Morrison & Foerster

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Morrison & Foerster
Morrison & Foerster logo.jpg
Headquarters Washington (DC)
Number of Offices 16
Number of attorneys 1,022
Practice Areas Mergers and acquisitions, litigation and arbitration, corporate finance, corporate restructuring, securities, banking, project finance, energy and infrastructure, antitrust, tax, intellectual property, life sciences
Key People Larren M. Nashelsky (Chair) (?)
Annual Revenue $945 million
Annual Profit Per Equity Partner $1.55 million
Morrison & Foerster Pay Scale
(all numbers in thousands of dollars)
First year salary180
Second year salary190
Third year salary210
Fourth year salary235
Fifth year salary260
Sixth year salary280
Seventh year salary300
Eighth year salary315
Ninth year salary325
Tenth year salary

Morrison & Foerster LLP, is an international law firm with 16 office located throughout the United States, Asia, and Europe. The firm has over 1,000 lawyers who advise clients across a range of industries and practices, including intellectual property, patent litigation, corporate/M&A, business restructuring, and securities.[1]

Clients[edit | edit source]

Morrison & Foerster represents a broad cross-section of clients, including leaders in technology and life sciences, Fortune 100 companies, and financial institutions.[2] The firm also advises startup companies and investment funds, helping many over the years in their growth and development as industry leaders and familiar household brands.

The firm was the lead bankruptcy counsel to Residential Capital (ResCap), which was among the world’s largest real estate origination and servicing companies (with more than $15 billion in assets and liabilities prior to its bankruptcy filing).[3] In December 2013, a Morrison & Foerster bankruptcy team scored a decisive victory for ResCap when Judge Martin Glenn of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York confirmed ResCap’s chapter 11 plan.[4] Judge Glenn described the proceeding as "the most legally and factually complex case" that he had presided over in his seven years on the bench.[4]

In July 2013, Morrison & Foerster represented SoftBank in its $21.6 billion acquisition of a 78 percent stake in Sprint Nextel.[5] According to The Wall Street Journal, the transaction was "one of the most complex and unusual deals in the annals of takeovers."[6] The firm also represented SoftBank, a longtime client, in Alibaba’s U.S. IPO—the largest IPO in history—and in the carve-out and restructuring of Alibaba’s financial services businesses in preparation for the IPO.[7]

Firm Leadership[edit | edit source]

Chair: Larren Nashelsky
Chief Operating Officer: Pat Cavaney
Managing Partners: Paul Friedman, Craig Martin, Eric Piesner, Tessa J. Schwartz
Corporate Department Co-Chairs: Jacklyn Liu, Thomas Knox
Finance Department Co-Chairs: Gary Lee, Nicholas Spiliotes
Litigation Department Chair: Grant Esposito, David McDowell
Tax Department Co-Chairs: Craig Fields, Thomas Humphreys, David Strong[8]

Offices[edit | edit source]

Office Managing Partner(s) Year Founded
Beijing Paul McKenzie 1998
Berlin Jens-Uwe Hinder, Hanno Timner 2013
Brussels Rony Gerrits 1991
Denver David Strong 1979
Hong Kong Venantius Tan 1983
London Alistair Maughan, Jonathan Wheeler 1980
Los Angeles Benjamin Fox 1974
New York Brett Miller 1987
Northern Virginia Charles Katz 2000
Palo Alto Timothy Harris 1985
San Diego Steve Rowles 1999
San Francisco Philip Besirof 1883
Shanghai Paul McKenzie 2003
Singapore Eric Piesner 2013
Tokyo Kenneth Siegel 1987
Washington, D.C. Bradley Lui 1979

History[edit | edit source]

UC Hastings School of Law graduate Alexander Francis Morrison (1856-1921) founded the firm in 1883, in San Francisco, under the name O’Brien & Morrison.[9] His mission was to practice "principally in the line of corporation business."[10]

