In an unusual move, leading West Coast law firm, Wilson Sonsini, has ‘transitioned’ a homemade software application over to global investment bank, Morgan Stanley.
The app in question is designed to allow companies to more easily manage financial data related to their capitalisation. The ‘transaction’, as it is also described, will see the users of the app – who previously used it through Wilson Sonsini, which built it – migrated over to the bank where they will also be able to use a growing suite of financial tools branded as Shareworks, which covers areas such equity plan management.
However, both parties have been a bit vague about how the deal is structured. Artificial Lawyer reached out to a contact at Wilson Sonsini in the US this morning UK time, and luckily they were still awake. They told this site: ‘This is an asset the firm had that was separate from SixFifty [the firm’s tech group]. It goes back years.’
They added that they did not have details of the transaction, but that: ‘Morgan Stanley have acquired the customer base, which I think held most (if not all) of the value.’
There are a growing number of law firms that are building their own tech, although few sell, or migrate, their applications along with their user-base to a third party.
That said, it’s not the first example of a law firm offloading tech they’ve built, (if that is what has happened in this case….as the deal terms remain unclear). Australian law firm Gilbert & Tobin sold a piece of software it had created to legal tech group Litera back in November last year. In that case it was a digital disclosure tool. And there are other examples.
David Wang, Wilson Sonsini’s Chief Innovation Officer, said in an earlier statement: ‘Wilson Sonsini has been a pioneer with innovative applications that simplify and accelerate complicated legal processes. Our capitalisation software was among the first in the industry and the only one developed by a law firm.
‘As we continue to evolve how we serve as trusted legal and strategic advisors to our clients through their entire lifecycle, we are excited about the opportunity to provide an even more efficient and technology-driven capitalization management experience for our clients with a state-of-the-art solution like Shareworks.’
Artificial Lawyer more formally asked the firm about what the transaction included – and now has heard back. The firm said that they don’t want to go into any more details in terms of what the deal involves. That leaves the door open to speculation, and one thing it may suggest is that this is perhaps some kind of ‘contra deal’, where the firm provides the app and the app’s customer base, and in turn Wilson Sonsini builds a stronger relationship with Morgan Stanley that may drive more work to them….but, as the firm won’t go into details…..we’ll have to just leave that idea there.
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