by Robert Wood, partner and head of office, Osborne Clarke, Thames Valley.
Being based in the UK’s number one technology cluster means that businesses in Reading and the Thames Valley are used to being at the forefront of innovation.
And as one of the region’s top tier corporate law firms – a fact recognised once again in this year’s The Legal 500 rankings – Osborne Clarke is continually striving to reinvent the way in which it delivers legal services.
The firm is investing heavily in technology and our people are trained to ensure they understand the commercial and legal implications of the technology-driven transformation and disruption which is affecting our clients.
At the centre of this is the launch of Osborne Clarke Solutions, a cutting-edge innovation team who work directly with our lawyers and clients to build practical solutions to real problems.
Our Osborne Clarke Solutions team collaborates directly with clients to create bespoke platforms that are built around their needs. The online interactive platforms the team develop can track multiple projects, deals or transactions in real-time, share information with key stakeholders, capture, analyse and discover insights from the data captured and do so in a way that’s designed and built for our clients.
By bringing all of their information together in one place, Osborne Clarke Solutions provides a single source of ‘truth’ across multiple devices that can save time and money.
The result is greater transparency, more control over cost and risk, and a faster, more efficient approach to legal workflows.
Making technology the enabler in this way can be truly transformational for a business - as The Waterfront Limited Partnership (WLP) has discovered.
WLP is a joint venture between Crosstree and AEG (Europe), which owns and has developed the Icon Outlet at The O2, a 205,000 sq ft, 90-unit designer shopping village which opened recently.
Our real estate team was appointed to advise on the leasing of the retail and food and drink units at Icon and worked with Osborne Clarke Solutions and WLP to build a multi-functional, interactive online platform which:
• allows heads of terms and legal documentation to be automated online with data inputted once at the start of each transaction
• allows multiple team members to view/edit status reports
• delivers a ‘traffic light’ system identifying the status of key transaction steps
• provides document storage and sharing between the legal and client-side project teams
• includes an interactive dashboard for key information.
Our platform aids communication, speeds up transactions and reduces the number of data inputs; allows real-time simultaneous access to information for multiple project parties; enables document automation to aid efficiency and consistency; delivers centralised reporting; and includes a diary function to ensure key milestones are identified and actioned. It can even be adapted post-project to deliver an asset management tool.
Speed is key in this project and it can be measured in a transparent way while trends can be identified and solutions found to seemingly immovable obstacles. We estimate that the time incurred on each transaction is now 20% less than that on a ‘traditional’ transaction.
While our work with the Waterfront Limited Partnership is at the forefront of the latest thinking, we are seeing a rapid increase in the number of formal arrangements between technology developers and the property community. Earlier this year Osborne Clarke published innovative research looking at this trend, showcasing how our strong cross-sector legal expertise interconnects with clients’ digital, economic and regulatory challenges.
Our research: Future Proof Real Estate – Is The Property Sector Ready For The 2020s? focuses on the impact of technology across key asset classes and compares these across several major European cities.
As the Icon Outlet becomes established as a leading shopping and leisure destination for millions of people across London and the South East – and beyond – the work carried out by our team will enable its owners and operators to deliver increasing efficiency and transparency, staying ahead of the curve in a fast-moving retail environment.