Professional Women Power: From Prague to Helsinki - as a lawyer, mother and guitarist Nora Haapala goes new ways


published on 6. December 2022

In the context of our career blog “professional women power”, female colleagues introduce themselves,
talk about their career paths and day to day work at Rödl & Partner.
In this way, we would like to raise awareness of women as well as motivate female applicants and colleagues
to bravely pursue their individual career paths at Rödl & Partner.

It is all about open dialogue and respect.

Nora haapala

Nora Haapala has been working as an attorney-at-law and IPIT specialist in Rödl & Partner Prague office since 2011, currently being part of the Helsinki legal team. She holds the position of an Associate Partner.

You have worked for Rödl & Partner in the Czech Republic for many years and have now joined Rödl & Partner in Finland. How did the change come about and what opportunities and challenges did it bring?

You could say that I am one of the examples of the international approach of Rödl & Partner – Slovak born Czech certified attorney who has been working for Rödl & Partner in Czech Republic until making Finland her home not only on personal level but also professionally. And how did that all happen – well, based on my surname you can deduce that my originally Slavic roots got a Nordic twist after getting married to a Finn. And from there it was just a small step to moving to Finland. As I actually feel like I was born half-Finnish (thanking also my parents for their foresight when choosing my first name, thus giving me a perfect Finnish disguise), I felt almost right away at home here. I simply like Finns. I like their sense of humour (especially that they don´t take themselves seriously – which is, based on my experience, a very rare trait), I like the way they approach things (straightforward and without unnecessary fuss). The only thing that distinguishes me from most of them (apart from the small detail of me not being yet fluent in Finnish) is that I do not like walks in the nature (which in Finland is almost a crime punishable by death) – but make it a competition or tell me that at the end a glass of wine is waiting for me – and I am all in.


What makes you passionate about your work?

This might sound like a cliché – but what makes me most enthusiastic about my work is the interaction with people. I love being the calming force – if necessary, providing feedback, connecting (with) people. To be able to come up with a solution to a problem, close a deal successfully or make a project go smoothly is a rewarding feeling, but what charges me the most and gives me the biggest satisfaction is to interact with people – colleagues, clients, acquaintances. To meet people in person, exchange ideas, plan new endeavors or simply have a good time gives, in my opinion, to our job – typically done behind a desk – completely new perspective.

What leadership traits resonate with you the most?  

Empathy and authenticity. As for authenticity, I think leadership is really about being true to yourself, having clear visions and strong sets of values. You should be willing to mentor and lift others up. I also admire leaders who have the courage and the conviction to speak up, even if it is not a popular choice to do.

When it comes to empathy, it is something that should always be there. I wouldn’t call a person a great leader if he or she lacked empathy. Empathy allows leaders to create an environment of open communication and trust.
Moreover, empathy allows us to feel safe with our failures and it makes us feel that we’re free to speak up our mind. It encourages the leaders to listen and understand the root causes of any issue and helps them uncover what drives people during a tough situation.

What advice can you give to young lawyers?

Be humble in the beginning of your career and do listen to your mentors – even though you might consider them dinosaurs. Listening does not mean there would not be a place for a discussion. Experience – even in nowadays world that is changing faster than ever – simply has its value and you can learn from it. That of course doesn´t mean that the “Oldies but Goldies” shouldn´t learn from the younger generation. It is all about open dialogue and respect.

To me personally, being able to mentor others is important because it gives me a chance to give back. In addition, I find that mentoring allows me to self-reflect more, not only on what I have achieved but also on how I got here and what I should be doing now to ensure that I continue to learn and develop.  

How do you recharge yourself after a long day at work?

With two little girls, the time for recharging is rather limited – as every parent knows quite well. Anyhow I decided to “man up” and not only resumed my old passion – dancing, but took up a new one – guitar. Do not be fooled that a woman is talking and do not expect an acoustic one – I chose the cooler sister – electric guitar. Starting a new hobby at my age combined with me being a perfectionist occasionally results in feeling like a first grader (or a rather rude one – as there is quite some cursing happening when the practice is not as smooth as anticipated). Nevertheless, both dancing and playing the guitar are taking my mind of everyday routine, problems or simply anything negative and for me they are wonderful ways how to lift up the spirit and recharge. I have also found the joy in sailing – but that is for another story …


Thank you Nora, for the humorous interview and the valuable insights. We wish you all the best for your future in Finland. 
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