Partner Heidi Paalanen-Koev

Russia Expertise Always in Demand

In 1997, Heidi Paalanen-Koev, a law student at the University of Helsinki, made an unusual choice: she decided to pursue postgraduate studies at the St Petersburg State University. Russia was not a popular destination for prospective lawyers in Finland at the time. This decision would end up having a decisive impact on Heidi’s career. Her knowledge of Russian language, culture and law came to be in high demand. Today, Heidi is Castrén & Snellman’s partner in charge of the firm’s Russian operations.

‘I was not originally recruited for Russia-related work, which people continually reminded me of during my first year here. However, Russian skills are so rare among Finnish lawyers of my generation that it inevitably steered the course my career. I don’t mind, because our Russia-related assignments are immensely interesting. I love my work at C&S!’

Over the years, Heidi has handled several cross-border mergers and acquisitions. She has come to know M&A law through and through, but each client is different. This brings spice to lawyer’s work, ensuring that there is always a suitable dose of variation and challenge.

‘Even if you know something inside out, you have to keep in mind that your client may not have heard of it before. In other words, you need to be able to adjust your way of working and communicating to be in sync each client. Meetings with different clients breathe new life into everyday work.’

Heidi is a bubbly personality who speaks and laughs a lot. For her, one of Castrén & Snellman’s best assets is that everyone can be themselves.

‘Accepting difference is our strength. Lawyers can be quite a homogenous group, and I’ve been regarded as something of a bohemian by other lawyers. At C&S, I’m free to be myself, because we don’t expect everyone to be cast in the same mould. Let every flower bloom, as the Finnish saying goes.’

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