U and I Group PLC, the UK's leading mixed-use regeneration developer, has recently completed a review of its UK legal panel, with all five firms comprising Hogan Lovells, Clyde & Co, Gowling WLG, Osborne Clarke and CMS retaining their spots. The panel firms will continue to be deployed on all UK property projects.
The process was overseen by Stewart Whittle, U+I's Group General Counsel in collaboration with Julian Danobeitia, executive coach and director of DowntheCorridor, a specialist coaching and consulting firm that helps lawyers and other professionals differentiate in increasingly crowded markets.
A decision was taken to explore the relationship-based approach to running the panel review, which unlike the traditional paper based review process, focuses on people. It provides an experience of what it feels like to work with those involved in the process rather than assessing a firm on solely objectively measurable criteria.
This particular review involved all parties working together on identifying and sharing what they saw as their own strengths and weaknesses, challenges, and opportunities. Sessions took place on a monthly basis with assignments set between sessions; the work culminated in a plan which has assured the ongoing working relationships between all the firms and U+I.
U+I Group General Counsel, Stewart Whittle, said: "We are delighted to be continuing to work with such a strong panel of firms. In going through this process, we believe we have formed the basis of a rigorous tender process. We understand that firms devote substantial resources at considerable cost to responding to RFPs and their ilk, often without success. This shared approach and the suite of tools we used, whilst not new, are rarely used for developing relationships between the law firms.
"It has proven to be really effective both for ourselves as well as the panel firms involved. It has provided greater transparency, greater trust, ensured the effectiveness of our working relationships and has also delivered efficiencies in service and cost. We look forward to working with all our selected partners as we continue to reinvent and regenerate sites across London City Regions, Manchester and Dublin."
Over the last year U+I has received positive planning decisions at some iconic sites including Phase 1, Mayfield in the heart of Manchester and at 8 Albert Embankment, London SE1.
A spokesperson on behalf of U+I's Panel said: "It has been both inspiring and rewarding to participate in U+I's journey towards the creation of a collaborative legal panel. The journey has provided an opportunity to take a fresh look at how we deliver services to and build sustainable relationships at all levels with our clients. Furthermore, U+I's unique approach to its law firm panel provides the opportunity and the incentive to share knowledge and learn from one another."