Back to Porthania – Alumni-taught courses attract crowds of students every year

At the Faculty of Law of the University of Helsinki, many career courses are helmed by the Faculty’s alumni. For students, it means the opportunity to take a diverse look at professional practices.

During their studies, students of the Faculty of Law gain extensive theoretical knowledge of law. After graduation, this knowledge is best applied swiftly to practice.

In this, the Faculty’s career-oriented courses offer a boost. Dozens of the courses offered by the Faculty are taught by its own graduates.

“Studying law is heavy on theory. Our job is to teach law, and in many courses the emphasis is on scholarship, just like in other academic studies. Courses given by alumni are a counterweight to this. In these courses, students draw up agreements or practise drafting documents initiating proceedings,” says Susanna Lindroos-Hovinheimo, Director of the Master’s Programme in Law at the Faculty.

Partners can be individual alumni or, for example, law firms. To ensure that the content is suitable for university courses, the Faculty is involved in the planning.

A window to a range of jobs

For students, the courses offer a peek into diverse professional life, as the lawyers involved in the courses serve in a spectrum of jobs, including in law firms, as judges or as government ministry officials. According to strict Faculty policy, no money changes hands.

“I believe that giving a course can be a valuable recruitment opportunity for our partners. For some, spending their time on this can be a moral obligation,” Lindroos-Hovinheimo says.

It also provides a counterbalance to one’s work.

“Students who take career courses are already fairly advanced in their studies and ask smart questions. It’s probably nice to work with clever young people.”

One of the alumni dedicating their time to this is Pekka Aalto, LLD. For a few years, Aalto, who works for the Court of Justice of the European Union in Luxembourg, has been conducting a course in EU law for master’s level students. The course has been implemented collaboratively with Juha Raitio, one of the vice-deans of the Faculty.

“Juha has overseen the theoretical side, while my contribution has been practical expertise, such as presenting the processes of the European Court of Justice or analysing how Finnish courts apply its decisions,” Aalto says.

He has found the collaboration meaningful. Preparing for teaching and encountering students face-to-face differ from Aalto’s duties as an administrative official.

“When I was a student, contact with employers through the University was limited. Now I can lay down stepping stones in support of students’ career paths. Either in the direction of EU law for those interested in it, or in another direction,” says Aalto, chuckling.

“I also think it’s great that the University strives to reach out to us alumni and reconnect with us after our time at the University. The annual course has become important to me.”

Thank you, alumni!

Four years ago, lawyer Casper Herler designed a course in legal leadership as part of the Faculty’s master’s level courses. He felt that lawyers not being taught leadership skills in Finland was a drawback. Herler’s law firm has been responsible for planning the course.

“Every year, several lawyers active in professional life contribute to implementing the course. They present leadership situations related to professional life for students to solve. I also serve as a guest lecturer in teaching in environmental law. It’s inspiring to be able to lecture on the topic every year,” Herler notes.

This autumn, lawyer Oona Fromholdt-Nyman gave a course in legal information retrieval for the first time. Thanks to the collaboration, she was able to convey to future junior colleagues information that has benefitted her personally.

It felt meaningful.

“In a way, I also consider participation in alumni collaboration an obligation. I wish to help, since I have the opportunity. In addition, exchanging ideas with students helps me examine legal information retrieval from various perspectives. Teaching is also a good way for lawyers to develop their presentation skills,” Fromholdt-Nyman says.

Vice-Dean Juha Raitio points out that the importance of alumni in the career education provided by the Faculty is great, and it is appreciated by both teachers and students.

According to Susanna Lindroos-Hovinheimo, the interest in courses headed by alumni manifests tangibly in the registration stage.

“All courses are always extremely popular and fill up immediately. Students must be quick to guarantee a place.”

Have you studied at the University of Helsinki?

As a member of the University of Helsinki alumni network you get valuable support, knowledge and contacts for your working life. You may share your competence with others and learn more about interesting topics. Or you may, for instance, start mentoring a fresh graduate. Here you can read more about the benefits of the alumni community and join for free.