‘We’re At The End Of The Beginning’ – David Wang, Wilson Sonsini

David Wang, Chief Innovation Officer for leading US law firm Wilson Sonsini, will be a keynote speaker at the Legal Innovators California conference in San Francisco, June 4 and 5. Ahead of the event, Artificial Lawyer caught up with him to get his views on a range of key questions.

First, what is your role now and how has it evolved in recent years?

I am Chief Innovation Officer for Wilson Sonsini, focused on digitally transforming the practice of law to create value for clients and technological differentiation for my firm.

When you look at it at that level, i.e. how it’s evolved, very little has changed. The practice areas that I work with have increased, the projects have become bigger, and the technology has become more sophisticated, with AI of course being the latest accelerant, but our goals have not changed.

– Legal innovation sometimes in the past has seemed ‘nice to have’, but with genAI it feels like this may be changing into something more essential. Do you sense a change?

I think we are seeing what I call the ‘end of the beginning’.

Perspectives have changed, the ground truth of the industry is moving, but they have not really materially changed in a way that would perhaps justify the breathless discussions you hear these days in boardrooms and in the halls of legal power.

The thing that has changed for certain is that with ChatGPT, the self-evident possibilities have been put into everyone’s pocket, including GCs, partners and judges. There’s no going back from those expectations.  

– When it comes to genAI, and broadly across the whole market, do feel that most lawyers know what they want from it? Or are we still in the discovery phase for this technology?

I tend to think of things not in terms of what lawyers want from genAI, but rather what we should want from our profession and our businesses. Do we want a better profession that gives more meaningful work? Do we want to perform less repetitive, mechanical tasks in our workdays? Do we want to make higher profits with lower costs?

I think we can have much more ambition about these things in our profession. If we develop this ambition and the determination to get to those goals, we will quickly move beyond the discovery phase for AI and increase technology adoption generally.

– Finally, it’s clear genAI won’t be going away, even if its impact is not as immediate as some may think. When do you expect its effects to really drive notable change in the legal market?

Quality. Only when we can measure and get to the same page on the quality of the outputs generated by AI, can we truly drive change in the legal industry.

Thanks David, great points. Looking forward to your keynote at Legal Innovators California, June 4 + 5.

And for more information about the event:

Legal Innovators California conference, June 4 + 5 – San Francisco

The new wave of legal AI and how it will change our sector will be central to the Legal Innovators California conference, Jun 4 + 5. 

The event will take place in San Francisco with Day One focused on law firms, and Day Two on inhouse and legal ops. We have many great speakers such as David attending the event, along with a group of pioneering legal tech companies and service providers – you can see some more about our speakers here. It will be two great days of education and inspiration! Join us!

For ticket information, please see here. Don’t miss out on what will be a great event in the heart of America’s tech world.