Herbert Smith Freehills has moved 500 users onto corporate social networking platform Yammer and will shortly roll it out globally after a pilot has shown the potential to change the way teams operate and collaborate.

The UK top 10 firm obtained its licence in May 2016 and started a pilot around August 2016, with chief information officer Haig Tyler commenting: “It’s a platform that enables us to improve how we operate as a firm and really put people in touch with our global expertise.”

Yammer, the enterprise collaboration and information sharing platform bought by Microsoft for $1.2bn in 2012, allows users to create groups as they wish, with Herbert Smith Freehills’ only requirement that the groups be left open.

Already within the IT department Yammer is reaping noticeable benefits and Tyler said: “Within IT, some really interesting conversations have sparked up within groups who may not have had conversations.”

Often referred to as ‘Facebook for business’ (albeit Facebook has its own enterprise version, Workplace), Yammer is one of the tools law firms have long been looking at in the ‘what’s after email’ debate, that has seen Microsoft Lync and Skype for Business make more headway.

More visual than other online business social networking sites, Tyler adds: “Some of the real power [of Yammer] is the visuals – if we’re in a meeting there will generally be someone posting a photo on Yammer – it’s a really powerful way of communicating and there are all sorts of things we’re trying to do.”

Much like Facebook, there is a ‘Like’ button in Yammer and Tyler says: “It’s an amazingly powerful, positive addition. It’s interesting within the culture of any law firm as to how the culture changes to accept it – it gives us a real opportunity to think about changing how we work.”

Herbert Smith Freehills is looking this year to integrate Yammer, which is part of the Microsoft Office 365 suite, and Skype for Business within a single, global collaboration channel.

If it succeeds in transforming the way fee-earners collaborate it will be a rare breed among law firms. Daniel Pollick, chief information officer at DLA Piper said: “A lot of law firms have done lots of small scale collaboration projects – there’s Yammer, or our version of Twitter, called Grapevine, or multiple others. But, so far, I’m not aware of any law firm having implemented Yammer on a large scale so it becomes part of people’s lives. I wish them luck and applaud their efforts, because I believe the future long term is not email but working more collaboratively.”

Tell us your views – have you rolled out Yammer or a.n. other similar collaboration platform? What has the uptake been like? Either comment below or email caroline.hill@liti.co.uk

This story was first published in our January newsletter