Todd Carpenter, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati partner
Todd Carpenter, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati partner (Jason Doiy)

Todd Carpenter is a corporate partner at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati and led the effort to open the firm’s SOMA office in 2012. He graduated from George Washington University School of Law.

Q: How’d you end up in this job?

A: I started at WSGR as a first year, straight out of law school.

Q: What’s your favorite part of working in Wilson Sonsini’s SOMA office?

A: The entrepreneurial experience of starting a new office and building a business with a great team.

Q: What do you like least about law firm life today?

A: Not having as much time as I would like to learn about all of the new technologies being developed by our clients. They are doing amazing things and it is often challenging to keep current with everything they are building.

Q: Best career advice you ever got?

A: Respect the people you work with. This is a relationship-driven business and you can’t develop meaningful relationships without mutual respect. This applies both internally to the team you work with as well as externally to your clients and opposing counsel.

Q: If you weren’t doing this, what would you do?

A: Run a start-up.

Q: Workplace pet peeve?

A: People not taking the initiative to independently move projects forward.

Q: Words to live by?

A: Give before you get.

Q: Book or movie you’d recommend?

A: “The Signal and the Noise” by Nate Silver

Q: How are start-ups changing legal services in the Bay Area?

A: Start-ups are changing the entire world, both in terms of the technology they are developing and the entrepreneurial culture they are promoting, and that requires the organizations that work with start-ups to adapt. Firms must continue to embrace new technologies and to adapt to working in the fast-paced, “lean” world in which our start-up clients are building their businesses.

Q: What’s the most pressing issue for law firms today?

A: Remaining relevant to our clients. Technology is making it easier for clients to discover and work with counsel anywhere in the world and to compare costs and services among a wide range of firms in the market. These market dynamics can result in clients viewing legal work as a commodity and continually seeking the lowest cost provider. As a result, it will become more and more important for firms to demonstrate that they are adding real value and relevant counsel that clients are willing to pay for.

Q: How will the legal industry look 10 years from now?

A: The legal industry will be even more specialized than it currently is and I think that it could look much more like the increasingly specialized medical industry, where the practitioners are very narrowly focused on their specific area of expertise. As a result, clients will focus more on hiring individual lawyers rather than firms, and personal relationships and deep domain experience and knowledge will become even more important in terms of building a practice.

Contact the reporter at npierrepont@alm.com.