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Calling all lawyers: If you’ve got a solid knowledge of intellectual property, telecommunications, and transactional matters, the Scandinavian legal market wants you. Now. Demand is high for experienced attorneys, and has accelerated even within the last six months, for one main reason: Telecom companies like Nokia Corporation and Sonera Corporation in Finland, together with LM Ericsson in Sweden, are keeping lawyers very busy. “The biggest challenge at the moment is to recruit and retain talent,” says Tomas Lindholm, managing partner of Finland’s largest firm, 80-lawyer Roschier-Holmberg & Waselius. “It’s a bigger challenge than getting assignments for legal work.” Roschier-Holmberg is Nokia’s lead outside counsel in Finland. After Finland became the first Scandinavian country to deregulate in the telecommunications sector in 1993, the industry’s growth took off. “Finland came into the forefront in terms of technology and … mobile [phone] penetration,” Lindholm says. The country’s tech explosion parallels the U.S. boom in Silicon Valley, with a high number of start-ups and venture capitalists ready to invest. At the center of it all is Nokia. “Currently in Finland, you have a Nokia sphere of influence,” says Petri Haussila, a native Finn and head of the Helsinki office of White & Case. “A lot of interesting companies are either partners to Nokia or have developed in areas of Finland where it relates to the growth of Nokia.” A similar scenario holds true for Sweden, Haussila says. There, Ericsson strikes deals with subcontractors and smaller companies that work as their partners in m-commerce content development for cellular phones — services like providing stock quotes, trading over the Internet, and listening to music off the Web. Traditionally, Helsinki’s role in the region was that of a seafaring center. Now that it is a high-tech telecom leader, the legal market has shifted dramatically to accommodate the changes. At Roschier-Holmberg alone, says Lindholm, a third of the firm’s attorneys “work almost exclusively on new technology in the form of IPOs or making deals involving high-tech companies.” Close competitors include the 54-lawyer Hannes Snellman firm and the 11-lawyer office of White & Case, which opened in 1993. The burgeoning telecom market makes for challenging work, says Roschier-Holmberg’s Lindholm, who is also president of the Finnish Bar Association. And because of the specialized nature of the telecom work, most active Finnish and Swedish lawyers in the field meet regularly at the business table. “To a large extent, we come across the same lawyers a lot,” says Hans Wibom, chairman of Sweden’s Advokatfirman Vinge KB. “We try to keep the others informed about the market, refer matters between each other, and try to generally get to know each other so we work better together.” More big firms have thrived in Stockholm’s diverse business environment, where the auto industry is particularly strong. Two firms in particular are notable for their caseloads and international alliances: Two hundred thirty-lawyer Advokatfirman Vinge, led by Wibom, has alliances with the largest firms in Denmark (160-lawyer Kromann Reumert) and Norway (120-lawyer Thommessen Krefting Greve Lund). Meanwhile, 220-lawyer Mannheimer Swartling, headed by Axel Calissendorff, represented Zeneca PLC in its $50 billion merger with Astra AB in the fall of 1998. Mannheimer also represented the Volvo Car Corporation when the company sold its car division to the Ford Motor Company in early 1999. Globally, Calissendorff says, his firm both competes and works with London-based firms such as Allen & Overy, Clifford Chance, and Linklaters & Alliance (which is linked with Stockholm’s Lagerlof & Leman). Elsewhere in the region, Norway and Denmark haven’t had the kind of major telecom boom that’s hit Sweden and Finland. Instead, the biotech and related pharmaceutical industries have ignited these two countries’ legal activities. And with large active shipping fleets, maritime sector work also remains strong in both countries. Norway’s front-runners in corporate, cross-border transactional work are 80-lawyer Oslo-based Bugge, Arentz-Hansen & Rasmussen (BAHR) and Oslo-based Thommessen Krefting. Similarly, in Denmark, three Copenhagen firms stand out: Kromann Reumert; Bech-Bruun & Trolle, with 60 lawyers; and 65 lawyer-Gorrissen Federspiel Kierkegaard. Rapid-fire growth in the region is sure to continue. And that means just one thing: More lawyers are needed. Says Lindholm in his most convincing voice: “It’s a great place for a young lawyer to go.”

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