Get to Know Us | Stefan Stellato, Associate, Tax, Helsinki
21 October 2019
How did you start working at Hannes Snellman?
I first started at Hannes Snellman as an associate trainee in the Tax team. At the end of my official trainee period, I remained in the team as a part-time trainee. I continued as a lawyer once I had graduated from the law school.
What is your professional background?
During my studies, I worked as a trainee at two other law firms and one company, and I worked on a relatively wide range of different legal disciplines. However, at the final stage of my studies, I wanted to focus on taxation, which had been an interest of mine ever since I started my studies. Hannes Snellman’s tax practice had a good reputation, and the office had a positive image, so I decided to apply.
In addition to the interesting and educative training periods, one of the highlights of my student life was my student exchange at the Hofstra University in New York. The university, which is located next to Manhattan, is famous for organising the electoral debates of the USA presidential candidates. What really stayed with me from my exchange period were the people, high-quality teaching, and opportunities to travel. I would recommend going on an exchange to anyone.
What have your last projects been like?
The matters in our group are very versatile, so the most recent cases have all been very different.I have been involved in transactions and incentive schemes and produced complaints, rejoinders, and memos, among other things.
What kinds of tasks belong to an associate?
An associate usually assists a team established for a specific matter. The tasks of an associate may include, for example, investigations, communication with authorities, and drafting. Drafting may include writing emails, preliminary rulings, responses to clearing requests, or memos. An associate also participates in telephone conferences, meetings, and communicates with clients by email, for instance.
In addition to handling pure tax assignments, we cooperate with other groups a lot, especially with the M&A, Finance, and Real Estate groups. Our cooperation is very diverse, and it can be anything from a brief reply to a broader conclusion. The tasks of a tax associate may include, for example, analysing the tax consequences of a transaction or compiling the taxation section of a prospectus required by securities market regulation.
What kinds of skills are required from a good tax lawyer?
There certainly are many skills that can be useful, but I think that one of the most important qualities of a good tax lawyer is having a broad understanding of taxation and the mutual links between its various aspects. In addition, it is important for a good tax lawyer to know the connections to other areas of law, such as company law and accounting law. On the other hand, a good tax lawyer knows very specific details of taxation. It is also important to keep your knowledge up to date, as tax law develops constantly.
How can cross-border collaboration and internationality be seen in your work?
The international nature of Hannes Snellman's client base and matters significantly influences my practical work. Internationality is particularly emphasised in the status and knowledge of EU tax law and tax treaty law. This affects the legal sources we use so that instead of (or in addition to) the national preparatory works, we also examine the case law of the Court of Justice of the European Union, the OECD commentaries, and articles of international researchers. Another concrete example is that a significant part of my work is done in English and other language skills are also often put into use.
What is the best part and what is the most challenging part of your work?
In my work, I particularly like the international nature of things and the broad range of tasks relating to taxation. The matters that come to our group are generally quite challenging, making them particularly interesting, educational, and rewarding. As a practical challenge, I could mention time management, as we handle several different assignments in parallel. The opportunity to delve on something like drafting a legal brief for a few hours provides a nice counterweight to this.
Do you have time for any free-time activities?
During the busiest months of the year, there can certainly be some surprises. However, there is usually plenty of time for free-time activities. Flexible working hours and remote work enable morning runs and planning for evenings, and I often attend concerts, visit the opera, or go running.
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