In 1891, Morrison formed a partnership with Constantine E.A. Foerster (1860-1898).[9] Starting in the 1920s and 1930s, the firm developed a deep client roster, which brought stability to sustain the firm over the next three decades.[11]

In the 1960s, a group of young partners—John Austin, Dick Archer, and Bob Raven—set out to reinvigorate the firm in response to stagnant revenue and changes in the business and social environment.[12] The strategy, resulting from the so-called "Schroeder’s meetings" because they were held at the historic San Francisco restaurant, included ideas for modernizing the practice of law that were radical and innovative for their time.[12] The partners, who identified themselves as the "Young Turks," replaced outmoded policies and insisted on budgets and operational plans. The firm started to recruit at law schools and began hiring women lawyers. In time, the firm rebuilt its litigation practice by training new associates on small bank cases.[13]

In 1974, the firm expanded outside San Francisco and opened an office in Los Angeles to better meet the needs of longtime client Crocker National Bank.[10]

Soon after, the firm expanded again, opening an office in Washington, D.C. in 1979 and its first non-U.S. office in London in 1980.[14]

In 1987, the firm merged with prominent New York-based litigation boutique Parker Auspitz and opened its Tokyo office.[15]

The firm merged again in 1991, this time with Ciotti & Murashige.[16] A decade later, Morrison & Foerster became one of the largest international law firms in Tokyo when it merged with Ito & Mitomi.[17]

In November 2013, the firm expanded its European presence by opening an office in Berlin.[18] The following month, the German team advised Axel Springer, one of Europe’s largest media companies, on its acquisition of N24 Media, Germany’s largest independent producers of information.[19] Juve, the leading legal trade publication in Germany, wrote that the transaction highlighted Morrison & Foerster’s "prestige mandate."[20]

Rankings and Awards[edit | edit source]

Corporate Board Member has consistently recognized the firm as one of America’s Best Corporate Law Firms, and BTI Consulting has named the firm to its Client Service 30 List (the top 30 firms on BTI’s Client Service A-List report) for 13 consecutive years.[21][22] The Financial Times has also recognized the firm as one of the most innovative law firms in North America and Asia every year that it has published its Innovative Lawyers reports in each of those regions.[23]

The Financial Times has also recognized the firm as one of the most innovative law firms in North America and Asia every year that it has published its Innovative Lawyers reports in each of those regions. In 2016, the firm ranked #7 in the FT North America Innovative Lawyers Report.[24] FT has also recognized individual practitioners at the firm, most notably San Francisco partner Suz Mac Cormac was named the Most Innovative Lawyer in North America.[25]

Asian Legal Business (ALB) named Morrison & Foerster Real Estate Law Firm of the Year at the 2015 China Law Awards.[26] In 2016, ALB honored the Singapore office with two awards: M&A Deal of the Year (Premium) and Deal of the Year for our role in Broadcom’s acquisition by Avago Technologies.[27]

Chambers Asia-Pacific recognized Morrison & Foerster as the 2017 Japan International Firm of the Year.[28] This was the sixth time in the seven years that the award has been presented that Morrison & Foerster has received this honor.[29]

In 2016, Morrison & Foerster won the Privacy & Data Security Award for Excellence from Chambers USA.[30]

In 2013, Chambers Global named Morrison & Foerster as the USA Law Firm of the Year.[25]

Pro Bono[edit | edit source]

Morrison & Foerster has been a leader in the pro bono field for more than two decades. It was one of the first firms to create a full-time pro bono counsel position, which resulted in a broad and sustained engagement that has been replicated by virtually every major U.S. law firm.[31]

In 2014, the firm’s lawyers devoted nearly 98,000 hours to pro bono work. Highlights include two appearances before the U.S. Supreme Court in the same month in closely watched cases involving reproductive rights and marriage equality.[32]

Working in tandem with the National Center for Youth Law, the firm achieved a $2.075 million settlement for seven former foster youths who were injured while in Clark County (Las Vegas) custody. The suit was originally filed in 2010 as a class action seeking systemic changes to Clark County’s child welfare system.[33]

In 2014, the firm was successful in bringing a suit against the FBI that forced the agency to disclose information that had been improperly withheld and covered up details about its illegal surveillance of Muslim Americans in Northern California.[34]

In New York, the firm’s finance lawyers regularly participate in the Bankruptcy Assistance Project run by Legal Services NYC, which provides pre-petition assistance to low-income individuals filing chapter 7 bankruptcy petitions.

