WILSON L. WHITE
Public Policy & Government Relations Director, Google
Wilson White knew he wanted to be a lawyer early in his educational career in the public schools in rural South Carolina. And, like many children of his generation, exposure to a television show planted
a professional seed.
“I had an inkling that I wanted to be a lawyer in second grade
after a field trip to the county courthouse. I was already a fan of
the TV show ‘Matlock,’ but the visit to the courthouse added a
dose of reality to what it meant to be a lawyer. I was intrigued by
the hard work that went into problem solving and the intellectual rigor associated with truth finding. Although I went on to
study computer engineering and worked as a software developer for a short stint, I eventually came around to my childhood
passion,” White said.
White followed that passion and truth finding all the way to
his current position as a public policy & government relations
director at Google, where he is the global policy lead for the
company’s mobile and hardware businesses. He also advises on
policy implications of emerging tech issues, including artificial
intelligence and machine learning, internet of things, fintech and
virtual reality. Like many of our Rising Stars, Wilson’s professional path marries his technical expertise with his legal skills.
“I started my legal career as a federal judicial law clerk, then
as a patent litigator. I pursued a career in patent law since I had
the technical background, but litigation was my real passion.
It was the source of my initial attraction to the practice of law.
As a kid, I knew I wanted to be in the courtroom. More recently,
my work has involved public policy and government relations,
which is more focused on prospectively shaping legal frameworks. Focusing on what the law should be is an interesting
area that I am beginning to really enjoy,” he said.
White said that the “cutting edge nature of the work” is what
he loves most about his job. “Whether it is contemplating the
impact of machine learning systems on jobs or ensuring that artificial intelligence algorithms don’t exacerbate already existing
instances of bias and discrimination, there is never a dull day.
The demanding intellectual discourse is exciting,” he said. He
concedes, like many of his colleagues, that the long hours are
a drag. “There really is no way around it. The work I do now is
global in scope, so I am up early working with teams in Europe
and up late working with colleagues and in Asia,” White said.
The primary driver in White’s personal and professional
endeavors has been a deep sense of obligation to lift as he
climbs, which explains his next career interest if this whole legal
thing doesn’t work out. “If I was not a lawyer, I’d be a venture
capitalist. In Silicon Valley, it is somewhat interesting to see
the homogeneity in the faces of the billionaire founders of the
world’s most success-
ful startups. Most of
these guys (and they
are typically guys), had
their paths to success
paved with substantial
amounts of capital from
VC firms. I am intrigued
by what seems like an
of capital in such a
of people, albeit very
smart people. I’d want to
figure out how venture
capital could help ensure
women and minority
founders are getting the
same level of resources
and mentorship and
achieving similar levels of success. That seems like an interest-
ing enough area to explore if I wasn’t busy tackling some of the
world’s most pressing public policy challenges,” he said.
While his professional accomplishments are personally
fulfilling, White says he is most satisfied by his service of giving
back—a value instilled in him as a child and rooted in a firm desire
to promulgate tolerance, fairness and peaceful prosperity for ev-
eryone in the world. He is a 2012 alumnus of the Glass Leadership
Institute sponsored by the Anti Defamation League and a found-
ing board member of The Judge Alexander Williams, Jr. Center for
Education, Justice and Ethics. White also holds board positions
with the California Bar Foundation, the Friends of the Libraries
board at NC State University, and Pathways Community Network.
He previously served as Vice Chair of the Board of Partnership
Against Domestic Violence (PADV). For more than a decade, White
has served as a career development coach and mentor for hun-
dreds of undergraduate and law school students.
White earned his JD, with honors, from the University of
North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Law, where he served
on the editorial board of the North Carolina Law Review and
president of the Black Law Students Association. He earned his
BS degree, summa cum laude, in computer engineering from NC
KIM HOWARD, CAE (
email@example.com) is the editor in chief of
Diversity & the Bar. She has worked with lawyers for 11 years and in the
association publishing field for more than 20 years.