Who's Who Legal
Who's Who Legal
New to Who's Who Legal?
New to Who's Who Legal?
Menu
User Menu
New to Who's Who Legal?
Thought Leaders

Thought Leaders

Rouven F Bodenheimer

Rouven F Bodenheimer

Bodenheimer HerzbergTorhaus Gerling QuartierVon-Werth-Str. 2CologneGermany50670

Thought Leader

Thought Leaders - Arbitration 2020

Q&A

WWL Ranking: Thought Leader

WWL says

Rouven Bodenheimer is praised for his “hands-on approach” to contentious proceedings and is singled out by sources as “the best young arbitrator in Germany”.

Questions & Answers

Dr Rouven F Bodenheimer is co-founder of Bodenheimer Herzberg, 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. He lectures on mediation and international arbitration for master’s degree programmes at two prestigious German universities.

How does your role as a lecturer enhance your work in private practice?

First of all, I just love to fascinate others with what I am fond of. This is the mindset that has helped me most, as both lecturer and counsel: it helps you tremendously to realise that what you want to convey is not necessarily what your audience has waited for their entire life. It allows you to engage, to fascinate others, to reflect, to convince (and win cases), and finally to grow. 

Lecturing allows you to deal with issues that aren’t fully addressed in daily practice – such as the fundamentals of our practice – and to consider matters further, beyond the daily necessities. My role as a lecturer gives me the opportunity to discuss my innovative ideas with many bright minds; this broadens my horizon and gives me perspective – and, of course, enhances my work in private practice and adds to my reputation as an innovative arbitration practitioner. 

What is the biggest issue that arbitration must address if it wishes to keep growing and improving its efficiency as a form of dispute resolution?

We must reduce the users’ bad experiences and remain open to improvement. I still see a lot of practices that have only one justification: “We have always done it this way.” Solving disputes in general, and using arbitration in particular, is more a craft requiring practical experience than a science that can only be mastered by study. Here, we must not blindly follow the senior practitioners and their best practice, but rather challenge our processes and the way we handle disputes. Best practice in arbitration very often does not equal best practice for the one specific dispute in front of us. This applies to some institutions operating in the market as well. We need to leave our comfort zone in order to improve the process and its reputation.

What is your contribution to increased efficiency in arbitration?

Practising what I preach, I constantly try to reflect on anything our team or I do. Over the past few years I have developed a technique that I strongly believe adds to efficiency in international arbitration. Whenever acting as sole arbitrator or chairman of an arbitral tribunal, I introduce the case with a visual aid such as PowerPoint. I summarise the submissions in detail and – if need be – restructure them in accordance with the legal requirements of the respective claims. This serves several goals: parties save time, as they do not need to repeat all submissions in their openings; parties gain trust as they evidence a soundly prepared tribunal; parties see the tribunal’s focus point; parties can correct or recentre the tribunal’s focus in a face-saving manner; parties can refer to neutral sources, such as timelines and the sequence of events in their upcoming pleadings; co-arbitrators are completely updated, even when not fully prepared; and, last but not least, every hearing starts with a setting that is, psychologically, slightly different, as parties do not confront each other but start by facing in the same direction – towards the screen where the presentation is displayed. Feedback from parties and co-arbitrators was always overwhelming.

What is the most memorable dispute you have worked on?

In general, it is always the last one. Recently, I acted as sole arbitrator under the rules of an international arbitration institution. The seat was England, and the applicable law was that of an Asian country. I had already handled many cases as arbitrator. The dispute is memorable for three reasons. First, I felt extremely honoured to be jointly appointed by two parties from outside Europe, both represented by major international law firms. Second, I experienced a dispute where all counsel involved fought hard but always with utmost respect and professionalism. And third, I really experienced the often-told but never-before-seen “smoking gun”: a counsel turned the case in an amazing cross-examination.

What do you think will be the greatest challenge facing the next generation of arbitration lawyers?

First, I think that chances will prevail over challenges: I see an increasingly globalised world, with clients being more aware of the need for means to settle disputes beyond national borders and an amazingly well-trained and internationally versed generation. Further, AI will be more of a helpful tool than a challenge. 

The challenges 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.

How do you see your practice developing over the next five years?

We just celebrated our third anniversary at the firm. After a quick growth to 12 lawyers within two years, we focused on consolidation in year three – which is when we took the first lateral partner on board. With Björn Gehle our team strengthens its ties to the Arab region and to South East Asia. Having reached the critical mass to handle large cases as counsel without our team being prevented from working as arbitrators, Bodenheimer Herzberg will grow further. But maintaining the high quality and a work environment that everyone enjoys will be paramount. Even though arbitrator work increases constantly, I personally hope to maintain my counsel practice as this is what adding value in arbitration is about: practitioners who know both sides of the table. 

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 is praised for his “hands-on approach” to contentious proceedings and is singled out by sources as “the best young arbitrator in Germany”.

Questions & Answers

Rouven Bodenheimer is co-founder of Bodenheimer Herzberg, a law firm specialised in international dispute resolution. He has acted in many domestic and international arbitration cases, as both party counsel and arbitrator. He also advises on conflict avoidance strategies and acts as mediator in complex commercial matters. 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. He lectures regulary on mediation and international arbitration for master’s degree programmes at two prestigious German universities.

