Perspectives: Hannu Mikkola, Senior Legal Consultant
Eversheds Sutherland alumnus Hannu Mikkola is a Senior Legal Consultant in Konexo Legal Resourcing, and currently on placement at a large global financial services firm. It’s the latest in many roles he’s fulfilled through Konexo in a diverse legal career. Hannu opens up about the flexibility and opportunity provided by the service.
Can you tell us about your current role?
Since I started in late April 2020 during lockdown, amazingly, I’ve only been to the office three times due to COVID restrictions. I work in the EMEA Custody Legal team of an award-winning and market-leading securities services business, and they manage the safekeeping and servicing of complex investments — backed by the strength of the firm’s balance sheet. I have a heavy workload and negotiate a wide range of specialist custody related legal agreements. On top of that, I’m also involved in regulatory projects.
Perhaps surprisingly, I only started advising on security services in 2018, and now find myself a “specialist”. But that’s on the back of 15+ years of advising on a broad range of corporate and commercial transactions (and documentation).
And your first Konexo placement was with Morgan Stanley?
Yes. In 2014, Morgan Stanley was selling their UK private wealth management business to Credit Suisse. I went in on an initial three-month assignment (on account of my M&A background) but ended up staying for 12 months. The opportunity grew even further, because after six months their Head of Legal for the wealth management business chose to leave, and that created a vacancy. I was delighted to take that opportunity, not only overseeing the final stages of the transaction but also looking after the business-as-usual wealth management legal matters.
Why has Konexo suited you?
Konexo is fantastic: they have a great team and provide access to big-ticket contract work. They try their best to ensure they retain you as their consultant and provide a flow of contracts.
I’ve been fortunate to have had many good assignments and developed wide-ranging expertise, but you need savings and personal circumstances that allow for potential gaps in-between placements.
They’ve given me the opportunity to do very high-quality work at top-tier institutions. I couldn’t be happier with how it has worked out.
What kind of skills are needed for a career in legal consultancy?
Apart from the required technical skills, you need to be adaptable and open-minded. I have a personality that is open to meeting people and adapting to change. Being a senior consultant who moves from firm to firm, potentially on a quick turnaround, it’s supremely helpful when you can start somewhere afresh and it doesn’t take long to get used to new colleagues and a different culture.
And the sooner you can get on with the work, and deliver results, the better; everything else will flow from that. Work ethic and results brings you recognition and raises your profile. Before you know it, you’ve expanded your network and potentially the scope of your initial assignment.
Do you get a buzz from starting a new challenge?
I think there’s a distinction between starting at a new company and starting a new project. As someone who began their career in insurance, then trained as a lawyer – initially qualifying into acquisition finance, then rapidly expanding into M&A and capital markets, and now working in security services – for me personally it’s that ever-changing job description which is more material than a changing work environment.
The buzz comes from the challenge of delivering on each new project.
You were previously a trainee in the Eversheds Sutherland Norwich office. What was that like?
Back in the early 2000s, Eversheds Sutherland was the leading firm in the city. The training was excellent and fundamental to me becoming a corporate lawyer. I owe a lot to working under alumnus Terry Gould (then Head of Corporate) and Andrew Croome (then Head of Banking). I also spent six months on secondment, assisting on a large client merger, which introduced me to the idea of working in-house.
It was then I learned about fantasy football and actually won the league in my first season as a trainee. I picked it up from Terry, a Norwich City supporter who luckily for me spread his love of fantasy football as part of the team building. To this day I continue to play at an elite level so must credit Terry for imparting more than just excellent legal training.
See image above - Hannu (far right) in 2003 as a trainee.
Where did you grow up?
My parents are from Finland. My father worked for the United Nations, and I was born in Colombia in South America, and also spent 16 years following my father’s various postings in Africa. I lived in Mozambique, Malawi, Kenya, Ivory Coast, and I ended up doing the International Baccalaureate at the United World College of Southern Africa in Eswatini (then called Swaziland), before coming to England in 1995 for my law degree.
I’m grateful to have so far visited all seven continents and 84 countries in my life.