Silicon Valley-based technology specialist Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati has launched legaltech start-up SixFifty. The company’s first product will tackle new consumer data privacy regulation, the California Consumer Protection Act, which comes into force in 2020. The product will go live this Spring.
“Our firm has represented the most innovative technology companies in the world for almost 50 years. It’s in our DNA to be at the cutting edge and it is only right that we should be at that cutting edge when it comes to our own industry,” Wilson Sonsini managing partner Doug Clark told Legal IT Insider. “By starting this entity we are maximising our ability to leverage our legal knowledge and talent with great technology and it’s that control and joint vision that I believe will make it a success.”
SixFifty’s debut product fills a pressing need. There are more than half a million businesses in the US alone that will need to comply with the new California privacy regulation, similar to GDPR, by the start of next year. Compliance can be costly and time consuming for businesses, many of which remain unprepared.
The new business aims to both streamline the process and provide access and insights from Wilson Sonsini’s privacy and data protection practice, which includes Lydia Parnes, the former director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection at the Federal Trade Commission and Chris Olsen, the former assistant director of the Federal Trade Commission’s Division of Privacy and Identity Protection.
“I have noticed a real trend in automation companies, away from an exclusive focus on technology and towards embracing the human element,” says Kimball Parker, president of newly formed SixFifty. “If you look at the companies helping people file their taxes. Before, they would be completely automated. Now they are starting to advertise heavily that people can talk to an accountant at any time.
“Consumers don’t want machines to do all the work. They want a combination of machine efficiency and human judgement,” Parker adds. “I think that is going to be the future of the law. And when it comes to the area of privacy, the human touch at Wilson Sonsini is the best in the business.”
Following the launch of its privacy compliance product, SixFifty has plans to introduce products to address asylum filings, landlord/tenant issues and other consumer protection-focused areas.
“Legal services are often complicated and expensive. We want to look at products for people who cannot afford an attorney,” says Parker. “Asylum is a big topic in the US, with President Trump and the border with Mexico. We want to help streamline that process. These aren’t rich people’s problems. They can’t hire a firm like Wilson Sonsini. They aren’t using lawyers at all. After our focus on privacy, we want to help those people with some products focused on access to the law.”
SixFifty will be led by Parker, alongside fellow legal technologist Lincoln Porter. Parker and Porter previously created GDPR IQ, an automated software solution that generated GDPR compliance documents. The company behind GDPR IQ became profitable within six weeks and serviced hundreds of clients.
Prior to that, the duo developed SoloSuit, an automated software tool that helped those who have been sued for a debt in Utah file legal responses. The site surpassed its annual forecast for users in one month. Parker and Porter also developed co/counsel, a legal crowdsourcing website.
Neither Parker or Doug Clark would be drawn on the end game for SixFifty. It is unclear whether the firm will be looking to sell the company to reap a financial return.
“In the short and medium-term we are just going to focus on putting out the best products we can, concentrating on client and customer service,” Clark says. “As the business grows, obviously we will be confronted with various options as to how to scale it, but for the foreseeable future we will just be focusing on performance.”
By Amy Carroll