Johan Sidklev – Chair of the Board, dispute resolution whiz and football coach
Roschier is a firm that allows you to grow and develop, regardless of at what stage of your career you join us. A great example of this is our Chair of the Board, Johan Sidklev, who joined 9 years ago as a partner, with the task of developing our Dispute Resolution practice in Stockholm.
Johan Sidklev is Roschier’s Chair of the Board and head of our Dispute Resolution practice in Stockholm. He has been with us since 2014 and became Chair of the Board in 2022.
He joined us to run the disputes practice in Stockholm when his predecessor retired. The disputes team in Stockholm was fairly small at the time, but now numbers some 25 members.
“I’ve grown in – and with – the firm and have been assigned several different roles during my years here. For example, I’ve been both a member and the Chair of Roschier’s Partnership Committee. This was very valuable to me; I learned a lot about the inner workings of Roschier. The PC is extremely important in terms of how the firm works as a whole. If the Partnership Committee works well, the firm runs well.”
The Chair of the Board has a broad range of responsibilities and is also expected to continue doing client work.
“Last year, my colleagues elected me Chair of the Board. It’s a different role for me, with greater responsibility for the firm, our strategy, our clients, talent and practical matters relating to all employees. But this is not a one-man show – I’ve got brilliant and engaged Board colleagues and I’m supported by a very strong management team, which prepares the matters we make decisions on.”
Why did you want to become a lawyer?
“I was intrigued by the fact that the whole of society and the way in which we interact is based on rules – many of them unwritten, for example how to treat people and how to act and behave. And I also watched a lot of tv series about lawyers as a child: LA Law, Law and Order and several others. It kind of melded with my strengths – I’m good at writing and arguing.”
Johan graduated from Uppsala University, studied maritime law in Norway, and worked in New York for a year while taking classes at Fordham Law School.
Why did you choose dispute resolution?
“I like the competitive aspect of it, I’m good at finding legal discrepancies, and I enjoy working with colleagues with a similar mindset and interest in law,” Johan says and continues:
“To me, dispute resolution is interesting and intriguing for many reasons: one being that you actually fight the battle and get a judgment, like in sports – you work hard and get a reward. In the field of dispute resolution, there’s always a legal problem that the parties have differing views on. When they come to us, they need a third party – a tribunal or a court – to decide the dispute. We get to do a deep dive into legal issues and find a lot of information. It’s a bit like doing detective work.”
It was quite clear to Johan at an early stage – from mid-law school – that he was going to focus on business law.
“I was also interested in criminal law and other family-related aspects of law, but when I trained at the bench, I found it quite repetitive. That’s when I decided on business law.”
Value-driven and entrepreneurial
Before joining Roschier, Johan Sidklev was a partner at another large law firm in Stockholm. He has not regretted the move.
“I think that this is the best firm,” he says, laughing.
“It’s great that we are so clearly driven by our core values, especially the entrepreneurial aspect, constantly striving to be innovative and meet clients’ needs, even before the clients themselves actually know what they need. We work with client orientation every day, on every delivery, analyzing and not only answering questions but also thinking about why a specific question was asked.”
Roschier’s strong Nordic profile is regularly recognized by ranking institutes and other operators in the legal market.
“Clients recognize this and actually ask us to handle their issues on a Nordic level, in addition to the national level. That said, our field is constantly changing, and we adapt to that, all the while learning from our clients every day.”
The current focus of Roschier’s strategy is on making this the best decade ever, taking the firm to the next level on the palette of client, talent, competition, and internal processes.
“We want to be the best place to work. This strategy work is ongoing on every level, especially regarding talent and people. We have systems for monitoring and following up, ensuring the wellbeing of our people and a sustainable work environment. Attracting and retaining talent is a priority.”
Roschier’s Stockholm office opened 18 years ago, and Johan has been with us for half of that time.
“Opening an office in Stockholm, as the first ever Finnish law firm to do so, was a courageous move: a sign that when Roschier decides to do something, it’s all in. And it turned out to be a very successful strategy.”
Legal work has recently become even more complex because of the war in Ukraine as transactions and exits from the Russian market have resulted in a wave of arbitrations and litigations.
“Our knowledge of Russian clients and counterparties is considerable; we have a lot of experience, which is useful now when we assist our Nordic clients. A lot of Russian disputes are handled in Stockholm – and they were a significant part of our disputes portfolio up until 24 February 2022, when the world changed and our focus did, too. We also advise on sanctions issues and regulations, and consequences arising from transactions and finance matters.”
Because of the war, the Nordic and global economies have slowed down significantly.
“Inflation, higher interest rates, a shift in energy supplies and general uncertainty as to where markets will end up have also meant a shift in the types of advice the clients demand. But, with our broad expertise, our innovative mindset and drawing on our cross-border cooperation, we have adapted quite rapidly to our clients’ new demands.
Being a responsible business, our joint aspiration is to continuously contribute to society, be it by engaging in topical discussions globally and locally or promoting the rule of law in our role as an independent advisor.
Now, we have discussed your professional profile, but what do you do in your spare time?
“I spend time with my wife and our three boys. We go on family vacations as often as possible – sailing in the summer, skiing in the winter. I was a football coach for all three of my boys. That, to me, is total relaxation, as it is impossible do anything work-related while you are coaching 25 boys. You have to be fully engaged.”