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
IP, finance, life sciences, technology 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
Fastest Guns in the West
More than 120 years ago, Alexander Morrison and Thomas V. 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 Berkeley and Stanford, 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 an
L.A. 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.
Globally, Morrison & Foerster now numbers more than 1,000
lawyers and counts on its client list such companies as Apple, Bank
of America, Intel, Lucasfilm, Oracle, Toshiba, Hitachi, Yahoo! and
In addition to its 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.
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
IN THE NEWS
MoFo strengthened its strategic foothold in Asia with the opening
of its Singapore office, the firm's fifth office in the region.
Over the past 25 years, MoFo has developed an unmatched reputation
for its deep experience facilitating Asian regional, inbound and
outbound transactions. The Singapore office opening signals a
commitment to serving client business needs in South and Southeast
MoFo advised on the largest outbound investment in Japan's
history-representing SoftBank in its $21.6 billion acquisition of a
78 percent stake in Sprint Nextel, the nation's third-largest
wireless carrier ($44.8 billion enterprise value). MoFo acted as
SoftBank's lead M&A, litigation and antitrust counsel in the
deal. One day earlier, Sprint Nextel closed its $3.9 billion
acquisition of Clearwire ($10.8 billion enterprise value). MoFo
represented SoftBank in its U.S. telecom investment activities
related to the Clearwire acquisition. The deal was referred to by
The Wall Street Journal as "one of the most complex and
unusual deals in the annals of takeovers."
Passing the Torch
After 12 years of service as MoFo's chair, Keith Wetmore passed the
torch to New York bankruptcy partner Larren Nashelsky. Mr.
Nashelsky assumed leadership responsibilities at a time of
incredible growth and success for the firm, which was recognized as
Chambers Global's 2013 USA Law Firm of the Year.
All eyes were on MoFo in the most widely watched IP trial of the
year. The firm's IP team successfully represented one of the
leading producers of smartphones and tablets in a
multibillion-dollar patent and trade dress trial in the Northern
District of California. In other recent patent suits, MoFo has won
victories for Sandoz, a subsidiary of Novartis, which will allow
Sandoz to produce generic versions of certain drugs. Such wins
helped secure MoFo's spot on The National Law Journal's
second annual IP Hot List.
Advancing Gender Equality
MoFo partnered with the American and West Virginia Civil Liberties
Unions to strike a lightning-fast blow against sex-segregated West
Virginia public middle school classes. In three weeks' time, pro
bono lawyers filed a complaint, won a hearing and secured a
preliminary injunction that led to the return of co-educational
classes. The decision advanced the law on gender equality in public
schools, as the court found that federal regulations demand parents
"give clear and affirming assent" before their children are
enrolled in single-sex programs.
MoFo was lead counsel to Residential Capital in the largest Chapter
11 case filed in 2012. ResCap is the first financial services
company to successfully continue its regulated business operations
in bankruptcy and be sold as a going concern. Throughout 2012, MoFo
was involved in many high-profile restructurings, including
representing the Chapter 11 trustee for MF Global and the
creditors' committees in the Ambac Financial, L.A. Dodgers,
Pinnacle Airlines and PMI Group Chapter 11 cases. MoFo's team
garnered a string of accolades in 2012, including being named a
Bankruptcy Practice Group of the Year by Law360.