Morrison & Foerster (UK) LLP

The Scoop

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.

Worldwide mojo

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 background checks.

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 technologies.

Recent News

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.

Coal power

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 pleading standards.

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.

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Morrison & Foerster (UK) LLP

CityPoint, One Ropemaker Street
Phone: 44 (0)20 7920 4000
Fax: 44 (0)20 7920 4000


  • Employer Type: Private
  • Managing Partner: Trevor L. James
  • Total No. Attorneys 2011: 1,000

Major Office Locations

  • Brussels, Belgium
  • Shanghai, China
  • Beijing, China
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • San Diego, CA
  • San Francisco, CA
  • Sacramento, CA
  • Palo Alto, CA
  • Denver, CO
  • Washington, DC
  • New York, NY
  • Mclean, VA
  • London, United Kingdom
  • Hong Kong, Hong Kong
  • Tokyo, Japan
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