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Customer Stories

Webber Wentzel accelerates digital transformation with iManage and Microsoft

Lawyers get back 18 minutes per hour after embracing change with iManage Work 10 in the Cloud

Respected law firm Webber Wentzel wanted to transform the way their lawyers worked. They knew that embracing iManage Work in the Cloud with Microsoft 365 would offer the productivity improvements they needed to work in a more client-centric way. After they made the upgrade, the firm was able to save lawyers 18 minutes per hour and shorten their trade council submission process from seven months to three weeks.

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. Webber Wentzel’s market-leading position is reinforced by numerous accolades and achievements.

The business challenge

Developing a new business model

As a forward-thinking law firm, Webber Wentzel saw shifts 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 at Webber Wentzel. “We realized that to have the leeway to introduce a new kind of business model, we have to be able to deliver a degree of productivity improvement. Ultimately, we envisage that our business model would be much more value oriented and outcome oriented with our clients.”

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.


Johannesburg, South Africa




iManage Work 10 in the Cloud

iManage Insight


  • Completed upgrade in 4 months, not 12
  • Saved lawyers 18 minutes per hour
  • Cut work time to completion on large submissions
  • Tight integration with Microsoft 365

About partner

Co-Operative Computing offers comprehensive business process automation solutions and support services for professional and corporate business services.


At Webber Wentzel we think about our human capital platform as a repository of our academic knowledge, and iManage as a repository of our behavioral knowledge, and we put those together to understand what our core capabilities are.

Warren Hero, CIO, Webber Wentzel

The solution

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, it meant fully embracing the synergistic capabilities of using iManage Work in the Cloud and Microsoft 365 together.

“We already work mostly in Windows 10, but in changing our technology interface, we needed to move to Microsoft 365 and iManage Work 10 in the Cloud. We needed to use iManage as our repository of record to drive interaction with our clients, but also internally in the organization,” Hero extrapolates.

Hero initially planned on a 12-month process for making the technology upgrades. But when the pandemic hit, the Technology Advisory Committee asked to accelerate the change so that lawyers could access Work in the iManage Cloud without a VPN, making it easier to work remotely.

“We still had a lot of last-mile problems in terms of connectivity. That ability to connect without a VPN, because of Office 365 and some of the other multi-factor authentication options we introduced, gave our firm the ability to work more flexibly,” says Hero 

An easy upgrade and time saved for users

Fortunately, familiarity with the previous versions meant the teams at Webber Wentzel took quickly to using Work 10 in the Cloud and Microsoft 365. Implementation partner Co-operative Computing also helped to ensure that the upgrade was a smooth process. Very little training was needed to get users up to speed on the upgraded technology. In fact, the transition was so frictionless that the process took only four months versus the planned twelve months — a stunning success leading to productivity gains that gave lawyers 18 minutes back per hour.

Business outcomes

Taking an onerous process from 7 months to 3 weeks

As part of the Webber Wentzel digital transformation, Hero wanted to address a time-consuming process at the firm: trade council submissions. “These large, regulated submissions used to take in the region of about seven months to complete,” Hero explained.

After studying the current process, Hero realized that encouraging people to view the same document and collaborate in real time using iManage Work in the Cloud was going to be critical to speeding things up. He also saw that having the right folder structure in place in Work and ensuring everyone understood how to progress a letter through that structure would make the process a lot smoother.

Hero worked with the firm’s knowledge management team to implement legal project management procedures to support this and improved the virtual meeting system to ensure that submissions weren’t held up due to an inability to get the right people into a room at the same time.

The results were impressive. “With iManage Work as our knowledge repository, plus the legal project management, improved process, and collaboration, we took the process from seven months down to three weeks,” Hero reports.

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 adds that application integrations between iManage and Microsoft such as the ability to read an email in Outlook and file it into iManage are invaluable to the firm.

“We were able to design a highly available system with Work on Microsoft Azure," Hero elaborates. "Being able to be productive when we need to be in Work 10 in the Cloud, where we do about 90% of our revenue-generating work, is absolutely critical." He says that, once you create the filing logic, that process kicks itself off — one of the new benefits of the Microsoft Power Platform.

"Power Apps enables us to kick off workflows and to see that tight collaboration between Microsoft products and the iManage platform.”  

18 min

Saved per lawyer per hour

7 mo to 3 wks

Large, regulated submissions

8 mo

Saved on transition

Strategic transformation and finding ways to give back 

In addition to streamlining processes and saving lawyers valuable time, digital transformation has helped Webber Wentzel refine their vision and get closer to their goal of being more client centric.

“The executive committee, the board, and the partnership realized that technology is no longer just a supporting part of our business, but actually a strategic enabler. And because of that perspective, we took another look at our organization’s mission and vision,” says Hero.

“Part of what we interrogated was that sometimes this vision or mission is stuck on a wall somewhere, but we wanted something more," he adds. "We believe in a digital context; an organization needs to be purpose driven. Part of the way we thought about that purpose is that we want to be transformative through our work and our actions.”

For Webber Wentzel, technology is essential to doing transformative work.

“When we think about transformation, we think about both the operational transformation and the strategic transformation," says Hero. "The operational transformation is about productivity improvements, and the strategic transformation is using the time gained not to enrich ourselves, but to find a way to give back to our community, to give back to our clients, and to become a trusted advisor.”

Using technology to achieve desired client outcomes 

iManage and Microsoft are crucial components of Webber Wentzel's effort to become that trusted advisor. While Microsoft Dynamics helps Webber Wentzel better understand client sentiment, iManage Work, in addition to securely managing documents, serves as a repository for behavioral knowledge that helps the firm assign the right lawyers to clients or matters.

“At Webber Wentzel we think about our human capital platform as a repository of our academic knowledge, and iManage as a repository of our behavioral knowledge, and we put those together to understand what our core capabilities are,” says Hero.

Hero says that when a matter arrives at Webber Wentzel, the firm takes a data-driven approach, bringing together information from their applications to create a skill map of the individual's knowledge and work behavior, and matching that to the matter or an outcome the client wants.

Pairing iManage Insight with AI capabilities 

Webber Wentzel has also employed iManage Insight to make finding the right information even easier in Work. They estimate a partner spends at least 15 minutes every two hours searching for stuff, making the ability to shorten that time very compelling. Pairing iManage Insight with artificial intelligence capabilities at the firm, they've made it faster and easier for lawyers to understand the content of documents in iManage Work.

As Hero explains, the capability to use technology to quickly understand a document gives Webber Wentzel the ability to consistently ensure that they understand the context when they exchange dialogue with a client, and that they understand where the risks are.

Looking ahead

For Hero and Webber Wentzel, 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. The firm is watching the iManage and Microsoft roadmaps closely so they can take advantage of new features as they are available. Hero and his team are also looking to improve productivity through automation and bots. Innovation isn’t just a buzzword at Webber Wentzel — it is a way of life.

Making Knowledge Work

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