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Thought Leader

WWL Ranking: Thought Leader

Peers and clients say

"The construction arbitration guru"
"A very strong arbitrator who brings it to the point almost immediately"
"Uniformly excellent as both counsel and arbitrator"
"Excellent knowledge of arbitration and mediation"
"Experienced and efficient"

Questions & Answers

Dr Rouven F Bodenheimer is co-founder of BODENHEIMER, a law firm specialised in international dispute resolution. He has acted in many domestic and international arbitration cases, as both party counsel and arbitrator. Rouven has significant experience in institutional and ad hoc arbitration, dispute adjudication and mediation. He is a fellow (FCIArb) and chartered arbitrator (CArb) of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators. A professor for international law (-2015), he continues to lecture on mediation and international arbitration at different universities.

What inspired you to specialise in arbitration? 

Internationality has always sparked my interest. Working in the field of arbitration I had – and I constantly have – the opportunity to meet incredibly interesting people and to interact with colleagues from very different cultures and legal backgrounds, something I personally find fascinating. It’s the perfect match between challenging legal tasks and internationality.

In your opinion, what are the benefits and challenges of virtual hearings? What role do you see them having in the future of arbitration?

Whereas I see benefits of virtual hearings, especially in relation to saving travel time and logistic costs, arbitrators must ensure that conducting virtual hearings does not negatively affect parties’ rights to fully present their cases. Much has been said about the alleged inferiority of virtual hearings when it comes to establishing the truth of witnesses. This might be the case in some cases.

In my view, the biggest disadvantage is when it comes to sensing whether there might be room for settlement. This is much more difficult, if not impossible in a virtual hearing. 

As a founding partner at the firm, what are your main priorities for its development over the next five years? 

We just celebrated the fourth anniversary of the firm with a considerable enlargement. Dr Christof Siefarth and his team joined us from one of the largest German law firms. With the expansion, our office probably became the largest disputes firm in the German market. Besides our growth, maintaining the high quality of work delivered and a work environment that everyone enjoys is our priority. 

There has been a growing demand for increased efficiency in arbitral proceedings. How do you think the new ICC rules will improve proceedings from now on?

Efficiency is an always present mantra when talking about arbitration. The whole arbitration community debates how to make the proceedings more time and cost-efficient; however, we have to be careful not to jeopardise the quality of the arbitration experience, as well as the final product – the award, in the name of efficiency. 

I believe the amendments in the 2021 ICC Rules can positively contribute to the improvement of efficiency in arbitral proceedings, especially regarding the joinder of parties and consolidation of arbitration proceedings and the increase in the threshold value for expedited proceedings.

What must not be forgotten: the greatest responsibility for efficient proceedings is neither with the arbitrators nor with the institutions but with the parties and their counsel. 

Where, in your opinion, does the future of arbitration lie? 

First, I think that chances will prevail over challenges: I see an amazingly well-trained and internationally versed generation adding quality to the resolution of international disputes in general. Further, AI will be more of a helpful tool than a threat. 

A challenge might be to remain critical of both how we structure dispute resolution mechanisms, and institutions and the players we perceive as well established. The upcoming generation seems to forget that no dispute takes place in a parallel universe. All disputes deal with a substantive matter. That generation must ensure they are well versed in a substantive field, as this will allow them to handle disputes efficiently.

More openness to alternatives such as mediation will be appreciated by clients. 

What steps can be made to increase diversity in the arbitration market? 

Arbitral institutions are playing a central role in order to reduce the gap between male and female appointments for the constitution of arbitral tribunals, but there is still a lot to be done.

From the perspective of a private practitioner, I believe that the most important step is providing equal opportunities, which is more often said than done. Personally, I always try to practise what I preach. In our office we change perspectives and embrace diversity, what is reflected in our multijurisdictional team of lawyers. Our contribution to gender diversity: be a great parent and a great lawyer – both is possible at BODENHEIMER.

What advice would you give to practitioners looking to establish their own firm?

Find a partner, be loyal, just do it. 

Thought Leaders - Construction 2020

Q&A

WWL Ranking: Thought Leader

WWL says

Rouven Bodenheimer has deep expertise in construction arbitration, where he is “uniformly excellent as both counsel and arbitrator”.

