Get to Know Us | Saara Ludvigsen, Senior Associate, Dispute Resolution
4 February 2021
We interviewed Saara Ludvigsen, who works as a senior associate in our Dispute Resolution Practice in Stockholm. Saara mainly works with matters relating to commercial disputes, advising clients on general contract law and commercial risk assessments, and acts as counsel in domestic and international arbitration as well as domestic commercial litigation. Saara also works in complex public procurement projects advising clients in the stages before, during and after public procurements.
You work in Hannes’s Dispute Resolution Team. Can you tell us what is included in your “normal” working day?
I must preface this by saying that my concept of a “normal” working day has changed radically over the past year, as is the case with most people. I have been working pretty much exclusively from home since March 2020, which I never could have imagined would work as well as it has. I do miss the social parts of office life, though.
The components included in most of my working days are the following: reading a lot (material pertaining to cases, counterparty submissions, legal literature etc.), writing a lot (drafting submissions, compiling analyses etc.), discussing cases and issues with colleagues and clients, and quite a lot of emailing. Since I have also worked with public procurement lately, there has been quite a lot of contract drafting, too. Most days also include social interaction of some kind with my colleagues, who are such a fun bunch of people. We are really lucky in that respect, we have a lot of fun together.
I should also mention that in my experience it can be easier to plan one’s own daily schedule when working in dispute resolution, as compared to, for instance, transactions. Oftentimes, our projects allow for more planning in general, and they tend to span over a greater period of time.
You have studied law both in Helsinki and Stockholm. Can you tell us a bit more about this combination?
My decision to study in Helsinki was initially a question of identity. I was born and raised in Sweden but I am of Finnish descent on my mother’s side, which makes me a so-called Sweden Finn. I went to a Sweden Finnish school in Stockholm, I engage in Finnish cultural activities, and I just feel very Finnish in general – but I had never actually lived in Finland. So, to cure this “dissonance” and to create a bond of my own with Finland, I felt that a stay in Helsinki as an exchange student would be perfect.
Another reason that made me happy to choose Helsinki was that I wanted to try university studies in Finland, a country renowned for its educational system. I spent my first nine school years at a school with lots of Finnish influence (albeit located in Sweden), and my experiences of elementary school differed quite a lot from those of my Swedish friends. I did indeed find that the studies at the Helsinki Oikis had a different style as compared to Stockholm’s Juridicum. In Helsinki, I found there to be more focus on showing that you had acquired certain knowledge from the course material, while in Stockholm, the focus was more on showing that you had learned a certain method and a certain way of reasoning. I suppose that these things are two sides of the same coin, as both of them are prerequisites for the other to function well and both skills are essential for a lawyer. (Then again, I do not know how representative my experience was, as I only stayed in Helsinki for one semester.)
In conclusion: I loved my experience in Helsinki, and I would recommend it to anyone.
In addition to daily assignment work, taking care of client relations is an important part of lawyers’ tasks. Can you share some examples of the kind of client relation activities you enjoy doing the most?
Pretty much anything allowing you to connect with and engage people, especially in an easy-going manner, is an ideal activity in my opinion. It can be anything from a lunch to a lecture.
My favourite would probably have to be the annual Top Ten Lectures that we arrange for clients in Stockholm. It is a fun concept, where we choose the ten most significant (in our view, at least) legal precedents of the past year by means of Eurovision Song Contest style voting. After this, the winning contributions are compiled into an entertaining (again – in our view) presentation, which is then presented to our clients’ legal teams over a lunch or an afternoon fika or the like. It is a great way to connect with people in a laid-back setting, and it gives those of us who are so inclined an opportunity to indulge in quite nerdy legal discussions. It also often provides valuable insights into the kinds of issues our clients are facing at the moment.
You will be moderating a panel discussion on Hannes Snellman’s first ever virtual Nordic General Counsel Summit, the “NGCS En Route”, on 5 February 2021. In the panel, Nina Kiviranta from Metso Outotec, Dag Rehme from If P&C Insurance Holding, and Caroline Rifall from SEB Investment Management are sharing their experiences and learnings from 2020 and the best practices for 2021 and beyond. Please give us a sneak peek of what you are going to ask these experienced professionals.
I suppose it is not too much of a spoiler to reveal that the extraordinary nature of the year we have behind us will have an impact on the discussion. Our panellists have in common that they all head large legal teams in multinational organisations, but those teams and organisations are still very different from each other. How did last year’s challenges impact a team if the team was a well-established one, a brand new one, or a sort of hybrid version of the two – and can that teach us something about what is to come? I personally don’t know, but those of us who participate in and listen to the panel discussion just might learn something about that.
Lastly, what has been the highlight of your career at Hannes?
Well, this was rather difficult to answer. Work-wise, I suppose it could be a rather drawn-out highlight, namely the opportunity to manage a long-lasting project in which the intense client co-operation has made it feel like the members of the client’s team were more than “just clients”. They have been our temporary colleagues, and it has been so much fun even though, or maybe because, there have been some legal difficulties to tackle along the way.
Another thing that I will always remember, even though it is not career-related as such, is from my first week at Hannes: I went to get some coffee and was astonished by the sheer number of different types of milk I could choose from. Mere days before joining Hannes, I had been working at a district court, where those of us who wanted milk in our coffee had to buy it ourselves (and had to protect it from would-be milk thieves by various threats written on the milk cartons). It was such a stark contrast and, for me, it came to symbolise the differences between these two types of workplaces.
FAVOURITE | Way of Commuting Walking Book Impossible to choose one Lunch Asian fusion Podcast Historiepodden Work Equipment Height-adjustable desk Afternoon Routine Walk, nap, or coffee Mobile Application LibreLink (to manage my type 1 diabetes) Relaxation Method Meditation or wine Work Outfit A mid-century inspired dress Power Song Låt dom komma by Kent Website Home remodelling sites Social Media Channel Instagram (to peep vintage dresses!) Drink At the moment – Kaffe Karlsson Weekday Friday Leisure Activity Reading or singing