Since being founded in the 1970s, Kneppelhout & Korthals has become a top 30 Dutch law firm and continues to be one of the fastest growing in the Netherlands. Based in Rotterdam, it has a 30 per cent non-domestic turnover and the in-house capability to do business in 14 different languages. The firm is currently focused on transforming from knowledge provider to service provider, whilst remaining dedicated to its core values of: commitment; pre-empting issues; respect; effectiveness; and transparency.

Identifying barriers to efficient matter management

In-line with the firm’s mission to be more client oriented, it reviewed its methods of managing matter related content and identified shortfalls. This presented several issues for the firm in relation to:

  • Transparency and collaboration. Clients were unable to access or amend their documents quickly, simply and independently; having to call or email requests.
  • Reduced productivity. Locating specific documents with cumbersome Outlook search functionality was very time consuming for fee-earners and ‘per fee-earner. Estimates suggested that 12 minutes per day, per fee-earning, was being lost searching for documents.
  • Disjointed working practices. Multiple systems could not share information, risking duplication and version control issues.
  • Compliance risk. Working with international clients and expanding legislation, the Outlook-centric method was failing to support robust compliance-based processes and procedures.
  • Focus. Matter management through Outlook was distracting for employees, who were constantly being bombarded with emails, notifications and pop-ups.

Kneppelhout & Korthals’ managing partner, Olaf van Haperen, said: “Strategically, the need to move to a more joined-up approach to managing client documentation was clear. All of the firm’s databases and systems operated in isolation, posing a risk to future business success. Operationally, document management via Outlook was limited. It took excessive time to locate documentation, the workspace was very inefficient, and it needed to change.”

Living and breathing the vision and values

To deliver on this new openness and champion transparency, productivity, compliance and effective working practices, Kneppelhout & Korthals needed a new document management system (DMS). The aim was to be fully transparent with clients, to have no boundaries and provide the ability to look into systems and see everything that concerns their clients’ businesses.

With over 20 years of delivering DMS solutions to the Legal market worldwide, Contentworker by Formpipe was one of the systems examined following Kneppelhout & Korthals’ review. Its proven intuitive technology, which is fully accessible on remote devices, and matter-centric set-up perfectly matched the firm’s plans to encourage staff to move to a matter management approach, without the need for excessive training.

Commenting on the selection process, Olaf van Haperen said: “Contentworker is built on tried and tested technology, which was a big selling point for us. No-one wants unproven technology with so much at stake. The matter-centric workspace was also a key selling point. Contentworker was chosen unanimously by our workers, as they loved the focus on the matter at hand, and not being side-tracked by emails dropping in all the time.”

Other key decision points:

  • Cost of ownership. The software as a service (SaaS) model removes the need for expensive license fees and maintenance costs.
  • Ease of use. It’s an intuitive, out-of-the-box solution that requires little customization or training.
  • Powerful search. Sophisticated document search functionality that help users locate documents with ease, speed and precision.
  • Native integration with Microsoft Office. This makes Contentworker uniquely free from lost edits in documents and delivers co-authoring capabilities.
  • Rapid innovation. Contentworker is constantly updated and fine-tuned to provide cutting edge functionality.

Enabling client transparency and promoting productivity

The system’s attributes also helped Kneppelhout & Korthals deliver on its vision of a more streamlined Microsoft landscape, something of strategic importance for the firm that now benefits from the ability to house each and every new contact, new matter, and new client within its Microsoft 365 CRM platform. This integration and automatic sharing of data between systemsis creating better connected working practices, driving efficiency and productivity, and making tasks both easier and more enjoyable for users.

With multiple non-domestic clients, requiring in depth discovery requests, the previous method of conducting these vital duediligence based assessments meant trawling back through years’ worth of files and records housed within a cumbersome, inboxled system. This process could take hours or even days to locate all the required files and documents, with the time spent classed as ‘non-billable’ and thus posing a risk to optimum performance and profitability. With Contentworker in place, Kneppelhout & Korthals can access what they need in an instant – safeguarding compliance and saving time and money in the process.

Summarising his thoughts on the implementation, Olaf van Harperen, concludes: “It used to be that systems and databases couldn’t talk to one another. Now we can find matter-related documents instantly. Contentworker has transformed our lawyers from inbox-managers to client-focused and efficient legal service providers. The first step in any such transformation is implementing a fit for purpose document management system and I have full confidence that that’s what we’ve achieved thanks to Contentworker.”