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Equity management: Morgan Stanley strikes a deal with Wilson Sonsini

Financial services giant Morgan Stanley has entered into an agreement with top US firm Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati to take over the stock plans of thousands of startups using Wilson Sonsini’s proprietary capitalization management software. The companies will migrate to Morgan Stanley’s global stock option administration platform Shareworks, which offers equity management solutions for private and public companies.

”Morgan Stanley intends to be the leader in capitalization management for private companies and early stage startups, helping them to manage the complexities of their equity and employee stock plans,” said Jed Finn, head of corporate and institutional solutions at Morgan Stanley Wealth Management. “This agreement, along with the acquisition of Solium and the Corporate Services business from E*TRADE, are a part of our long-term strategy to be the premier provider of financial solutions to workplace employees. We are confident that Wilson Sonsini’s clients can also benefit from our broader Morgan Stanley services and offerings.”

Deals of this kind around proprietary law firm technology are rare, particularly where clients are involved. Gilbert + Tobin sold its proprietary legal verification software to Litera in October 2020, and in 2018 NetDocuments acquired Chapman and Cutler’s Closing Room transaction management platform.

David Wang, Wilson Sonsini’s Chief Innovation Officer, said: “Wilson Sonsini has been a pioneer with innovative applications that simplify and accelerate complicated legal processes. Our capitalization 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.”