In September 2023, Meritas, a global alliance of leading independent law firms, organised one of the most extensive exchange programmes in the alliance’s history. The programme included several law firms from the Baltic and Nordic regions. Altogether, six lawyers from six participating law firms exchanged offices for two weeks from September 18 through September 30. LEXTAL was very fortunate to have Lotta Koskela from Lexia Attorneys join us for two weeks. Ave-Ly Kõuts, as the Emerging Leaders representative from our side, made sure Lotta felt comfortable and had an exciting experience with us during her stay. Learn more about her experience from below.

Tell us about the Exchange programme – what you know about it, how it works, its purpose, and how often does it occur?

The primary purpose of the exchange programme is to strengthen the bonds between two or more Meritas firms and pave the way for future collaborations. It is an excellent opportunity for both the participating lawyer and the participating law firm to broaden their horizons and get familiar with different working cultures.

During the two-week exchange period, each participant worked from the hosting office, focusing mainly on the tasks from our home offices. Of course, the programme also provided a unique opportunity to familiarise myself with and participate in assignments in the hosting office. The hosting offices included the exchange attorneys in whatever social activities they had during our stay. I was happy to be able to attend the yearly Estonian Bar Association party, which turned out to be a great and engaging experience.

The exchange programme is supposed to become a regular thing, and the next one will take place in the spring of 2024. I can’t recommend this opportunity enough for the younger, and why not the more experienced lawyers and attorneys as well.

What were the main differences between LEXTAL and Lexia?

I believe LEXTAL and Lexia are inherently similar places to work in. People are really welcoming in both offices, and there is no hierarchy within the office, for example, between the interns and the partners. Everyone can talk to everyone as equals! One concrete and amusing difference between both offices is that in LEXTAL, whenever someone has their birthday, the entire team gathers together to hug and congratulate the birthday person with a big flower bouquet. The birthday person usually also brings in a cake or lunch to celebrate the momentous day together. It is one thing I’ll try to incorporate into our culture in Lexia.

What are your primary tasks at work?

My primary obligations at work are related to public procurement, general contract law, and corporate law. I also work with Dispute Resolution and have the permit to litigate. I manage cases and customer relations relatively independently and assist more seasoned attorneys with more significant matters they might need assistance with. All in all, my work varies, and the cases on my desk are diverse. That is both a blessing and a curse of this job.

Why do you like being an attorney?

The main thing I love about my occupation is my colleagues. I work with inspiring and like-minded people on a daily basis – what could be better?

What’s the challenging part that people don’t get to see?

One of the more challenging aspects of the job is the unpredictability of it. You can never know what will be on your desk the next day and the capacity of the workload. It is not solely a negative thing; the unpredictable nature of the work makes things interesting as well! Of course, the job can become quite intense. The stakes can be high, and we lawyers go above and beyond to get the best possible results for our valued clients.

What are the most common misconceptions people have regarding attorneys’ job?

The main misconception I’ve personally noticed is that people tend to think lawyers know the law and the whole legislation by heart. I’ve encountered this misconception with my non-lawyer friends, relatives, and clients. Whenever I get a phone call, for example, from a client with a complicated question regarding a legal field that I am not the most familiar with, it is always a sort of a struggle to try to explain to them that I am not able to give them a simple answer straight away. Of course, lawyers also know that there is rarely a simple answer. Therefore I always say as a lawyer, “it depends!”

How would you describe yourself?

I am pretty open and outgoing. I adapt to different situations and environments easily and get along with all kinds of people. That is why different exchange programmes and international opportunities have always fascinated me. Meritas exchange was indeed the third exchange I’ve done in my life.

How would you describe people at LEXTAL?

People in LEXTAL are warm and welcoming. They took time from their busy schedules to make my stay as enjoyable as possible. Also, they all get along really well and want to spend time together even outside work hours, which is always a good sign in whichever company.

Our team looks back at these last two weeks and can strongly recommend participating in this programme. We already miss having Lotta around, but we have a feeling that we will see her very soon again!