The firm also serves as pro bono counsel to numerous nonprofits, such as The Nature Conservancy (TNC).[35] The firm helped TNC restructure its impact investment program, which raises funds to conserve critical landscapes, advance practices and policies, and broaden support for conservation. The firm has also advised on the corporate structure for sustainable fisheries, as well as a reverse auction to purchase from rice farmers the right to flood fallow fields to create temporary wetlands for migratory shore birds.[36]

MoFo also acted as pro bono counsel to Illuminate the Arts, which created the large-scale light installation known as The Bay Lights.[37] The monumental light sculpture uses 25,000 LED lights to create computer-generated patterns on the north side of San Francisco’s Bay Bridge.[37]

Outside the United States, the firm provides pro bono services on a range of global issues through engagements with Advocates for International Development, the Cyrus R. Vance Center for International Justice, and pro bono clearinghouses run by TrustLaw and PILnet.[38][39]

In 2017, The National Law Journal named Morrison & Foerster to its 2017 Pro Bono Hot List.[40] Morrison & Foerster was also named a 2016 Pro Bono Firm of the Year by Law360, as well as Who's Who Legal s 2015 Pro Bono Firm of the Year.[41][42] In its annual pro bono survey, The American Lawyer ranked the firm in the top 10 for both U.S. and internal pro bono work for 2015.[43]

Diversity[edit | edit source]

In 1992, Morrison & Foerster issued a diversity mission statement, expressing a firm-wide commitment to continue its work "to break down barriers to equal opportunity, to value fully the differences among people in our organization while recognizing our similarities, and to create an atmosphere in which each individual can develop his or her potential to the fullest extent possible."[44]

In 2001, the firm became one of the first major U.S. law firms to elect an openly gay man to serve as chair.[45] Keith Wetmore led the firm for 12 years.[45] In addition to helping the firm grow its presence in key technology and financial centers in Asia, Europe, and the United States, he helped set new standards for LGBT equality within the legal profession, including the expansion of same-sex partner benefits and health care tax offsets to lawyers and staff in same-sex domestic partnerships.[45][46][47] For his visionary leadership, The American Lawyer named Wetmore in 2013 to its inaugural list of the top 50 innovators in the legal profession.[48]

In 2003, Morrison & Foerster established the Diversity Strategy Committee (DSC).[49] Its primary mission is to recommend major diversity goals and objectives to the firm’s board of directors.[50]

Since the 1990s, the DSC has sponsored professional development workshops for U.S.-based lawyers of color. The workshops were expanded in 2014 to include LGBT lawyers and became known as the MoFo Diversity Summit.[51]

In 2012, the DSC established the firm’s 1L Diversity Fellowship Program to recognize and support the career development of promising law students from historically underrepresented groups in the legal profession.[52] To date, diversity fellowships have been awarded to 48 law students.[53]

The firm also sponsors pre-law interns through such programs as Sponsors for Educational Opportunity (SEO), Initiative for Diversity in Education and Leadership (IDEAL), and Legal Employment Action Program (LEAP).[51]

In 2006, the firm founded the Women’s Strategy Committee (WSC) to make recommendations to increase the retention, development, and advancement of women lawyers.[51][54]

As its first project, the WSC created a clearer articulation of the firm’s reduced-hours policy, which has consistently been recognized as a model within the legal industry.[54]

In 2015, the firm joined Diversity Lab’s OnRamp Fellowship program, an initiative that gives experienced women lawyers returning to the legal profession an opportunity to expand their skills and networks through paid, one-year fellowships at a major law firm.[55]