Questions & Answers

Dr Bodenheimer is specialized in international construction law. He has advised employers and engineers globally throughout all phases from project inception to claims management. Dr. Bodenheimer represents contractors, investors and other stakeholders in arbitration and adjudication proceedings – he is an experienced adjudicator and arbitrator in large infrastructure and industrial plant projects. His experience allows him to offer profound experience where common law and civil law appear to clash. He is a Chartered Arbitrator and Fellow (FCIArb) of the Chartered Institute for Arbitrators and an Officer of the IBA’s International Construction Projects Committee.
How has the role of a construction disputes lawyer changed since you started your career?
Companies that are active in the construction sector with different roles, e.g. employers, contractors, and other industry stakeholders such as subcontractors, architects, engineers, developers and financing institutions have learned to involve their construction disputes lawyers in their projects from very early on, even at the stage of contract preparation. A well-handled contract preparation stage minimizes the probability of disputes by avoiding those ambiguities which turn into disputes in future.
What do clients look for when selecting a construction lawyer?
Like in any other field that requires expertise, clients look for experience and deep sector knowledge. Construction lawyers are especially expected to understand how a construction project evolves from the first stages of feasibility and procurement till the expiration of the warranty period, in addition to purely legal aspects. They are also expected to adapt to new developments quickly, e.g. from new methods of procurement to new IT tools to managing delays and claims.
What qualities make for an effective construction disputes lawyer?
An effective construction disputes lawyer must, to my mind, have the same skills which define any effective lawyer: the ability to distinguish relevant from irrelevant, the readiness to deal with every tiny aspect of a dispute without losing the full picture; a holistic approach that includes the – mostly more important – non-legal factors of a project; the ability to efficiently communicate with other professions and ensure you are clearly understood by engineers, project finance experts and the worker on site; the understanding of the lifetime of construction project as a whole; if you are instructed to handle a dispute after something went wrong you need the ability to not only assess what you see now but also what the situation looked like at the time relevant decisions were taken.
What ramifications has covid-19 had on construction disputes?
We have seen several requests for extension of time referring to covid-19 recently. However, no project has come to a halt – thanks to efficient negotiation skills and a constructive approach from all parties involved. One has to see whether these issues will escalate at a later stage. Covid-19 has proven one specific ADR feature to be of great help: dispute boards allow for an immediate solution for unforeseen issues which would have led to major interruptions otherwise.
Do you expect virtual preparations and hearings to become the new normal for international arbitrations?
We had been, even before covid-19 pandemic, conducting virtual preparations and hearings in international arbitration cases where the disputing parties and other third parties involved, e.g. witnesses, are seated in different countries because those tools are convenient and useful for the purpose of speed and efficiency. I do expect that these tools will be used more often though, even in domestic cases, due to restrictions imposed because of covid-19 pandemic, e.g. social distancing. However, a significant proportion of matters will continue to take place physically. This applies to hearings with many witnesses and experts subject to cross-examination and extremely sensitive matters.
What are the advantages of having a more diverse workforce in the legal industry? How does your firm promote diversity?
We believe in embracing and actively promoting gender diversity and an inclusive and family-friendly culture at the workplace too. This commitment has secured us the greatest talents in the last years. Our lawyers are also individually involved in global, regional and local initiatives fostering these goals.
How do you see your practice developing over the next few years?
We are working on becoming the biggest dispute resolution firm in Germany. That will allow us to handle several complex matters as counsel at the same time without losing attention to detail or lack sufficient manpower. Our goal remains to be cost efficient and conflict free like a small firm but skilled and large enough to handle any matter irrespective of its complexity. There remains a clear commitment that the best expertise is generated by allowing both counsel work and arbitrator’s appointments in the field of international construction projects.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
We as lawyers are of auxiliary means to our clients. The more we are able to focus on commercial results rather than legal over-engineering, the merrier we become.
WWL Ranking: Thought Leader

WWL says

Rouven Bodenheimer has deep expertise in construction arbitration, where he is “uniformly excellent as both counsel and arbitrator”.

Questions & Answers

Dr Rouven F Bodenheimer is co­­­founder of BODENHEIMER, a law firm specialised in international dispute resolution. He has acted in many domestic and international arbitration cases, as both party counsel and arbitrator. Dr Bodenheimer has significant experience in institutional and ad hoc arbitration, dispute adjudication and mediation. He is a fellow (FCIArb) and chartered arbitrator (CArb) of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators. He lectures on mediation and international arbitration for master’s degree programmes at two prestigious German universities.

What did you find most challenging about entering the field of international arbitration?

The first appointment as an arbitrator. There are no formal guidelines or roadmaps to getting your first appointment and the path may be long at times. Engaging in ‘young’ arbitration initiatives and conferences might be a good way in. Further, one should ensure a work environment that will support you in getting sufficient exposure. 

