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Tuomas Keltto, Specialist Counsel, Wärtsilä

Alumni spotlight

Tuomas Keltto

Specialist Counsel, Wärtsilä

Helsinki-based Tuomas Keltto is an in-house lawyer with Wärtsilä, one of the firm’s energy clients. Last year Tuomas undertook a reverse secondment with Eversheds Sutherland just as London entered its first lockdown. A keen footballer, he is convinced Finland will win this year’s Euros — even if it’s the first time the country has ever qualified for the tournament.

What was it about law that attracted you?

As a kid, I wanted to be a footballer, which I have always been passionate about. As I became older, I started to think about law, which I thought would be a smarter choice, as well as being interesting. I thought that as a lawyer you have lots of opportunities either to support businesses or help normal people with normal problems.

You started off your career as a private practice lawyer, didn’t you?

Yes, that’s right. I had some student experience in law firms, but after graduating, I started straight in as a lawyer with Wärtsilä. For those who don’t know, Wärtsilä is a global leader in smart technologies and complete lifecycle solutions for the marine and energy markets.

Can you tell me a little bit about your role as specialist counsel?

I have two overlapping roles. The first is like any other business lawyer in our company. I support our marine sales people in contract negotiations, drafting contracts, handling claims and disputes with customers and suppliers, and a whole host of other things. But I also have a specialist role, focusing on software contracts, data management and, in particular, cyber security, which requires regular attention to changing laws and regulations.

Software, data and cyber issues are transforming the marine industry. I feel I can really make an impact. I can help our commercial teams in developing digital solutions and innovations for our customers, while also developing my own knowledge — adding strings to my bow, if you like.

How did the opportunity to do a secondment with Eversheds come about?

The opportunity was proposed to me and it was felt I would be a good candidate for it. And of course, I was very interested. I was placed with the London Commercial team, working under Simon Gamlin, Partner and Head of International Technology and Outsourcing.

What did you take from the experience, and how useful was it when applied to your current role?

I learned a lot about tech law and how to execute projects using different kinds of technology. Before the secondment, I didn’t have much knowledge of things like cloud-based services contracts or negotiating cyber security requirements with customers or suppliers. Now I often apply these skills I learned during my secondment in my current role.

What was it like learning under Simon’s supervision?

Simon is a fantastic human being, and really the whole team was great. They are all knowledgeable and experienced lawyers. At the same time, they are nice people, with a good sense of humour. Despite working remotely, I still felt like a valued team member.

It must have been difficult to do this secondment completely virtually, since you arrived in March?

I had first moved from Hamburg to London and was anticipating a few months there before relocating to Helsinki. After the lockdown started in London, I had to continue my journey to Helsinki sooner than expected. I’m happy that I was able to meet the team and that I got to know to them a bit during my time in London. I also enjoyed working remotely and I don’t think it disadvantaged me at all.

How would you summarise the differences between working in-house and in private practice?

In-house, you’re closer to the business, which I enjoy a lot. You’re receiving calls all the time with immediate issues to resolve. It is, however, just one business, whereas for an external lawyer, you’re working for many different businesses. That has its own attraction.

What does the future hold?

I’ve been with Wärtsilä for six years and have seen a huge amount of change, but I think that will be nothing compared with the position we’ll be in six years’ time.

Automation is taking over, and I can envisage captain-free vessels just as there will be driverless cars.

Can you tell me something funny or interesting that people might not know about you?

I worked as a cleaner for a short period of time to get some money for the law school — and to be able to party and watch football. I started as a window cleaner, but I was so terrible at it, that I was moved to cleaning offices. It was an interesting and funny experience, and I had some nice colleagues. Above all, it motivated me when I started law school.