Get to Know Us | Malin Männikkö, Law Student Trainee, Stockholm
29 May 2020
How did you end up as a law student trainee at Hannes Snellman?
I ended up as a law student trainee at Hannes Snellman after attending, by coincidence, the after banquette of Juristdagarna back in October 2019. At Juristdagarna, I had been on the look-out for exciting challenges where I could combine by passion for law and technology and really gain some practical skills in the field. At the banquette, I was placed, again by pure luck, next to the whole Hannes Snellman team and felt like I already belonged. I guess they felt the same way because a few weeks later I got an interview and later the offer to join the absolute dream team IP&Tech for the full spring semester. I really had not anticipated to be offered the traineeship, so when they asked if I would like to stay for the whole spring, I was very surprised but extremely happy to have been offered this opportunity. The answer was naturally yes, and so I spent the spring semester 2020 at Hannes Snellman.
What was your first impression of Hannes Snellman?
My very first impression of Hannes Snellman is from years ago when I thought “yet another Finnish firm” upon hearing about the firm and its other office in Finland – a notion that was quickly changed after spending some time with the people at Hannes. My first impression of the actual work environment, the office, the people, and the work itself was that here is a place where I will be challenged and where I get to challenge myself, allowing me to put my legal knowledge and problem-solving abilities to the test.
Tell us a little bit about your time here as a law student trainee.
At Hannes Snellman, I have worked in the IP&Tech team, which has been one of the greatest professional joys of my career. The position has really allowed me to see the practice and law from the inside and taught me valuable lessons that I will carry with me going forward. In my role, I have been challenged with tasks I had no idea even fell under the IP umbrella and with tasks that definitely should not fall under it but that we picked up anyway (hello tax law, we meet again). The tasks and topics have therefore varied a lot during my trainee period. Anything from translations to advice drafts and client meetings have been on my weekly agenda. During my time at Hannes Snellman, I have also had the opportunity to work with the innovation team. The innovation team at Hannes is responsible for, for example, trying out new legal tech tools and finding out where the pain points within the firm lie. I have had regular catch ups with the Swedish lead to discuss innovation, law and technology, and design. It has been a great exchange of ideas and thoughts and a way for me to share my passion for legal tech with other professionals.
The team has been the most important part of my day-to-day life at Hannes Snellman, and from day one it has really felt like I was a natural part of it. The team is only as strong as its weakest member, and it really shows that Elisabeth Vestin and the rest of the IP&Tech team understand this on a fundamental level. Everything I have wanted to learn, I have asked to be taught and someone has showed me where to look while granting me a great deal of independence and space to figure things out on my own too. The combination of all of these has made my time at Hannes Snellman truly rewarding.
Obviously, COVID-19 posed its challenges and offered some interesting legal problems that none of us could have anticipated. In addition, working remotely has been a challenge in itself. All in all, we spent about half of the trainee period working remotely from our homes and staying in touch with the team and other colleagues through MS Teams. It has been a strange time for all of us and a lot of the classic parts of being a trainee, like after-works and student events, were not a part of my trainee experience. Instead, it has entailed a lot of video and telephone conferences, back-and-forth messaging, email conversations, and adaptation to a new way of doing legal work. It may not have been your average traineeship but it is a different experience, and even if it has been a challenging one, there are several lessons to be learned. The most important one is that any work, really, can be very rewarding even remotely if you are familiar with the tools at hand, the mute button in Microsoft Teams just to mention one! A good reminder for all of us is to familiarise ourselves with the tools that are out there and their best use cases to make work better when circumstances change.
What has been the best and what has been the most challenging part of working as a trainee?
The absolute best part has been the opportunity to work with the brilliant minds of the IP&Tech team. Imagine getting to be on the tour bus of your favourite band through their European tour, but not only that; the members teach you how to play guitar too! That is what working with the IP&Tech team has been for me; the first steps into becoming a (legal) rock star. Together we have worked with big and smaller international brands, which has left me in awe of these professionals and their vast knowledge of the scattered field that is IP and tech. Of course, a journey like this comes with its challenges, COVID-19 not to say the least. The most challenging part has been learning to decode instructions for assignments and getting familiar with and using legal language. Sometimes an assignment can change ten times during a work day and you just have to roll with it, which can be frustrating from time to time. Ultimately, those challenges are what prepares you for the future work life, and this trainee period in particular has given me valuable and unique insights into how a firm and the law operates during a crisis.