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Interview Series

Mats Hellström

Hellström, Sweden

14 Dec 2020

The network provides us with reliable friends and partners in most jurisdictions that are always easily accessible.

What is new with your firm?

Back in 2015 we decided to expand our areas of expertise into Construction law, a hot practice area, particularly in the major cities of Sweden. We already had an important business in real estate and had also established a growing public procurement business, both areas often involved in big infrastructure & construction projects and we saw a market opportunity in construction law. Today our construction law team include 6 lawyers and it has been a big success for us. Through our public procurement team, we also managed to win contracts as exclusive suppliers of business law to several public entities and agencies. Typically, these public contracts are valid for 3–4 years during which time the public entity is obliged to purchase all legal services from us. This enable us, albeit at slightly reduced hourly fees, to predict work volumes and income for coming years. These contracts for governmental agencies and municipalities are particularly appreciated during Covid-19 as they provide a steady flow of work almost unaffected by any market changes.

At the end of 2019 we were optimistic for the future and we could foresee a continued expansion and healthy growth for 2020.

In March 2020 when Covid-19 hit the world we had to revise all our plans for expansion. As you know Sweden never had a complete lock down, but all business came to a halt and in March/April we saw a 10-15% decline in demand for our services. We did prepare for different scenarios including reducing the work force but fortunately they were never needed.

We had already back in 2018 implemented technical solutions enabling our lawyers to work remotely, which now was very useful. Following the public recommendations most of our staff started working from home and already by early April we could see that efficiency was back to normal.  Soon after April it was clear that demand for our services increased back to normal levels except for M&A and transaction work. Hellström has always been strong on M&A work and particularly where we represent non-Swedish investors. Here we felt a sharp decline in assignments that continued into the autumn. Now we see more positive signs from foreign investors but from low levels.

We are now starting a project involving strengthening our Real Estate and litigation teams Furthermore we are setting up a new IP legal team by lateral hires. In order to revitalise the firm and our brand name we are also launching our new website later this winter.


Which practice areas are the most in demand in your firm?

After a short downturn in April we are now back in full force on most of our business lines and we are have recruited new lawyers to the Real estate team and the Public procurement team. The litigation lawyers did not really see any slowdown during the first stages of Covid-19 and have been very busy the whole year. From my own point of view, working mostly with international investors, I am now seeing increased demand from foreign investors to set up in Sweden or/and acquiring Swedish companies.


Can you share an example of cross-border work with another Legalink member?

We have probably sent out more work that we have received through the network. Most of the work we send out relates to the other Nordic countries. I had opportunity to work with our new finish colleagues at Itainen & Ojantakanen in a pan Nordic project involving requirements for consumer information for sales of Eyewear where we represent the Italian Eyewear manufacturer.  

The work received from other Legalink members are often relating to litigation or arbitration procedures in Sweden.


What are your views on Legalink expansion?

Most of the work we refer to other firms goes to our neighbouring countries and we would really benefit from expanding the network into Norway and Denmark. We have made several inquiries and approached a few firms that we frequently work with. Today we work with two Danish firms that both have declined to join Legalink and the same applies for Norway. We would also welcome more member firms from central and eastern Europe as we see an increase of work to and from these countries.


As regards to Legalink, are you happy about your firm’s membership? What can we do better?

We are very happy with our membership in Legalink. We have enjoyed the annual meetings very much and we have made good friends with the other members. The network provides us with reliable friends and partners in most jurisdictions that are always easily accessible. We should probably be more engaged in the different practice groups to benefit more of our membership – we will try to improve on this. The academy is a great idea and highly appreciated among our junior lawyers and must not be forgotten during the pandemic. The covid-19 is a challenge for the network as we will probably not be able to meet IRL until 2022 but can, to some extent be compensated with more MS Teams meetings.


What is your favourite thing to do in your spare time?

To some extent the Covid-19 situation has given me an insight in the life after retirement and frankly it is quite boring to work from home and isolate from others. Normally I enjoy a very social life with friends and family. We have always travelled a lot and I love the extended weekend trips to interesting places in Europe. This year I even had to cancel my motorcycle tour with friends to Arizona/ Nevada for the first time. Instead we spent a great summer and many weekends with my family in our house on the west coast of Sweden with a lot of fishing, cycling and kayaking – at my age I have to stay fit.