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Rasmus Kirkeby Salling

Rasmus Kirkeby Salling is not your typical run of the mill lawyer. Sure, he carries many traits of the trade: Ambitious, power seeker, and former nominee on Legal500’s GC Powerlist. But he’s also a man inspired by a sense of purpose and a heartrunner. As Lead Legal Counsel for Falck’s global ambulance and fire businesses, he has found the perfect place to vent his ambitious nature while doing good.

Metaphorically, lawyers are often used to put out fires. And in his time, Rasmus has put out his share of fires. But Rasmus is not very fond of fighting fires. He prefers to be part of something where he can create solutions.

“When you work in-house as a company lawyer, you become involved in creating great commercial solutions that, hopefully, prevent fires from happening. Because, if you do your job right from the start, you’ll avoid the mistakes that cause the fires,” says Rasmus.

And to bring the metaphor home, Rasmus works as the first point of contact for all legal counselling for Falck’s global fire and ambulance businesses. It’s a job where he can combine his legal expertise with his commercial approach and deep business sense to strengthen Falck’s businesses. But actually, law school wasn’t top of mind for the young Rasmus.

The way of the law

Rasmus comes out of a family steeped in academic traditions. His father is a doctor and professor at the University of Copenhagen. His mother is a dentist. And the rest of the family has also ventured along the lines of healthcare and medical professions. But that was not for Rasmus.

“It never really appealed to me. I’ve always been more interested in history and social science. And after high school, I didn’t know what I wanted to do.

However, Rasmus felt compelled to study something. And he had heard that studying law could come in handy in many situations when you’re at a loss of what to do.

Rasmus quickly discovered that he was attracted to the role of the trusted advisor. To help decision-makers make tough decisions. So, Rasmus decided to become a lawyer and landed a position with the Danish top tier law firm Bech & Bruun.

Creating solutions

In his time with the law firm, Rasmus realised that he preferred to work with clients where he could be part of creating long term solutions rather than only being called upon by clients when an issue had arisen.

“It was much more exciting to be part of projects where I was involved from start to finish. Where I could influence the decision making and the development,”
says Rasmus.

Rasmus realised he needed to work in-house in a company if he was to gain access to the type of projects that really motivated him. So, he joined the French industry giant Schneider Electric and along the way moved to Brussels.

“In many ways, the job is the same. But it’s more interesting and becomes more relevant when you are  integrated into the business. And more fun. The strategic element which creates business lies in-house. You gain access to that as part of an in-house legal department. It’s super exciting,” says Rasmus.

Sense of purpose

It was with Schneider Rasmus really discovered how deep a sense of purpose resonated with him.

“I wasn’t aware of it when I was contacted regarding job at Schneider. But during the interviews, I became very taken with their purpose of leading the green transition within their industry. It was very ambitious. And it made sense to me on so many levels,” recalls Rasmus.

After four years in Brussels, Rasmus decided it was time to head back home to Denmark. And once in Denmark, it was time for a fresh start after almost eight years at Schneider. Fortunately for Rasmus, Falck was on the lookout for a lead legal counsel.

“I called to check if the position was with the ambulance business. That was very important to me. I wanted to work with the ambulances,” recalls Rasmus with a laugh. “But it was the same element of purpose that attracted me to Falck. Our purpose. It makes sense in a larger context. It’s something completely different compared to counting hours at a law firm.”

A unique culture

Rasmus got the job. And since then he’s been busy turning the legal department into a trusted business partner with a sound understanding of the ambulance and fire businesses.

“Risk is a key component in our counselling. We don’t just give thumps up or down on a project or contract. Our approach is more holistic. We put the risk into a commercial context to ensure what we do is balanced and makes sense both strategically as well as financially,” says Rasmus.

According to Rasmus, it’s something his department can do because they understand all aspects of Falck’s business so well. Something inherent in the Falck culture.

“From the mandatory First Aid course to experiencing our frontline personnel in action. It’s amazing. And it gives you a completely different understanding of what it’s all about when you’re giving legal counsel on the negotiations of an ambulance contract,” says Rasmus. “It makes you realise that everything we do in Falck – even us lawyers – is about saving and improving lives. It’s absolutely inseparable from what our front liners do.”

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