Webber Wentzel is a South African law firm that aims to work alongside its clients as a trusted advisor, delivering world-class legal expertise and innovative thinking. They knew that embracing iManage Work in the Cloud with Microsoft Office 365 would offer the productivity improvements they needed to work in a more client-centric way. After they made the upgrade with the help of Co-operative Computing, the firm was able to save lawyers 18 minutes per hour and shorten their trade council submission process from seven months to three weeks.
Developing a new business model
As a forward-thinking law firm, Webber Wentzel saw several years ago that shifts were occurring in the traditional working model.
“I think it's a global trend, where clients are starting to move away from the billable hour concept. And as we looked at our own digital transformation, we were trying to conceptualize what an alternative or new business model would look like for us,” said Warren Hero, CIO, Webber Wentzel.
To achieve this “new kind of business model” and get closer to their goal of being more client oriented, Warren Hero envisioned a digital transformation that would offer a new way of working for the firm’s lawyers.
Embracing a brand-new technological interface
Hero wanted to update and streamline the entire technological interface that Webber Wentzel lawyers interacted with every day. At a base level, that meant getting the latest versions of all their solutions. Looking at the big picture, however, it meant fully embracing the synergistic capabilities of iManage Work in the Cloud and Microsoft Office 365 used together.
In early 2020, Hero was initially planning on a 12-month process for making technology upgrades. But when the pandemic hit, the Technology Advisory Committee asked to accelerate the change so that lawyers could access Work in the Cloud without a VPN, making it easier to work remotely.
An easy upgrade and time saved for users
The teams at Webber Wentzel took quickly to the changes being made. Because of their previous familiarity with Work 9 and Windows 10, they largely found Work in the Cloud and Office 365 to be very intuitive. Implementation partner Co-operative Computing also helped to ensure that the upgrade was a smooth process.
As a result, very little training was needed to get users up to speed on the upgraded technology. The transition was so frictionless, in fact, that the planned 12-month process ultimately took only four months—a stunning success that led to enormous time savings. With the productivity gains from the new technology, lawyers now had an additional 18 minutes back per hour.
Shortening a process from months to weeks
As part of the Webber Wentzel digital transformation, Hero wanted to address a time-consuming process at the firm: trade council submissions, which at that time took seven months to complete.
Hero worked with the firm’s knowledge management team to implement legal project management procedures, while also improving the virtual meeting system to ensure that submissions weren’t held up because the right people weren’t able to get into the same room at the same time.
The results were impressive. “With iManage Work as our knowledge repository, plus the legal project management, plus the improved process, plus the collaboration aspect, we were able to take the process down from seven months to three weeks,” Hero enthused.
iManage and Microsoft are better together
The strengthened partnership between iManage and Microsoft and the implementation assistance from partner Co-operative Computing were both, in Hero’s words, “colossal factors” in the productivity improvements that Webber Wentzel made.
He elaborated, “We were able to design a highly available system [with Work on Microsoft Azure]. Being able to be productive when you need to be productive in Work in the Cloud, where we do about 90% of our revenue-generating work, is absolutely critical.”
Saving time with AI
Webber Wentzel has also been employing iManage Insight to make it easier to find the right information in Work.
Hero enthused, “We anticipate a partner spends at least 15 minutes every two hours searching for stuff. The ability to get rid of the time spent searching becomes significantly powerful.”
By pairing Insight with other artificial intelligence capabilities at the firm, it is now much faster and easier for lawyers to understand the content of documents housed in iManage Work.
For Webber Wentzel and Hero, the firm’s digital transformation is not a one-and-done change, but an ongoing process toward their goal of a new, more client-centric way of working. Going forward, the firm is watching the iManage and Microsoft roadmaps closely so they can prepare to take advantage of new features as they are available. Hero and his team are also looking at further ways to improve productivity through automation and bots. Innovation isn’t just a buzzword at Webber Wentzel—it is a way of life.