News & Views

Greetings from Alumni: Antti Heikinheimo

29 January 2020

We interviewed our alumnus, Laamanni (Lagman) Antti Heikinheimo, who at the beginning of 2017 moved to the District Court of Espoo to become a district judge focusing exclusively on mediation after 35 years at Hannes Snellman. At Hannes Snellman, Antti worked as an associate lawyer from 1982 and as a dispute resolution partner from 1988 to 2015. From 2000 to 2004, Antti acted as the managing partner of the firm. He was also responsible for the firm’s pro bono work for several years.

How are you, Antti?

I am fine, thanks for asking. For the past three years, I have concentrated exactly on the things I like to do, namely mediation, meditation, and apple gardening.

My mediation practice, both private and the court-annexed, has been educative, challenging, and interesting in many ways. I feel that as a mediator I can utilise everything that I have gathered over the years. Moreover, I feel that the work as a mediator is meaningful. Which is exactly what I felt when I was working at Hannes Snellman. Since my position in the court is part-time, now I also have time for other things, such as my yoga practice and apple gardening. Moreover, I enjoy spending time with my grandchildren.

What was your very first day at Hannes Snellman like in 1982?

The reception I got was warm. As a Finnish-speaker it was exciting to join a Swedish-speaking firm that focused on corporate law. At the time, Hannes Snellman had some 14 employees, seven of whom were lawyers.

I did not have a clear vision of the work of a young lawyer. In the 1980s, we still handled matters of the owners of our client corporations, and young lawyers were the ones who took care of these matters. This brought a certain sense of comprehensiveness to the job. 

Finland was very a different society at the time. Its economy was very much based on licences and clearly it was not the market economy it is today. Many things required a licence and a big part of young lawyers’ job at Hannes Snellman was to apply for different licences. For example, you had to apply for a licence from the Bank of Finland to be able to import equity and a licence from the Ministry of Trade and Industry for the non-Finnish companies to establish a limited company in Finland. These were routine tasks that junior lawyers took care of. In the 1980s, many international companies established subsidiaries in Finland, and Hannes Snellman acted as a counsel to many of these corporations.

What was in your mind on your last day at Hannes Snellman?

I felt gratitude towards the firm and all the people I had had the privilege to work with. I was also thinking about how much the firm had grown over the years. Naturally, as there are almost 300 employees now, the atmosphere is not as intimate as back then. However, the culture of the firm is still the same. The world is more complicated, the number of decrees has multiplied and become more sophisticated. In the 1980s, you could be successful by mastering three books: Suomen laki 1 and 2 and the phone catalogue. The scale of knowledge has become much deeper and wider. Action must be taken without delay, and sophisticated questions must be answered right away. The need for specialisation is significant, while in the past you could be successful as a generalist.

The civil proceedings reform in the early 1990s affected my job greatly. The court proceedings became much more sophisticated. Even though everything is faster, bigger, and more complicated these days, the basis of being an attorney has remained the same. It is essential to remember that this is a service profession, the cornerstone of which is trust. The relationship with client, serving the client, knowledge, and the trust are the basis of everything. These things have not changed and will not change. Instead, the requirements of being an attorney have, to some extent, changed. The way of communication has also changed; it happens more and more often via email and in other digital channels.

What kinds of tips would you give to a lawyer starting their career now?

Take time to enhance your self-knowledge and try to develop yourself as a generalist and as a human being. Think hard about what you really want from your life and why. Don’t be afraid of your insecurities. Life will work itself out. You will discover yourself and the things that really matter to you. It is good to listen to your intuition. Try to forget about the external pressure and expectations on what someone else would like things to look like for you. It is often not easy to know what you want or to find your own place. But it pays off to give time to these considerations. The world can be demanding sometimes. It would be great if you could find the anchor within yourself and your true values.

We want to thank Antti for the interview and for the delicious organic Afrodita apples that we get to enjoy in our Café Courtyard.

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