The firm has 26 affinity groups that provide a support network and professional development opportunities for lawyers of color, women lawyers, LGBT lawyers, working parents, and veterans.[51]

Every year since 2010, The American Lawyer has recognized Morrison & Foerster as a top 10 firm on its annual Diversity Scorecard.[56] Yale Law Women named the firm to its Top 10 Family Friendly Firms in 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017.[57] In 2016, Yale Law Women named Morrison & Foerster one of the top 5 in California.[58] Working Mother and Flex-Time Lawyers recognized Morrison & Foerster in 2014, 2015, and 2016 as one of the top 50 firms with best practices for retaining, supporting, and promoting women lawyers.[59][60][61] In 2017, the firm won Chambers Women in Law awards for flexible working environment and innovative programs for mothers.[62] The firm has also earned a 100% ranking in the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index every year since 2003.[63][64]

Morrison & Foerster Foundation[edit | edit source]

Formed in 1986, the Morrison & Foerster Foundation is one of the oldest law firm-affiliated charitable foundations in the United States.[65] Funded mainly by the firm’s partners, the Foundation contributed $3.6 million to various charitable organizations in 2014.[65] In total, the Foundation has donated $44 million to nonprofit organizations since its inception.[66]

The Foundation’s charitable donations frequently focus on programs serving disadvantaged children and young people or that provide free legal services to low-income people.[66][67] The foundation also supports fellowship and scholarship programs to encourage diversity in higher education and the legal field.[67]

Other causes funded by the Foundation support community-based initiatives that involve food and shelter, health, and the arts.[67]

In 2015, Law360 recognized Morrison & Foerster as one of the 10 Most Charitable Law Firms.[66]

Noted professionals[edit | edit source]

Nickname[edit | edit source]

The firm is frequently referred to by its abbreviation "MoFo." The nickname’s roots date to the 1970s, when "mofo" was selected as the firm’s teletype.

The nickname has earned the firm some public notoriety, since the term is also used as a shortening of the insult 'motherfucker'. In 2003, Jay Leno joked on The Tonight Show that the firm’s clients could shout, "Get me my MoFo lawyer!" Also, in its most recent version of the game, Trivial Pursuit asks the question, "What four-letter nickname is used by the law firm Morrison & Foerster?" The abbreviation is nonetheless extensively used humorously by the firm, for instance in the firm's website URL.

References[edit | edit source]

