Interview with: David Hertz, Chairman, Werksmans Attorneys
Werksmans Attorneys | View firm profile
Managing partner David Hertz explains how Werksmans Attorneys is adapting to clients’ changing needs
What do you see as the main points that differentiate Werksmans Attorneys from your competitors?
Our strategy and market differentiators remain:
3) LEX Africa (our networks)
4) Specialist work
5) Relationships on all levels with clients and staff – our people remain our greatest asset.
Which practices do you see growing in the next 12 months? What are the drivers behind that?
The three practice groups that Werksmans envisages growing over the next 12 months are:
- Corporate and debt restructuring;
- Tax; and
- Business crimes and Investigations.
The negative economic position within South Africa is likely to persist, at least in the short term. As more and more corporates are placed under pressure, there will be an escalating need to restructure their businesses and address their mounting debt.
With the slowdown in economic growth the fiscus is making more aggressive demands for payment of tax and that area of Werksmans’ practice, which has experienced exponential growth, envisages that the growth will continue. We are also advising an increasing number of high net-worth individuals in relation to the structuring of their personal affairs and corporates, their business affairs which is contributing to this growth.
With the endemic corruption that has plagued the country and the desire to eradicate it, there has been an ever increasing demand for the services offered by our Business Crimes and Investigations practice group.
What’s the main change you’ve made in the firm that will benefit clients?
The most recent viable metric is our key client programme. This focused programme extends across the firm and provides us with the ideal platform to regularly engage with clients in order to facilitate measured improvement and client growth.
As is set out above, Werksmans’ size is regarded as one of its key differentiating metrics. A quality service is delivered by a focused team of individuals who are the leaders in their chosen fields.
Is technology changing the way you interact with your clients, and the services you can provide them?
Yes, we look inside-out for (revenue) growth e.g. operational efficiencies and growing talent organically. Our focus remains being able to offer clients cost effectiveness and predictability based on continuous service delivery improvements and adoption of new technologies. Having the constant dialogue with our clients ensures we keep our services relevant to their business agendas and immediate business needs.
For our staff, we constantly keep looking for ways to re-engineer certain processes to help lawyers become more efficient and technically astute. We also encourage our lawyers to maintain and grow their levels of digital knowledge so that we continue to thrive in the future digital world.
Werksmans is in the process of adopting AI technology which will enable us to enhance the cost effective nature of the services we provide.
Can you give us a practical example of how you have helped a client to add value to their business?
By building relationships with our clients we gain an understanding at the coalface as it were as to their business imperatives and are therefore able to partner with them in addressing their requirements as opposed to merely being a service provider.
Are clients looking for stability and strategic direction from their law firms – where do you see the firm in three years’ time?
As the first demographically representative major South African legal firm. Werksmans has lead the way in identifying trends within the market and as a thought leader is in a position to guide clients’ as opposed to react to their needs.