What do you enjoy most about practising in the arbitration space?

One of the aspects I enjoy the most is that it acts as a meeting point for different legal cultures. It allows practitioners from different backgrounds to create new, mixed practices by combining different elements of, eg, common law and civil law traditions. Crafting a unique solution that is specific to the facts and circumstances of each case, along with my foreign colleagues, is always a very rewarding and interesting experience.

Your practice is very international. How are you seeing demand from different jurisdictions change?

The demand for arbitration has been growing steadily over the past few decades all over the world, especially by Asia-based companies and in Asia-related transactions. This correlates with the increasing number of cases administered by Asia-based arbitral institutions. The number of sophisticated colleagues from Asia has increased as well. Interestingly, whereas in the past the majority of Asian parties tended to be in the position of respondent, I now see more and more cases where continental European parties are put in that position.

What are the most common sources of construction disputes?

Some of the most common sources of construction disputes are conflicts over quality (of the construction itself and of the materials used), timeline delays and abandonment, in addition to standard disputes over payments. While delays in timelines are an inevitable part of the construction sector, a sharper focus on removing ambiguity from the contract at the very beginning would be a good place to start. A properly drafted scope of works, along with a well-defined payment clause and a dispute resolution clause catering to the complexity of the construction sector, would go a long way towards minimising risks for clients.

A completely different approach I have been promoting for years is to shift from

a dispute-ridden understanding of contractual relationships to a more partner-like spirit among all stakeholders in a large construction project. Implementing specific structures and a joint understanding at the outset has proven to significantly enhance cost savings and ensure greater satisfaction of all parties involved.

In your opinion, are clients becoming more persuaded by the benefits of alternative dispute resolution (ADR)?

While costs and delay may still be considered an issue of arbitration by our clients, they are getting more and more used to ADR. In light of growing international transactions and the cross-border disputes arising therefrom, ADR methods that are far more flexible than court litigation, and that give the parties more control over the process and the results, are deemed favourable. One of the benefits that our clients get from ADR is the opportunity to preserve a business relationship with negotiation or mediation. The option to keep all proceedings confidential gives the parties a chance to focus on the outcome of a dispute without any concern for public impact.

What inspired you to set up your own firm and what challenges did you face?

One thing that inspired me was the idea of creating a one-stop destination for complex disputes. Our international and specialised resources allow us to act not only as party counsel in litigation, arbitration, mediation and other ADR proceedings, but also as arbitrator or mediator, or in other capacities, in all kinds of international disputes – without the conflicts seen in a larger firm. Keeping up with technology is one of the bigger challenges that we face. It is constantly evolving, with many legal technology solutions being introduced every year. It takes time to test these solutions and identify which ones work best for us.

What changes are you seeing in terms of competition in the market?

One recent change in the market has been a healthy increase in standards of a work-life balance. In the past, law firms had a notorious habit of engaging their younger associates in a “sweatshop” sort of environment. At Bodenheimer Herzberg, we believe in ensuring that our younger associates have the time to not only to give their best at work, but also to enjoy the best of life outside work. The number of mothers in our team, and the spirit of encouragement to allow for individual concepts of work-life balance, reflect this approach.

What are the key challenges younger construction lawyers may face in their practice?

One of the more challenging tasks for young lawyers is how to harness technology and sustainability in their field. With respect to construction, young lawyers will need to consider integrating technology and intellectual property into construction projects while incorporating clean energy and green initiatives. I do not believe that there is any straitjacket formula to tackle these challenges. What I can suggest is that young construction lawyers keep in mind that, given growing environmental concerns, sustainability is key and that there are no shortcuts in that regard. Hence, a profound dedication to detail and technical complexity is vital.

Last year you mentioned you would like to accept more teaching assignments to share your experiences with younger practitioners. Have you found this a valuable experience?

Interacting with younger practitioners is always an enriching and rewarding experience. They have a penchant for trying something new, which allows them to solve problems in a more creative way. That can end up as a positive solution for a client.

Global Leader

WWL Ranking: Recommended
Construction 2020

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

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

Biography

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 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 large infrastructure projects. His expertise lies in fields as diverse as infrastructure, energy, construction and PPP projects.

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.

Dr Bodenheimer regularly publishes articles, book reviews and book contributions in the field of international arbitration and dispute resolution.

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.

National Leader

Germany - Arbitration 2020

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Rouven Bodenheimer is praised for his “hands-on approach” to contentious proceedings and is singled out by sources as “the best young arbitrator in Germany”.

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.

Germany - Construction 2020

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Rouven Bodenheimer is a “very smart” lawyer who excels when it comes to handling high-value construction disputes.

Biography

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

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.

He has advised a wide variety of clients on civil engineering, process and building projects in a wide variety of jurisdictions. He also has extensive experience of FIDIC and various standard and ad hoc forms of contract and has lately worked on disputes arising from infrastructure and energy projects in the Middle East, South East Asia and Europe.

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 is an active member of the International Bar Association's international construction projects committee, within that he currently serves as membership officer.

Dr Bodenheimer speaks German, English, Dutch and French.

Law Business Research
Law Business Research Ltd
Meridian House, 34-35 Farringdon Street
London EC4A 4HL, UK
© Law Business Research Ltd 1998-2020. All rights reserved.
Company No.: 03281866