Since you began your career, what has been the biggest change you have seen in relation to the way that arbitration proceedings are conducted?

The average understanding of arbitration and its features has significantly increased. This has led to a real flexibility when it comes to shaping the procedure to the actual case at hand. 

What impact has covid-19 had on your practice, arbitration proceedings and the construction market?

Whether to meet with a client, hold in-person oral hearings or visit a construction site, all had to be put on hold. Creativity alongside with technology played a key role in keeping things going, even if in an adapted manner.

How has the role of AI and technology in legal practice impacted arbitration proceedings?

Without basic legal technology, arbitration – like many court proceedings – would have ground to a standstill during the coronavirus pandemic. Instead, virtual conference providers, document rooms, automated voice-to-text transcription servers and other services were at the disposal of arbitral tribunals. Institutions are known to add more and more technology offerings to their toolchain, such as digital hearing centres or digital case and document management platforms. 

Without any doubt, AI is one of the buzzwords in arbitration. That said, its current actual impact is rather limited. Why? Because real “AI”, artificial intelligence, ie, systems that are not driven by pre-formulated decision algorithms but are trained to make a decision by comparing a set of facts to previous learnings just like humans, are not ready for deployment yet. AI-driven systems are starting to emerge in the field of document analysis, which can also aid counsel preparing for arbitration. 

What’s next? Holographic virtual arbitrations seem to emerge on the horizon, with major tech companies starting to release products in the field of virtual/augmented reality. AI will most likely influence decision-making in the area of arbitration funding, strengthen anti-money laundering efforts, and maybe aid arbitrator selection at some point. 

What trends are you seeing emerging in the types of disputes currently going to arbitration?

Even before the outbreak of covid-19, arbitration proceedings involving the pharmaceutical industry were on the rise. Moreover, I see an increase of the relevance of human rights in international disputes. 

Climate and energy-related disputes are reported to increase. Looking at the range of treaties and legal regimes in force in this field, there may indeed be potential for a new emerging field of arbitration. 

Our firm is prepared to deal with both of these types of disputes.

If you could implement one reform in international arbitration, what would it be?

Make the publication of awards (strictly anonymised) the default, with options for parties to opt out, in all major institutions’ rule sets. 

Have parties compile the facts of a case in a structured, growing and living document on an online platform form the “facts” part of the award. The German judiciary is discussing exactly this approach right now. 

How does your firm distinguish itself from competitors in the market more generally?

The claim of BODENHEIMER is “changing perspectives”. We are truly international, and we embrace diversity. You can be a parent and a lawyer with exciting cases in our firm. In the German market, we are one of the largest teams focusing on complex disputes only, which allows one to handle large cases as counsel. At the same time, we are small enough to act as arbitrators as well without being prevented by conflict too often. 

What advice would you give to younger practitioners hoping to one day be in your position?

As I always like to emphasise, international arbitration – and disputes in general – do not take place in a parallel universe. All disputes deal with a substantive matter, so one cannot simply focus in the field of international arbitration without being well versed in a substantive field. It is important to have good understanding of contract law, civil law, private and public international law. Finally, construction law rocks! 

Global Leader

Arbitration 2021

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Recommended

Peers and clients say

"The construction arbitration guru"
"A very strong arbitrator who brings it to the point almost immediately"
"Uniformly excellent as both counsel and arbitrator"
"Excellent knowledge of arbitration and mediation"
"Experienced and efficient"

Biography

Dr Rouven F Bodenheimer, MA FCIArb CArb is co-founder of BODENHEIMER HERZBERG, a law firm specialising in international dispute resolution.

Dr Rouven Bodenheimer specialises in conflict resolution and advises on corporate law and construction law. Besides civil court proceedings, he has been involved in numerous arbitration cases governed institutionally (DIS, ICC, LCIA, SCC, DIAC, VIAC, DIA, CAS and CEAC) as well as ad hoc arbitration. He has garnered significant experience as co-arbitrator, sole arbitrator, chairman and counsel in various arbitration proceedings both domestically and internationally. He is particularly experienced in disputes involving difficult technical issues and complex commercial aspects. His expertise lies in fields as diverse as infrastructure, energy, construction and intricate financial transactions.

Due to his vast experience in both common law and civil law related matters, he is specifically sought-after as counsel and arbitrator in international disputes. Many cases involved parties and projects in the Asia-Pacific region, which have led him to develop a profound intercultural understanding with a view to different legal traditions.

