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Castrén & Snellman, Finland’s oldest law firm at 122 years, likes to think of itself as a firm of principles.
In 2008 and 2009 every employee was invited to help create a set of values that would guide members of the practice. These values emerged as confidence, respect, productive balance and something the firm calls ‘the spark’ (read ‘creative ambition’).
Such things, of course, are virtually impossible to measure. But there is every reason to believe Castrén has balanced values with success. The firm’s revenue dropped by only 2 per cent last year, to e29.9m (£25.9m), which head of M&A Jan Örndahl attributes to the firm’s “capacity to take part in the most complicated M&A transactions, while also having a full-service capability to fall back on”.
In 2009 Castrén’s top deals included advising M-real on the divestment of a pulp mill and forests to UPM-Kymmene in a deal worth e1.6bn.
The firm is also adding five more lawyers (three male and two female) to the partnership - one that boasts the highest number of women in Finland with almost 30 per cent (eight out of 28).
“Our values are very important to us,” claims Örndahl, “but with our female partners, there was no conscious policy. It just so happened that we had very competent females lawyers.”
“We try to make the firm a good place to work and that really helps recruiting,” adds Juha Koponen, one of the firm’s new corporate lawyers. “Younger lawyers today want to have more balance.”
It appears the firm has found that balance. In April 2009, Castrén emerged as the most popular firm among Finnish law students.
Although the firm is full service, all five of the new partners are transactional lawyers; four in the flagship Helsinki office and one in St Petersburg (the firm opened in Russia in 1994 to assist Nordic clients investing in the region).
Managing director:Jukka Niemi
Turnover: e29.9m (£25.9m)
Number of partners:28
Number of equity partners:27
Number of lawyers:102
Number of fee-earners:116
Number of offices:Three
Locations: Helsinki, Moscow, St Petersburg
Main practice areas:Corporate, construction and projects, dispute resolution, employment, insolvency, IP/IT
Clients: Citigroup, JPMorganChase, M-real, RBS and Nordea