  1.  Morrison & Foerster LLP|Company Profile|Vault.comVault
  2. Morrison & Foerster Firm Profile. Chambers Associates. Retrieved November 19, 2015.
  3. Chutchian, Maria (December 11, 2013). ResCap Ends Bankruptcy As Judge Confirms Liquidation Plan. Law360. Retrieved November 20, 2015.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Checkler, Joseph (December 11, 2013). Bankruptcy Judge Confirms ResCap Liquidation Plan. Wall Street Journal. Retrieved October 22, 2015.
  5. Bulkeley, Andrew (October 15, 2013). "Softbank forges Sprint takeover deal." The Deal. Retrieved November 20, 2015.
  6. MoFo Advises SoftBank in Landmark Sprint Nextel Acquisition. (Press Release). July 11, 2013. Retrieved October 22, 2015.
  7. MoFo Advises SoftBank on Alibaba’s IPO. (Press Release). San Francisco, California: Morrison & Foerster LLP. September 19, 2014. Retrieved October 22, 2015.
  8. Leadership Team. Retrieved October 22, 2015.
  9. 9.0 9.1 O’Hara, Eileen, et. al. (2006). Morrison & Foerster LLP: The Evolution of a Law Firm. RR Donnelly. pp. 5
  10. 10.0 10.1 McAfee, David (July 21, 2014). California Powerhouse: Morrison & Foerster. Law360. Retrieved November 18, 2015.
  11. O’Hara, Eileen, et. al. (2006). Morrison & Foerster LLP: The Evolution of a Law Firm. RR Donnelly. pp. 71
  12. 12.0 12.1 O’Hara, Eileen, et. al. (2006). Morrison & Foerster LLP: The Evolution of a Law Firm. RR Donnelly. pp. 77
  13. O'Hara, Eileen, et al. (2006). Morrison & Foerster LLP: The Evolution of a Law Firm. RR Donnelly. pp. 79
  14. Moore, Tom (July 9, 2014). Morrison & Foerster Appoints Paul Friedman to Newly Created European Managing Partner Role. Legal Business. Retrieved November 19, 2015.
  15. Sandburg, Brenda (March 3, 2006). [1]. The American Lawyer. Retrieved November 19, 2015.
  16. Somers, Terri. (September 4, 2007). Chemist in her element in biotech patent law. San Diego Union-Tribune. Retrieved November 19, 2015.
  17. Smith, Heather (December 4, 2003). Made in Japan. The American Lawyer. Retrieved November 19, 2015.
  18. Smith, Jennifer (September 24, 2015). Willkommen in Deutschland: Morrison & Foerster Opens in Berlin. Wall Street Journal Law Blog. Retrieved November 19, 2015.
  19. Bulkeley, Andrew (December 11, 2013).Morrison & Foerster snares Springer mandate for N24 purchase. The Deal. Retrieved November 19, 2015.
  20. Juve (December 10, 2013). Buying N24: Springer brought Morrison & Foerster first German prestige mandate. Retrieved November 20, 2015.
  21. America's Best Corporate Law Firms: The 2015 Corporate Board Member / FTI Consulting Survey. Corporate Board Member Magazine. Retrieved November 19, 2015.
  22. BTI Client-Service A-Team 2015. BTI Consulting. Retrieved October 23, 2015.
  23. MoFo Ranks Among FT's 40 Most Innovative U.S. Law Firms. (Press Release). San Francisco, California: Morrison & Foerster LLP. December 5, 2014. Retrieved October 23, 2015.
  24. Morrison & Foerster Ranks Seventh in 2016 FT North America Innovative Lawyers Report | News | Morrison Foerster,
  25. 25.0 25.1 Honors + Awards | Morrison Foerster,
  26. Asian Legal Business. "ALB China Law Awards 2015: Winners". Retrieved November 20, 2015.
  27. Honors + Awards | Morrison Foerster,
  28. Morrison & Foerster Named Japan International Law Firm of the Year at 2017 Chambers Asia-Pacific Awards for Excellence | News | Morrison Foerster,
  29. Morrison & Foerster Named Japan International Law Firm of the Year at 2017 Chambers Asia-Pacific Awards for Excellence | News | Morrison Foerster,
  30. MoFo’s Privacy & Data Security Team Wins 2016 Chambers USA Award for Excellence | News | Morrison Foerster,
  31. Unwavering Commitment to Pro Bono. Morrison & Foerster. Retrieved October 23, 2015.
  32. Coe, Aebra Pro Bono All Stars Show Dedication to Helping Others. Law360. August 21, 2015. Retrieved October 23, 2015.
