Wilson Sonsini doubles automation with new S-1 tool


  • New application, “WS-1”, developed with the Workiva platform
  • Automates ‘low value’ copywriting work, company says

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(Reuters) – Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati has launched its latest effort to partly automate legal work for clients, this time with technology designed to help go public companies prepare the ever-important SEC S-1 form.

The Silicon Valley-based law firm, long known for helping tech startups and clients raise capital, on Monday unveiled “WS-1”, the app it developed with the software company Workiva Inc.

In its announcement, the company said WS-1 is “the most complex automation project Wilson Sonsini has ever tackled.”

The company has taken several other technology development steps this year that, like WS-1, are aimed directly at fast-growing companies.

In February, Wilson Sonsini signed an agreement to allow clients using the company’s internal capitalization management software to switch to one of Morgan Stanley’s platforms.

And in a similar announcement to Monday’s, the company in June unveiled a new software platform, dubbed Neuron, to streamline the legal needs of its client startups.

David Wang, chief innovation officer for Wilson Sonsini, said that like Neuron, WS-1 uses technology to power legal departments and enables lawyers at the firm to collaborate with clients through the platform. A distinction between the two, however, is that the company developed Neuron in-house, while WS-1 was built on top of Workiva’s existing platform, Wang said.

WS-1 is designed to improve productivity by taking “the more mechanical parts of the drafting process, streamlining it and making it easier,” according to associate Michael Nordtvedt, who leads the capital markets practice of the ‘business.

The offer could significantly reduce the time pre-IPO companies have to spend on writing the registration dossier, a task that the company said in its announcement could normally take a company over 950 hours.

S-1s contain a wealth of information for the public and the United States Securities and Exchange Commission, including on financial performance, shareholders, and corporate structure.

Lawyers for Wilson Sonsini have worked on many of these key disclosures over the decades. The company has represented large companies like Apple Inc and Google Inc in their IPOs.

The firm has advised 30 initial public offerings so far in 2021, with a total value of $ 30 billion, he said.

Wang said Wilson Sonsini plans to build on the current capabilities of the WS-1 and automate more parts of the IPO process.

“The fact that this process is going fully digital is a given,” he said. “I think we’re the first law firm to do something about this trend.”

In other tech-related efforts, Wilson Sonsini has invested in Lexion, an artificial intelligence-backed contract management startup, and is seeing automated products come out through its tech affiliate, SixFifty.

Read more:

Wilson Sonsini revamps startup practices with technology-powered platform

Wilson Sonsini signs deal with Morgan Stanley to offer start-up stock plan software


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