Dr Bodenheimer served as professor for international law (2015) and is today a highly sought-after speaker at conferences around the world. He lectures dispute resolution at multiple universities. He is a fellow (FCIArb) and chartered arbitrator (CArb) of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators. Dr Bodenheimer served as co-chair of the DIS40, the organisation for arbitrators aged 40 and under, which is part of the German Institution for Arbitration. He is an active member of the International Bar Association's arbitration committee, and within that he was a founding member of the steering committee of the under-40 arbitration group. Peer-appointed, he is considered one of the future leaders in international arbitration.

Dr Bodenheimer speaks German, English, Dutch and French.

Construction 2021

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Recommended

Peers and clients say:

"The best construction lawyer in Germany!"
"He is very knowledgeable"

Biography

Dr Rouven F Bodenheimer, MA FCIArb CArb is co-founder of BODENHEIMER HERZBERG, a law firm specialising in international dispute resolution.

Dr Rouven Bodenheimer specialises in conflict resolution and advises on corporate law and construction law. Besides civil court proceedings, he has been involved in numerous arbitration cases governed institutionally (DIS, ICC, LCIA, SCC, DIAC, VIAC, DIA, CAS and CEAC) as well as ad hoc arbitration. He has garnered significant experience as co-arbitrator, sole arbitrator, chairman and counsel in various arbitration proceedings both domestically and internationally. He is particularly experienced in disputes involving difficult technical issues and complex commercial aspects. His expertise lies in fields as diverse as infrastructure, energy, construction and intricate financial transactions.

Due to his vast experience in both common law and civil law related matters, he is specifically sought-after as counsel and arbitrator in international disputes. Many cases involved parties and projects in the Asia-Pacific region, which have led him to develop a profound intercultural understanding with a view to different legal traditions.

Dr Bodenheimer served as professor for international law (2015) and is today a highly sought-after speaker at conferences around the world. He lectures dispute resolution at multiple universities. He is a fellow (FCIArb) and chartered arbitrator (CArb) of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators. Dr Bodenheimer served as co-chair of the DIS40, the organisation for arbitrators aged 40 and under, which is part of the German Institution for Arbitration. He is an active member of the International Bar Association's arbitration committee, and within that he was a founding member of the steering committee of the under-40 arbitration group. Peer-appointed, he is considered one of the future leaders in international arbitration.

Dr Bodenheimer speaks German, English, Dutch and French.

National Leader

Germany - Arbitration 2021

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Rouven Bodenheimer is “incredibly active and one of the most energetic arbitration lawyers in Germany” comment sources, who add that he is “really good”.

Biography

Dr Rouven F Bodenheimer, MA FCIArb CArb is co-founder of BODENHEIMER formerly BODENHEIMER HERZBERG, a law firm specialising in international dispute resolution.

Dr Rouven Bodenheimer specialises in conflict resolution and primarily renders advice on construction law. Besides civil court proceedings he has been involved in numerous arbitration cases governed institutionally (DIS, ICC, LCIA, SCC, DIAC, VIAC, DIA, CAS and CEAC) as well as ad hoc arbitration. He has garnered significant experience as sole arbitrator, co-arbitrator, chairman and counsel in various arbitration proceedings, both domestically and internationally. He is particularly experienced in disputes involving difficult technical issues and large infrastructure projects. His expertise lies in fields as diverse as infrastructure, energy, construction and PPP projects.

Due to his vast experience in  both common law and civil law related matters, he  is  specifically sought-after  as counsel and arbitrator in international disputes. Many cases involved parties and projects in the Asia- Pacific region, which have led him to develop a profound intercultural understanding with a view to different legal traditions.

Upon completing his formal legal education, Dr Bodenheimer published a doctoral thesis on a trade law topic in a comparative perspective under German and English law and obtained an additional master's degree in business mediation.

Dr Bodenheimer lectures on mediation and international arbitration at different prestigious German universities. He regularly publishes articles, book reviews and book contributions in the field of international arbitration and dispute resolution and is today a highly sought-after speaker at conferences around the world.

Dr Bodenheimer served as co-chair of the DIS40, the under-40 member organisation of the German Institution for Arbitration. He is an active member of the International Bar Association's arbitration committee, and within that he was a founding member of the steering committee of the under-40 arbitration group. He is a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (FCIArb) and a Chartered Arbitrator (C.Arb).

Peer-appointed, he is considered as one of the future leaders in international arbitration. Dr Bodenheimer speaks German, English, Dutch and French.

WWL Ranking: Recommended
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