International report: Procopé & Hornborg

Procopé & Hornborg, one of Finland’s oldest firms, has just hired its first UK-qualified partner. In fact, not only is Andrew Cotton Procopé’s first UK-qualified solicitor, he is the only one currently practising in Finland.

Managing partner:

Ismo Hentula
Turnover: €4m (£2.8m)
Total number of lawyers: 20
Total number of partners: Six
Main practice areas: Corporate, commercial
Key clients: Bauhaus, Compass Group, First Hop, Ford, Global Refund Finland, Goldfields, Johnson Matthey
Number of offices: One
Location: Helsinki

Procopé & Hornborg, one of Finland’s oldest firms, has just hired its first UK-qualified partner. In fact, not only is Andrew Cotton Procopé’s first UK-qualified solicitor, he is the only one currently practising in Finland.

Indeed, there are only two other registered foreign lawyers in the whole of Finland, so you could say the firm has something of a niche.

Cotton joined the Finnish firm last October. Although his recruitment coincided with that of another partner, IP specialist Risto Kurki-Suonio, it does not signal a hiring spree by the telecoms and technology boutique.

“We’re a small firm with ‘big firm’ clients but plan to stay relatively small in terms of numbers,” says Cotton. “We’d say we have a ceiling of around 30-35 lawyers. We don’t want to change our ethos.”

That ethos, as for most boutiques, is very much focused on partner involvement with the firm’s clients. But although the firm is small, its client base is notable for its international flavour. Procopé, established in 1917, has advised several of its clients on Finnish business for almost 50 years and has acted for others in the UK for almost as long.

Many of its clients are in the telecoms market, although it does not act for Finland’s most famous telecoms business Nokia. But the solid base of corporates also includes some other well-known international names, including US car manufacturer Ford, global catering group Compass and global mining corporation Goldfields.

Cotton, a corporate and telecoms partner, previously worked at Etheringtons in Bath along with telecoms specialist Victoria Russell. The pair left Etheringtons to set up the technology, media and telecoms practice at City outfit Hextalls in 2002, but Russell joined namesake Charles Russell earlier this year, as revealed on www.thelawyer.com (4 January). By that stage, Cotton had married a Finn and, when the opportunity to work in the fast-growing Baltic market came up, he jumped at it.

“The market has definitely picked up since the quiet times after 2000 and the fact the firm already advises UK and US companies means there’s plenty of scope for me to use my experience,” Cotton says. “I also liked the fact that the firm was ambitious in terms of its growth strategy without simply deciding to grow in terms of numbers.”

Procopé’s other major recent hire, Kurki-Suonio, also joined in the autumn of 2005. A former trademark agent for Papula Patent Attorneys (now Papula Nevinpat), he also worked in the IP team at Helsinki firm Dittmar & Indrenius before founding his own firm in 1992.