Morrison & Foerster LLP (Japan)

  • Overview
Marketed since 1973 under the fittingly risqué “MoFo,†Morrison & Foerster is a San Francisco native whose unconventional modus operandi channels the spirit of the region.  The firm, however, is distinguished by much more than its rebel epithet: MoFo complements its expertise in finance, life sciences, technology, IP and litigation with a long reach across the Pacific Rimâ€"notably in Tokyo, where it maintains one of the largest and oldest presences of any foreign law firm.  Finally, as one might expect from a firm rooted in a city with flowers in its hair, the firm’s pro bono commitment runs deep.


Fastest guns in the West

One hundred and twenty-four years and 14 name changes ago, Alexander Morrison and Thomas V. O’Brien founded the firm that developed into today’s Morrison & Foerster.  ‘Twas the generosity of Morrison’s widow, however, that stitched the firm’s name into the fabric of many Bay Area communities: May Treat Morrison’s early 20th century bequests, augmented by her late husband's law firm, are responsible for libraries, lecture series and scholarships, as well as endowed chairs at UC-Berkeley and Stanford University and a planetarium at the California Academy of Sciences.


Apparently preoccupied with the wealth of philanthropic and for-profit work in its own backyard, the firm didn’t venture beyond NorCal until the early 1960s, when it followed cornerstone client Crocker National Bank to Los Angeles.  MoFo grew swiftly over the latter half of the 1980s, sprouting offices across the Bay Area and stretching its coverage area significantly via a merger with New York’s Parker Auspitz Neesemann & Delehanty in 1987â€"the same year in which it became one of the first non-Japanese firms to establish a toehold in Tokyo.  At the same time, the firm continued to grow its Chinese contingent, building up a Hong Kong branch opened in 1983 before adding a Beijing office in 1998 and a Shanghai outpost five years thereafter.  The firm now employs more than 1,000 lawyers in 16 offices around the world, claiming such corporate staples as Apple, Bank of America, Hershey, Lucasfilm, Oracle, Yahoo! and Sprint Nextel as clients.


At present, Morrison & Foerster employs more than 140 corporate, technology and litigation lawyers in Japan and China, with roughly 110 of those attorneys based in Tokyo; the firm’s 2001 joint enterprise agreement with Japanese firm Ito & Mitomi gave MoFo one of the largest Japanese offices of any foreign law firm.  With a client roster that includes such Japanese colossi as Hitachi, Minolta, Nikon and Toshiba, the Tokyo branch’s transactional specialists have closed more than 200 M&A deals in the past decade, taking home accolades from such sources as Chambers Global, Bloomberg and Mergermarket as a result.  In addition to such transactional work, MoFo’s Tokyo lawyers handle litigation, public offerings and joint ventures, as well as matters revolving around intellectual property, private equity and real estate law. 


Due largely to its booming transactional workloadâ€"which, while figures are not publicly available, has likely slackened during the recessionâ€"MoFo found itself in the enviable position of looking for a new home in 2007, thanks to substantial internal growth (Tokyo managing partner Ken Siegel reported at the time that the office had “more than tripled its size†since 2002).  The firm soon invested in more spacious digs in the city’s Shin-Marunouchi building, moving there from the nearby AIG high-rise.



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Morrison & Foerster LLP (Japan)

Shin-Marunouchi Building, 29th Floor
5-1, Marunouchi 1-chome
Chiyodaku, Tokyo 100-6529
Phone: 81 3 3214 6522
Fax: 81 3 3214 6512


  • Employer Type: Unknown

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