  33. Amaro, Yesenia (April 6, 2015). Court Approves $2.075 Million Settlement for Ex-foster Children. Las Vegas Review Journal. Retrieved October 23, 2015.
  34. Bargzie, Nasrine and Julia Harumi Mass (March 23, 2015). FBI Ordered to Disclose its Surveillance Tactics on Communities. The American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California. Retrieved November 20, 2015.
  35. Sustaining the Planet. Morrison & Foerster. Retrieved October 23, 2015.
  36. "Pursuing Purpose and Profit" (2014). For the Public Good. Morrison & Foerster. Retrieved October 23, 2015.
  37. 37.0 37.1 Monumental Light Sculpture to Shine on Bay Bridge. Metropolitan Transit Commission (September 18, 2012). Retrieved November 20, 2015.
  38. "Our Pro Bono Partners" (2014). For the Public Good. Morrison & Foerster. Retrieved October 22, 2015.
  39. Vance Center Committee. Cyrus R. Vance Center for International Justice. Retrieved October 22, 2015.
  40.  The 2017 Pro Bono Hot ListNational Law Journal
  41. Ryan, Lisa (August 21, 2015). 20 Firms Show how to Win Big and Do Good. Law360. Retrieved October 23, 2015.
  42. Pro Bono. Who's Who Legal. Retrieved November 20, 2015.
  43. McQueen, MP (June 29, 2015). Survey: Pro Bono Hours Dip Slightly at Am Law 200 Firms Read more: The American Lawyer. Retrieved October 23, 2015.
  44. An Historical Commitment. Morrison & Foerster. Retrieved October 23, 2015.
  45. 45.0 45.1 45.2 My Story: Keith Wetmore. BisNow. Retrieved November 20, 2015.
  46. Quittner, Jeremy (October 14, 2003). Where to Work. The Advocate. Retrieved November 20, 2015.
  47. Fuchs, Erin (November 22, 2010). MoFo to Offset Taxes for Domestic-Partner Benefits. Law360. Retrieved November 20, 2015.
  48. "Top 50 Innovators" (July 29, 2013). The American Lawyers Top 50 Innovators. The American Lawyer. Retrieved October 23, 2015.
  49. Djordjevich, Vera et. all (2006). Vault Guide to Law Firm Diversity Programs. Vault. pp 848. Retrieved November 20, 2015.
  50. Djordjevich, Vera et. all (2006). Vault Guide to Law Firm Diversity Programs. Vault. pp 848-849. Retrieved November 20, 2015.
  51. 51.0 51.1 51.2 51.3 Morrison & Foerster 2015 Vault/MCCA Law Firm Diversity Survey. Retrieved November 20, 2015.
  52. 1L Diversity Fellowship Program. Morrison & Foerster. Retrieved October 23, 2015.
  53. Morrison & Foerster Awards Nine 1L Diversity Fellowships | News | Morrison Foerster,
  54. 54.0 54.1 About the Womens Strategy Committee. Morrison & Foerster. Retrieved October 23, 2015.
  55. Strickler, Andrew (September 23, 2015). ‘Returnship’ Program For Female Attys Heads In-House. Law360. Retrieved October 23, 2015.
  56. The 2017 Diversity Scorecard: The Rankings (May 24, 2017). The American Lawyer. Retrieved July 17, 2015.
  57. Yale Law Women Names Morrison & Foerster to 2017 Top 10 Family Friendly Firms List | News | Morrison Foerster,
  58. Yale Law Women Names Morrison & Foerster to 2016 Top 10 Family Friendly Firms List | News | Morrison Foerster,
  59. Zaretsky, Staci (April 22, 2015) The Top 10 Most Family Friendly Law Firms 2015. Above the Law. Retrieved October 23, 2015.
  60. Bellstom, Kristen (July 28, 2015). These are the best law firms for working moms. Fortune. Retrieved October 23, 2015.
  61. MoFo Named a Best Law Firm for Women by Working Mother, Flex-Time Lawyers | News | Morrison Foerster,
  62. Women in Law Awards: USA 2017 - Chambers and Partners,
  63. Strickler, Andrew (November 18, 2015). Law360. Retrieved November 20, 2015.
  64. MoFo Receives Perfect Score on HRC’s Corporate Equality Index | News | Morrison Foerster,
  65. 65.0 65.1 MoFo Foundation Morrison & Foerster. Retrieved October 23, 2015.
  66. 66.0 66.1 66.2 Maleske, Melissa (September 29, 2015). The 10 Most Charitable Law Firms. Law360. Retrieved October 23, 2015.
  67. 67.0 67.1 67.2 "Focus" (2015). Morrison & Foerster Foundation 2014 Annual Report. Morrison & Foerster. Retrieved October 23, 2015.
  68. Crystal Scripps McKellar,

External links[edit | edit source]