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Customer Stories

Robbins Russell moves growing firm into the cloud

Essential features like version indexing, search experience, consistent uptime, audit trails, and secure mobile access make iManage the right choice 

Founded in 2001 by five partners, Robbins Russell discovered as the firm grew that their shared network drive no longer served as the best solution for their document needs. After reviewing competing products, they ultimately chose iManage Work in the Cloud primarily for the ability to search for previous versions of files. iManage Work in the Cloud offered the features the firm wanted with the security and audit trails their clients required.

Robbins Russell is a boutique firm that provides experienced representation in high-stakes legal matters such as trial litigation; Supreme Court and general appellate litigation; and government investigations and enforcement proceedings. The firm's clients include numerous Fortune 500 companies, financial institutions, hedge funds, defense contractors, technology companies, and major accounting firms. They also represent a wide variety of mid-sized companies, government entities, associations, and individuals.

The business challenge

A growing firm and growing volume of files

Robbins Russell had grown to include almost twenty attorneys when Dana Wesley Sarti, Litigation Support Manager, joined the firm.

“Robbins Russell had started out thinking ‘We don’t need bureaucracy,’ which they interpreted to include all these systems, including document management,” Sarti shares. Instead, the firm relied on a shared network drive which initially had little required structure. Although the firm slowly imposed more organization in their files, they found that with a growing firm and growing file numbers, their ad-hoc process was no longer cutting it.

“We had a very structured approach but it was not standardized," Sarti elaborates. "We needed our data organized, and we had an increasing need for version tracking — especially where documents were going out to clients and co-counsel and coming back, and we would be wondering who held the pen, so to speak.”

The volume of work combined with the volume of documents was leading to an increased risk of mistakes and wasted time. The firm was now aligned on the need for a new document management system (DMS), and they were also aligned on another critical element: they didn’t want an on-premises solution.

“We don’t have an in-house IT person, and — as a small firm — we didn’t want to pay to maintain whole new boxes in our server room, so a cloud DMS seemed like a really good thing for those reasons,” said Sarti. Perhaps even more importantly, the firm’s lawyers were often out of the office in meetings, or in court, which meant the mobility the cloud offered was paramount.


Washington, DC




iManage Work

iManage Cloud

iManage Security Policy Manager


  • Data organization and security 
  • Improved searchability
  • Simplified compliance
  • Enhanced mobility
  • Consistent uptime 


The amount of overhead and the amount of expertise one has to have in house compared to the cost of having iManage in the Cloud makes the choice between on-premises and the cloud, in my mind, not even a competition.

Dana Wesley Sarti, Litigation Support Manager, Robbins Russell

The solution

Searchability: a deciding factor in choosing iManage

With the cloud in mind, Robbins Russell started reviewing their DMS options. Although they considered several competing products, they ultimately chose iManage based on a critical feature: version indexing.

“We chose iManage because the chief competitor product could only index official final versions. You could not search for the interim versions using that product, but you could in iManage. We decided that was a feature we needed,” said Sarti.

Robbins Russell wanted to accommodate different search styles and ensure that everyone could find what they needed in iManage Work, so they convened several pilot groups to find out what their users were looking for in their new document management system. As a result of this process, the firm was able to set up its folder structures to reflect how users actually worked.

Training paves the way to success

With the right folder structure in place, Robbins Russell began training their users to increase adoption rates. As Sarti put it, “Don’t cheap out on the training.” The pilot groups and training proved to be the secrets to success for Robbins Russell.

“Because we got the training up and we got it rolling and we got it right, our onboarding has been easy for subsequent users,” Sarti adds.

Business outcomes

Consistent uptime, everywhere

Right away, Robbins Russell users benefitted from industry-leading, reliable, iManage uptime. This was a significant improvement over their on-premises shared file drive, which needed backups and updates that required system downtime.

“One of the things that helped the pain of learning new systems better immediately is that it was always available. That was fantastic," said Sarti.

With the consistent uptime and superior mobility that iManage Work in the Cloud offered, users could access their files from anywhere. This was a huge plus when their lawyers and staff were working outside of the office and made it much easier to remain productive during the pandemic.

As Sarti explained, “Being in the cloud was so liberating in terms of knowing where stuff is and being able to get to it no matter what’s going on back at the office. Many of our users were mobile and getting to iManage from the web without having to go through a VPN or the office search." 


Attorneys using iManage


Original partners


Year founded

Audit trails and simplified security prove invaluable 

One of the first things that Robbins Russell did, post-deployment, was to add iManage Security Policy Manager. For a small firm like Robbins Russell, this simplified security considerably. Previously, the firm had relied on active directory groups, which were more cumbersome to set up and to view document security at a glance. Security Policy Manager makes it easy to see who has access to read and/or author, who did what, and when.

In addition to the concerns addressed by Security Policy Manager, iManage Work offers another key feature: audit trails. Robbins Russell has several clients that have HIPAA requirements. With their original file system, Sarti said, “Until we got our data into iManage, it was horrifically onerous to document access to information that the firm is obligated to keep confidential. The audit trails in iManage Work make it much easier to meet these requirements."

Satisfied users and clients

Robbins Russell users adapted well to the new technology, albeit not without some growing pains during their transition. “But we have done very little formal training for the last two years, as iManage Work is just that intuitive,” said Sarti.

The firm’s clients have also been satisfied with the change. “Our clients were encouraged to learn that the data in iManage Cloud was at least as secure as it had been in the legacy system and they all seemed quite comfortable with the move,” said Sarti.

Looking ahead

Robbins Russell is taking steps to move to Work 10. The firm is also, in Sarti’s words, “following with great enthusiasm” the work that iManage is doing with Microsoft, particularly the integration with Microsoft Teams.

Meanwhile, Sarti is happy with the firm’s choice to move straight to iManage Cloud for their document management. “The amount of overhead and expertise one has to have in house compared to the cost of having iManage Work in the Cloud makes the choice between on-premises and the cloud, in my mind, not even a competition,” she concludes.

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