In 1973 those cats in San Fran approved "MoFo" as Morrison &
Foerster's official nickname, accentuating the firm's
unconventional modus operandi. Still, the firm is distinguished by
much more than its rebel epithet. MoFo complements its expertise in
finance, life sciences, technology, intellectual property and
litigation with a long reach across the Pacific Rim. And staying
true to its roots in a city of peace and love, the firm's pro bono
commitment is deeply held.
A legacy beyond law
More than 120 years ago, Alexander Morrison and Thomas O'Brien
founded the firm that became today's Morrison & Foerster. Due
to the philanthropic work of Morrison's widow, the firm's name is
woven through the fabric of Bay Area community life. May Treat
Morrison's early 20th century bequests, augmented by her late
husband's law firm, are responsible for libraries, lecture series,
endowed chairs at Stanford University and University of California,
Berkeley, and scholarships and a planetarium at the California
Academy of Sciences.
It wasn't until the early 1960s that the firm ventured away from
Northern California, hopping on for the ride when one of its major
San Francisco clients, Crocker National Bank, decided to open a Los
Angeles office. In the second half of the 1980s the firm grew
swiftly, sprouting offices across the Bay Area, and in 1987, the
firm merged with New York firm Parker Auspitz Neesemann &
Delehanty. That same year MoFo became one of the first American law
firms to practice in Japan, unveiling a Tokyo office-a 2001 joint
enterprise with Japanese firm Ito & Mitomi made Morrison &
Foerster the largest international firm in Tokyo. MoFo was also one
of the first into China. The firm's Asian-based clients include
such household names as Hitachi, Minolta, Nikon and Toshiba.
Morrison & Foerster set up shop in London in 1980. The
office houses both US and English-qualified lawyers. While the
firm's client base and practice are diverse-with strong corporate,
tax, finance, employment, IP and litigation practices-MoFo's London
office is especially well known for its work in the technology,
financial services, biotech and cleantech sectors.
Globally, Morrison & Foerster now numbers more than 1,000
lawyers. The bulk of the firm's revenues come from legal services
for clients in the financial services, life sciences and technology
industries. MoFo counts on its client list such companies as Apple,
Bank of America, Intel, Lucasfilm, Oracle, Toshiba, Hitachi, Yahoo!
and Sprint Nextel.
The Mo is for "Mobile"
In addition to serving high-tech clients, MoFo itself has been
an industry leader in adapting to new technologies and social
media. While other firms were only just beginning to take notice of
phenomena such as Facebook, MoFo sprinted ahead, publishing
articles on a wide range of developing cyberlaw issues. In 2010,
two MoFo partners launched Socially Aware, a monthly
newsletter providing updates on the rapidly evolving intersection
of social media and the law. Socially Aware addresses
issues such as employee Twitter use, anonymous internet comments,
Facebook's ever-changing privacy policies and social media
Morrison & Foerster has also developed an application for
Apple's iPhone called MoFo2Go. The app features information about
the firm's lawyers and offices, as well as press releases, client
alerts and other news items. MoFo2Go also has a maze game-an excuse
to break from six-minute intervals for a few moments.
Green is gold
Sustainability is no longer a movement, it's a major market
opportunity. Morrison & Foerster's cross-discipline "green"
Cleantech practice group addresses the needs of players and
industries focusing on regulatory and technological issues relating
to climate change, energy conservation and clean technologies.
Serving alternative fuel, solar, carbon and other green-tech
companies, as well as the Fortune 500, MoFo provides project
finance, corporate, IP/patent, regulatory, land use and
environmental services. The firm also advises venture capital and
private equity firms interested in investing in alternative
HP acquires Autonomy
High on the wave of US tech companies buying up other tech
companies, the firm's London corporate team advised Qatalyst
Partners, lead financial advisor to Autonomy Corporation plc, on
the $10.2 billion offer by Hewlett-Packard Vision BV, an indirect,
wholly-owned subsidiary of the Silicon Valley giant.
Cambridge-based Autonomy is one of the largest software companies
in the UK. The acquisition was completed in October 2011.
Life sciences M&A
In the spring of 2011, lawyers from the London corporate team
advised IS Pharma plc, an AIM-listed company based in Chester, on
the terms of its merger with its Surrey-based rival Sinclair Pharma
plc, a company listed on the Main Market, to create Sinclair IS
Pharma plc, a pan-European specialty pharmaceutical company. The
merger, which was completed in June 2011, was implemented by way of
a scheme of arrangement and created a combined business worth
approximately £150 million.
China Resources Power-a company that invests in and manages
power plants-sought Morrison & Foerster's counsel on its
purchase of a 56 per cent stake in northern China's Daning coal
mine from Thai energy company Banpu Public. The March 2011 deal,
worth $669 million, is part of CR Power's efforts to expand the
coal supply base for its power generation business.
Liti-gators win for crocs
Morrison & Foerster won victories for Crocs, the famed
footwear manufacturer in a series of class action securities fraud
suits in the United States. In February 2011, a federal trial court
in Colorado dismissed all lawsuits with prejudice, finding that
statements made by Crocs were not misleading and that plaintiffs
failed to satisfy the Private Securities Reform Act's heightened
Source code for victory
In March 2010, Morrison & Foerster secured a victory for
network software giant Novell against SCO Group in a dispute over
ownership of the Unix copyright. Novell had sold the Unix operating
system to SCO in 1995, but the fate of the copyright remained
unclear until a federal jury in Utah ruled in favour of Novell. The
victory undermined a separate SCO litigation against IBM for
improper use of Unix in a Linux update. An SCO victory would have
put the open-source status of Linux in jeopardy.