DLA Piper’s new proptech practice to be led by Chicago partners

The 200-attorney global practice will focus on corporate law for startups, property owners and investors in new real estate tech

TRD CHICAGO /
Jan.January 28, 2019 01:00 PM

Greg Grossman and Heidi Azulay

Corporate law titan DLA Piper chose two partners from its Chicago office to head a new multinational proptech practice that will focus on representing tech companies and their backers while joining them with potential real estate users.

Heidi Azulay and Greg Grossman will oversee about 100 attorneys nationally and 200 across the company’s 40 global offices, the company said. The lawyers will represent startups forming corporate boards, property owners looking for new technology and investors trying to break into the growing proptech space.

Attorneys will also advise tech companies on data management, security and privacy law.

“We’ve been doing proptech informally for at least the past 10 years on an informal basis, but we’ve seen such an explosion of growth in this field, it made sense to put together a more formalized group,” Azulay said.

The new practice also will focus on connecting longtime real estate clients with emerging tech firms, she said.

DLA Piper already represents companies including WeWork, CBRE and MetaProp, a New York-based tech accelerator that announced an initiative to invest in affordable housing startups. Its zoning attorneys routinely represent developers on major developments across the country.

The firm last year represented sellers in New York City on $1.14 billion in transactions, the third-most of any firm.

Brokerages also have been rushing into proptech, as a barrage of new technologies from virtual reality to 3D-printing threaten to upend the real estate industry. CBRE ramped up its tech division in 2017 with the acquisition of startup Floored, and JLL last year launched a $100 million fund called JLL Spark to acquire and grow technology companies.

They join real estate venture capital firms like MetaProp, Fifth Wall and Camber Creek, the latter of which backed appraisal startup Bowery this month.


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