivatives, which helped me later at Nordea when I worked with a loan linked ISDA.
What kind of preconceptions did you have about working at a bank before your experience at Nordea?
Generally, I think I had, and I still do have, a positive image of working at a bank. Looking back, I think I had a certain conception of banks being heavy organisations. There are plenty of lawyers working at Nordea, but everyone has their own place, and certain functions can be handled with a surprisingly small number of lawyers.
Banks play an important role in the society, and everyone is a client of a bank. That means that when you work at a bank you get to interact with many different players in the society. I think I had the preconception that banks only work with retail clients and companies, but they also work with municipalities, the state, foundations, associations, housing companies, pension funds, and so forth.
How would you describe your assignments at Nordea?
During my time at Nordea, I worked with finance-related tasks, but also more in-house-style tasks, such as reviewing contracts and drafting a memo regarding financial assistance rules in Finland. My finance law related tasks included helping draft municipal documents and amendments to loan agreements and reviewing the terms of structured products.
What did you learn during your time at Nordea? Any surprises?
The lawyers at banks also work closely with the business side and seeing that first-hand was different than working in a law firm, where your teams consist completely of legal professionals. It was quite surprising to note that working as a finance lawyer at a bank is not only working with loan contracts, but it also entails working with, for example, money market instruments, derivatives, and trade finance. Something that I also had not considered before was the array of different lawyers working at a bank. Nordea has lawyers working with corporate issues, regulatory management, and ESG matters.
At a bank, you can truly see what happens with the loan arrangements before a law firm is included in the process. I am also interested in trade finance, and learning about how financing trade between companies operating in different countries was exciting for me. From a business perspective, it was interesting to see how banking business works and how banks make their profits.
I attended very interesting trainings regarding sustainable loans, which made me realise how big of a change the ESG and sustainability are bringing to the industry. We also had another internal training regarding AI and what is happening in that field and how it is impacting banks. Listening to very experienced practitioners explain their field of expertise gives you a wider perspective of what is happening in the field of finance.
What would you say to applicants applying for our associate trainee programme who are also eager to continue at Nordea?
I really appreciate the chance to include the Nordea period as a part of my associate trainee experience. I can highly recommend the joint-traineeship because within a short period it gives you a glimpse of what it is like to work at a bank, but it also expands your network so it is a great addition to your associate trainee period.