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Case Study

Wilson Sonsini Launches 10 Legal Tools on Documate

WSGR builds 10 new apps on Documate
Expert systems help make decisions on CFIUS regulations
Document-generators streamline M&A process
"Build a Bot" program immerses summer associates in tech

The Silicon Valley firm representing leading venture capital firms and startups uses Documate to build 10 legal tools for internal and client use.

Wilson Sonsini has always been a law firm at the forefront of legal technology, representing innovative startups and leading venture capital firms. This summer, they took this a step further by immersing partners, associates and summer associates in Documate, the no-code platform for building legal applications.

As part of what the firm calls the "Build a Bot" program, attorneys across the organization worked together to build out "legal bots" in a variety of different practice areas. Some of these legal tools will be used internally at the firm, and others will be client-facing, with an eye toward collaboration, immersing the client further in the legal process.

Wilson Sonsini builds legal tools on Documate
David Wang, WSGR Chief Innovation Officer

The firm had initially experimented with a chatbot model but found that a chatbot limits the ability to gather information from a client and is not robust enough to generate complex documents.

The Documate platform is versatile, allowing the firm to create a chatbot-like tool where needed. Meanwhile, the firm can use Documate's complex decision-tree functionality to allow a user to answer questions that take them down any number of paths, add complex nested logic to documents, and generate multiple sets of documents or decisions. We can build both expert systems and document automation.

The firm has automated at least 10 different areas, and plans to automate more, ranging from basic NDAs to M&A docs, including:

  • A Merger bot to walk users through questions that populate documents required for a merger subsidiary
  • Bot to walk a user through drafting a board consent and approving option grants
  • Generate a SAFE agreement
  • Generate a series of documents for hiring employees and/or independent contractors
  • Termination bot to guide clients through disclosures required for terminating employees

The summer associates also created bots that make decisions, as opposed to just generating documents. For example, one group of summer associates built a "CFIUS bot." It determines whether a transaction is subject to the purview of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States ("CFIUS").

In order to automate something, you really have to understand it from soup to nuts. Ultimately, the most important thing in all of this is actually changing cultural norms and behaviors for lawyers.

This first suite of legal tools are being showcased to the entire firm at the end of the summer. Once presented, the stakeholders will give feedback and continue to use and iterate on the tools. Maintenance and upkeep is key to the success of legal tech tools within the firm, especially with an ever-changing landscape of legal regulations.

Summer associates worked directly in Documate's "Builder" platform (which doesn't require any coding knowledge or technical expertise) to automate these document drafting processes in lieu of a summer brief-writing requirement. Documate's team of engineers and former lawyers (Documate CEO Dorna Moini is a former Big Law associate) provided guidance and inspiration along the way. "We're really excited about how well the summer associates dove into the substantive law and how complex and functional the tools they built are," said Moini.

The program will give summer associates a reason to work with experienced lawyers, said David Wang, Wilson Sonsini’s chief innovation officer. But it is also an effort to build early believers in the firm’s efficiency efforts.

“In order to automate something, you really have to understand it from soup to nuts,” Wang said. “Ultimately, the most important thing in all of this is actually changing cultural norms and behaviors for lawyers.”

Bloomberg also covered the program last week.

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