Meet the first UK lawyer to really research and investigate the legal and contractual issues of BIM
May Winfield, Senior Legal Counsel at ENGIE, was the first lawyer in the UK to really research and investigate the legal and contractual issues of BIM. For May, BIM is a process – not a software – which helps us achieve lower costs, shorter time and better quality and efficiency.
Ahead of her talk at BIM Show Live, we spoke to May about her own experiences of BIM and where it all began for her, and where she is headed next.
What is your current role?
I am currently a Senior Legal Counsel at ENGIE. However, I will soon be joining BuroHappold Engineering as an Associate Director.
What does BIM mean to you and how do you use/implement digital construction methodology on your projects?
Whilst many aspects of BIM technology are arguably not new and have been in use for some time, BIM is a process and not a software. The old adage is that one can only have two of the three benefits in the famous triangle of costs, time and quality. However, BIM gives the potential to achieve lower costs, shorter time and better quality and efficiency. By its nature, it requires parties to work in a more collaborative way, which in turn benefits parties overall. The ability to ‘build twice’ (i.e. first virtually using BIM) means not only fewer expensive on-site variations, but also improved H&S. I have witnessed how BIM (including 4D BIM) has been used to avoid potential H&S issues or higher risk working programmes. BIM also appears to have served as a catalyst for technological development within the construction industry, with VR/AR, 3D printing and more becoming not just future concepts, but working reality.
I am a construction solicitor, with a specialism in BIM and related technologies. Since attending my first BIM events in 2011, I have advised and acted for consultants, contractors and insurers in preparation of BIM processes, defending and preparing BIM-related disputes, and drafting of bespoke BIM documentation. May’s previous roles include being a senior solicitor in Carillion’s construction and infrastructure team, taking the lead on all BIM legal matters and documentation in UK and UAE projects. At my current role in ENGIE, I am in the process of finalising a BIM data management guidance note for application in the ENGIE group companies across Europe.
When did you first start working with BIM?
I was the first lawyer in the UK to really research and investigate the legal and contractual issues of BIM, starting in 2011.
I am the author or co-author of the three existing leading reports regarding legal issues of BIM, namely the acclaimed Winfield Rock Report, the award-winning Society of Construction Law paper, ‘Building Information Modelling: The Legal Frontier’, and the King’s College report, ‘Enabling BIM through Procurement & Contracts’.
I am co-founder and chair of BIM4Legal, a neutral forum established to support and progress understanding and knowledge sharing of BIM among the legal community and those in industry who instruct them. BIM4Legal was mentioned by speakers, David Philp and Anne Kemp, during the recent ISO19650 launch event.
I am a committee member of the BSI/555 Committee for the ISO19650 Transitional Guidance, as well as a committee member for the ISO19650 Guidance Framework Committee. I am tasked with the drafting of the legal/contractual elements of the Guidance Framework, assisted by a smaller working group I have put together. I am leading a working group which is preparing a Practice Note on BIM for the JCT. I am also a committee member of the CDBB’s Roadmap Working Group.
Why should BIM Show Live visitors attend your talk?
The Winfield Rock Report was launched exclusively at BIM Show Live in February 2018. Over the past year, it has been downloaded over a thousand times by people from across the world, including countries like Kuwait and the US and has been cited as a leading reference paper in talks in countries as far away as India. It has also been nominated in the Digital & BIM Initiative category of the Building Awards 2018.
A Building Magazine review said that they “would recommend it to anyone interested in BIM”. Meanwhile, an Eversheds Sutherland review proclaimed that “it is essential reading for anyone in construction”.
But did the report make waves and push the revolution that the authors intended?
In this talk, I will examine for the first time, the impact of the Report – including the changes it brought to the CIC BIM Protocol, upcoming national-level legal guidance being prepared and the development of BIM4Legal – as well as considering how we build on this progress and capture the current enthusiasm of our legal representatives. This will include thoughts on the effect of the ISO19650; helped by the fact May is on the BSI committee for the ISO19650 Transitional Guidance, and the Working Group for the ISO19650 Guidance Framework and is leading the sub-working committee for the legal/contractual section of this Guidance Framework.
The Winfield Rock Report returns for a special, updated state of the nation review of the progress made in legal and contractual BIM.
What technologies in the AEC industry currently impress you the most?
There are so many new and exciting developments in technology that it is hard to pick just a few! I think the technologies with the most immediate benefits and potential impact are:
VR/AR (as these can assist both at client level – to understand proposed design/construction issues – and at designer/contractor level – including enabling more efficient maintenance of the completed asset)
Internet of Things (the powerful possibilities of inter-connecting different technologies and data, as being explored in the UK via the development of Digital Twins – see the Gemini Principles on the CDBB website – and in other places, like the amazing concept of Neom, being built in the Middle East)
Self-healing concrete (I once read that reinforced concrete was one of the greatest ever inventions in construction. However, are developments like self-healing concrete and similar the next step on in great concrete inventions, as they could provide great cost savings and better quality of buildings/quality of life for inhabitants)
3D printing (discussed in my article on BIM+)
What do you think will be the next big thing in BIM and digital construction?
I think there may not be the next ‘big thing’ in BIM, but rather a refinement and development of existing processes and technologies and in particular, a better inter-connectivity between these different technologies, software and processes – the Internet of Things being a big example of this.
I think there will be a continued growing awareness and drive towards sustainability and more collaborative mindset. The latter could, arguably, be called one of the major important developments within our industry as a lack of collaboration and/or a collaborative mindset can throw up obstacles to BIM, innovation and efficiency generally.
From a technological development perspective, I think the next big things will be those technologies I mentioned in the previous section.
May will be presenting at BIM Show Live on Wednesday 27 February at 16:30pm: ‘The Winfield Rock Report: what happened after BSL 2018?’. She will also be chairing a UK BIM Alliance panel discussion on Thursday 28 February at 12:30pm, entitled ‘The Golden Thread – what it means to me’