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Deloitte

Susanna Tiihonen, Head of Deloitte Legal, Finland

Susanna Tiihonen, Head of Deloitte Legal in Finland, explains how the firm is adapting to clients’ changing needs

What do you see as the main points that differentiate Deloitte Legal in the Baltics from your competitors?

First of all, we are commercially-minded legal professionals. We think not only like lawyers, but like business people - seeking to understand our client’s situation and challenges comprehensively. This approach enables us to provide pioneering, yet pragmatic legal advice to our clients and to help them make empowered decisions that support their business.

Secondly, we in Deloitte Legal are a single point of contact for our client’s legal needs worldwide. We are strong legal experts locally, but on top of that, we can provide our extensive network of specialized expertise for the use and benefit of our clients also globally. We can say that one relationship provides endless connections to our clients as Deloitte Legal consist of more than 2,400 legal professionals operating in over 80 countries worldwide.

As a third main differentiator I would underline Deloitte Legal’s close collaboration with other Deloitte professionals. This close and constant co-operation with our market leading financial, tax and consulting practices offers considerable synergies to our clients compared especially to traditional law firms. In addition, we at Deloitte make investments in digitalized and technology driven legal services that are clearly beyond what traditional legal service providers do.

Which practices do you see growing in the next 12 months? What are the drivers behind that?

M&A advisory services related market has been very active especially during the past year. M&A legal services will be in our strong focus also in the future, especially due to the strengthened collaboration with our financial and tax colleagues, via which collaboration we will be able to provide all-inclusive M&A service for our clients.

We have seen steady increase also in employment and corporate legal services related demand, and we expect to see even higher volumes of these services in the coming years. We believe that the main driver behind our growth in these fields is an increased awareness of our strong employment legal skills, global scale as well as our very successful corporate legal projects especially relating to corporate restructuring and cross-border mergers.

Also the regulatory and compliance work has shown strong growth signals already for some while, and this tendency is expected to continue mainly because of increased pace of regulatory environmental related changes. It can be clearly seen that as the business world is becoming more global, interconnected and complex than ever before, clients will face an increased need of regulatory and compliance related legal assistance.

What's the main change you've made in the firm that will benefit clients?

We have seen clearly increased market demand, not only for traditional legal advice and services, but also for new ways of supporting our clients to overcome their business related legal and regulatory challenges, both on local as well as on global market - especially in the fields of M&A, corporate, commercial and employment law.

Thus, we have answered to this market demand by expanding our local legal team especially around the above-referred skills to serve our clients even better and faster than before. We have doubled the size of our local legal team during the past two years by strengthening the team with a combination of newly graduated lawyers as well as with experienced lawyers from highly regarded law firms and in-house legal departments. As our legal services have huge synergies with the other services Deloitte is providing, we have also focused on making sure we provide our clients with these integrated offerings. We are well prepared on meeting changing market environment with the strongest team possible, with having emphasis on providing value-adding solutions for our clients.

Is technology changing the way you interact with your clients, and the services you can provide them?

New technologies are clearly having an impact on the way we interact with our clients. There are obvious benefits of technology for legal and the business in the form of e.g. better risk management, increased efficiency through lower cost and time saved, reduction in human error and avoidance of penalties by meeting filing deadlines. Furthermore, with regard to regulatory obligations, compliance is traceable, trackable and auditable to demonstrate a robust compliance framework. Accordingly, also in-house legal teams are adopting new technology to enable transformation, maximize efficiency, and free up lawyers’ time to work more closely to the business as a trusted business partner - and our aim is to assist them in implementing the right solutions. Deloitte is well positioned to answer this trend, given its capability to invest in such services with its global legal scale.

Can you give us a practical example of how you have helped a client to add value to their business?

When we talk e.g. about General Counsels and in-house legal teams as a clientele, they are under a strong business pressure. The companies need their in-house legal teams to keep pace with the commercial needs of the business - while at the same time legal departments are increasingly being asked to do more with the same or fewer resources. We clearly see the in-house legal teams facing multiple challenges: fast changes in regulatory environment, continuing globalization of business and acceleration of technology advancements. This is leading to an increased complexity and an unsustainable workload for in-house legal teams, who need to rethink their operating model, achieve greater efficiencies and increase the value they deliver back to the business. To help the General Counsels and in-house legal teams to overcome these challenges, we have created a new legal service offering called Legal Management Consulting (LMC). This service offering is developed for lawyers by lawyers, in cooperation with other relevant experts, containing a collection of models, frameworks and systems to help General Counsels and in-house lawyers run their departments more efficiently and meet the needs of their business more comprehensively and to transform their operating model to a desired state.

Are clients looking for stability and strategic direction from their law firms - where do you see the firm in three years’ time?

Most clients appreciate stability and strategic direction from their legal service provider to support them in navigating and negotiating a whole spectrum of risks and opportunities relating to their businesses. In a complex and changing world, the clients need a reliable partner who is always there for them and deeply invests in helping them to meet their goals. We aim to answer this need of our clients and don’t just work for them, but with them. We carefully listen to our clients’ challenges and then focus on developing solutions that will contribute the most value to them. Working together, in real time, we explore ideas, review best practices and identify plans that make sense for our clients and their business. This is our way to contribute to our client’s need and to make them an impact that matters – and this is an approach that we continue to focus on also in the future.

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