Roland Stein is a founding partner of the Berlin-based boutique law firm Blomstein. He focuses his practice on government contracts and international trade law – not only in Germany, but also in the European Union, the United States, Asia and Latin America. In the area of public procurement, he advises both contracting authorities and bidders in complex and legally challenging disputes. He has been involved in cases such as the Siemens corruption scandal and numerous World Bank debarment procedures.
DESCRIBE YOUR CAREER TO DATE.
I started my career with Freshfields’ public procurement and international trade law team in Berlin and London. I worked there for nearly 10 years – in my last position as counsel. Together with three other colleagues, I moved onto a new stage in 2016: we founded Blomstein and have not looked back since.
WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO DEVELOP A SPECIALISM IN PUBLIC PROCUREMENT?
Public procurement is an ever-growing area involving international as well as legally challenging matters. I chose public procurement because it allows me to feed my natural curiosity by delving into a new industry on a case-by-case basis – whether it is technology, IT, energy, finance, or defence and security.
IN YOUR OPINION, WHAT SKILLS ARE MOST SOUGHT AFTER BY CLIENTS IN THIS SPACE?
First, understanding the needs of the business one is faced with in order to give tailored and concise advice that the client can easily implement. Second, where authorities and courts are involved, robust defence is required in order to satisfy the rigorous regulatory requirements posed in our fields.
HOW HAS THE INCREASED ASSERTIVENESS OF AUTHORITIES IN THE TRADE AND CUSTOMS SPACE AFFECTED YOUR PRACTICE?
From what I have seen, even minor administrative errors may lead to lengthy and costly investigations and fines. Thus, my advice to any company involved in international trade is to get experts on board as early as possible in order to prevent violations and remove “dusty corners” in their day-to-day trade operations.
HAVE YOU SEEN AN UPTICK IN APPETITE FOR BIDDING ON EUROPEAN GOVERNMENT CONTRACTS FROM OUTSIDE THE EU?
The EU has an open government contracts market, which is already large-scale and set to grow further in the coming years. Hence, it is no surprise that new interested parties from the US, Asia and eastern Europe are entering these uncharted competitive territories.
HOW CAN FIRMS BEST PREPARE THEMSELVES FOR THE INCREASING BURDEN OF CYBERSECURITY COMPLIANCE?
Firms have to constantly review internal processes and maintain a high level of alert for potential weak spots – but also to view cybersecurity compliance as a selling point and therefore a new business opportunity.
WHERE DOES THE FUTURE OF THE FIELD OF GOVERNMENT CONTRACTS LIE?
With markets in which government contracts traditionally play a huge role (such as energy, infrastructure, transport and defence) being quite concentrated and the size of government projects increasing, we expect a tremendous rise in joint bidding, which will lead to complex procedures across various jurisdictions. Next to those giant projects, I expect that “bread and butter” procedures will be manageable by digital means.
WHAT IS YOUR PROUDEST ACHIEVEMENT SO FAR?
On a professional level, my proudest achievement is easy to name: the experience of co-founding Blomstein. It has allowed tremendous personal growth; and it has given me the opportunity to deepen existing relationships, to forge new connections – professional and private – with inspiring individuals along the way, and to focus on the legal areas I’m passionate about. On a personal level, I am proud of and grateful for the family life that I have built with my wife.