Following an extensive process that began in the Spring of 2019 to select a document and email management system for the 4,300 people in its international team, Eversheds Sutherland has selected iManage, we can reveal.

The new system, which is an OpenText swapout and means OpenText is no longer in use among the UK top 30 law firms for document management, will ultimately be hosted both in the iManage elastic cloud with some on premises capability in order to meet client and jurisdictional requirements. Eversheds Sutherland International (ESI) has bought Threat Manager and Security Policy Manager, which were a standout feature for the selection team.

The design and implementation phase of the project will run throughout 2020.

Speaking to Legal IT Insider, IT director Will Jenkins said: “We really started in detail in around March or April last year with the objective of replacing our current DMS OpenText and making sure we have the right platform for the future to build as well as to grow and evolve.”

While ESI’s US business is an iManage customer (the transatlantic merger went live in February 2017) and that was inevitably a big factor in its favour, Jenkins says: “We evaluated the whole of the market, undertaking a full RFI, and as part of the process we tried to involve as many people from across the firm as possible. We received a huge amount of feedback from our practice groups and international operations team, our risk team, and our cyber security team and tried to make sure we fully evaluated the products. We were hugely keen to get buyer information from our lawyers and partners and make sure we had the right platform. We very much engaged with the business and the selection was very much in partnership with them.”

Included in the process was NetDocuments as well as lengthy consideration of a SharePoint/Office 365 document management system – ESI’s consulting business has developed a proprietary SharePoint DMS in conjunction with Repstor and for a long time the outside world suspected that this would be the direction the firm would go in while under the leadership of former IT head Andrew McManus. Jenkins, who took over from McManus following a team restructure, says that ultimately it was felt iManage was a better, more scalable solution for the needs of a global law firm.

The steering committee made the decision to go with iManage in around August or September last year and Jenkins adds: “Once we managed to shortlist the specific product, we’ve been making sure we have the right contractual arrangements in place.”

Eversheds becomes the latest international law firm to go with iManage and much like Clifford Chance, the decision-making process involved sponsors from across the firm. Jenkins says: “As part of the review we had a sponsor from each practice group and asked them for a review following demos.” Practice group sponsors were given a scoring system and all of the scores across practice groups were tallied up. The firm had a steering group sponsored by practice group head Paul Worth, but the group was ultimately sponsored by managing partner Keith Froud.

In terms of priorities, Jenkins said that the number one requirement was usability. “The way the iManage platform has evolved from the desktop and mobile has been great,” he said.

Second was ease of use. “For email filing we needed to make sure it could tie into existing systems,” Jenkins said.

Third was risk management. Jenkins told Legal IT Insider: “iManage’s data security and capability such as Threat Manager and Security Policy Manager really help make the product stand out and from lawyers and risk and compliance team were highly supportive of that. It gave us the functionality we need.” He adds: “We’re looking to drive efficiency in my team but also around how we protect our client data.” Eversheds is the latest firm to go down the pessimistic security route.

The extensive involvement of the firm in the DMS selection process is confirmation – as if we needed it – of the growth in status of technology in terms of law firm strategy.

Froud will say in a statement surrounding the selection: “Technology is of fundamental importance in the delivery of legal services to our clients and continues to be a major investment for the firm.

“The introduction of this new system from iManage is a key milestone in supporting the firm’s standing as an innovative law firm as we move to a modern, next- generation platform.”

Other big recent wins for iManage include Baker McKenzie.