Interview with Bogdan Evtimov, Partner at Dentons

Bogdan Evtimov is a partner in Dentons LLP' Brussels office. He has been extensively involved in trade, WTO and competition law in leading international and EU practices in Brussels since 2001. He talks about his extensive professional experience, why he chose a career in Brussels and more in an interview with Brussels Legal.

BL: What is it that drew you to a career in Brussels?

BE: Looking back (nearly twelve years now), I was then a young qualified Bulgarian lawyer about to finish my LLM at the College of Europe in Bruges: I owe much to my time there. It must have been several factors that drew me to a career in Brussels: the appeal of being an international lawyer at the heart of the EU; the expectation that I would actually be able to apply what I had just learnt in Bruges; and of course, a concrete and promising job and career opportunity which I did not hesitate to take “by the horns” – and this came right out of the career days at the College (at a second interview I was offered a stage with the prospect of becoming an associate at a respected UK/international law firm). I had two other alternatives – pursuing a PhD or working for an international organisation. Deciding what to do was based on as much reasoning as it was intuition. What made me pursue this career further through the years is the outstanding team of people I have worked with for nearly twelve years now, most recently in my current firm Dentons, and the rewarding nature of a lawyer’s work.

BL: Can you describe the interface between competition and trade law in a nutshell?

BE: In a nutshell, this interface consists of the aspects of trade law and policy in a competition case, or the aspects of competition law and policy in a trade case, which may influence the conclusions in the case at hand. For instance, a tariff or an anti-dumping measure can have an impact on the market definition or on the competitive assessment in an antitrust case. Equally, proven anti-competitive agreements or practices can have an impact on the analysis of the causal link between dumped imports and injury to the domestic industry in an antidumping case. Another example would be a merger control case that involved an aspect of foreign subsidies.

The interface between competition and trade is not always obvious. It may also sometimes be underestimated, or simply may not be taken into account by the responsible authority. The reality is that trade cases and competition cases sometimes deal with the same or adjacent markets. In such cases, the interface between competition and trade is very important, and must be closely looked at both by lawyers and regulators.

BL: How creative do you perceive your work to be?

BE: I am happy to have had the chance to be involved in some of the most interesting and most creative law assignments. That is not difficult, when you have as mentors people as creative as Prof. David O’Keeffe and Edward Borovikov (both currently at Dentons)! For example, I was involved in drawing up the master plan and the legal arguments for an action for annulment against an act of the EU institutions (I have been involved in a dozen of those, including most recently in appeals of judgments of the General Court). Also, seeking and finding one or several legal solutions to very complex problems. As a result, I believe the work of an EU lawyer can be and is often highly creative. I think lawyers can get creative work even at an early stage of their legal career. She or he just needs to convince the supervising lawyer that she/he can do it!

BL: What has been your most gratifying professional experience?

BE: I would be honest if I said I feel most gratified whenever I see that a client is happy with work I have been involved in. I have also been happy when our team found solutions to complex issues with the agreement of the EU institutions and the EU Courts: unprecedented non-application of anti-dumping measures due to the recognition of the effects of a cartel; requesting and obtaining an interpretative judgment which avoided an unfortunate outcome, such as the risk of implementing a judgment of the General Court erga omnes (applicable to all). After one of the major legal successes I was involved in, the client’s reward was particularly gratifying: he was so happy that each member of the team received a beautiful box full of chocolates - each the size of a (large) air cabin luggage! In case you were wondering, the client was not even a chocolate maker! I cannot remember how long it took me to eat all the chocolates, but I kept the box and still feel so thankful!

BL: If you had to pick a downside to your job, what would it be?

BE: I cannot think of a job without a downside! Well, sometimes a lawyer’s job can push you (or rather you find you have to push yourself) to your physical limits, and not leave you much time to spend with your family, sometimes also on weekends and holidays. When I was a younger lawyer without family obligations, this unavoidable part of life in a law firm was somewhat easier to bear. I recently had to work from home over a typically rainy weekend in Brussels, which becomes more difficult when my two-year old is urging me to play with him instead! There is also some administrative work which a more senior lawyer has to do which is not much of a reward. Still, I am convinced that most downsides are (somehow) manageable, and the chances of many upsides of the job of a lawyer in Brussels are much more pronounced than the risks of any unmanageable downsides!