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, more recently, into Europe. And
staying true to its roots in a city of peace and love, the firm's
pro bono commitment is deeply held.
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 firms in China. The firm's Asia-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 AIG,
Autodesk, Bank of America, Fujitsu, Global Logistics Properties,
Mitsui, Nikon, Novartis, SoftBank, Toshiba, Yahoo!, and UPS.
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"
Clean Tech + Renewable Energy 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
The Future is Female
"Focus on the Future - Empowering Female Leaders" was the theme
of the 2017 MoFo Summit for Women In-House Counsel, held on April
20 in Half Moon Bay, California. More than 230 women lawyers,
including 100 general counsel and assistant general counsel,
attended the day-long program of CLE presentations and professional
development workshops, which included an interactive session led by
SpeechSkills' Cara Hale Alter on projecting confidence and building
leadership presence. Over 550 women lawyers have participated in
the Summit since its inception in 2012.
Welcome to Parenthood
MoFo rolled out a new gender-neutral parent leave policy that is
among the most generous in the legal industry. The new policy
allows primary caregivers to take up to 20 weeks of paid leave and
5 weeks of unpaid leave following the birth, adoption, or foster
care placement of a child. Secondary caregivers may take up to six
weeks of paid and six weeks of unpaid parental leave.
Very Hungry Caterpillar
MoFo is helping Caterpillar become a digital business through
policy, procedure, and regulatory reviews, as well as through a
reevaluation of its strategies to engage customers and deliver
connected products. Just as the Internet of Things has redefined
how businesses operate, MoFo lawyers are similarly defining new
areas of the law, such as IoT, autonomous vehicles, impact
investing, and blockchain and smart contracts. Such forward-looking
thinking is among the reasons that the Financial Times
ranked MoFo as one of the 10 most innovative law firms in the 2016
FT North America Innovative Lawyers Report.
Detainment or Punishment?
MoFo lawyers devoted more than 7,000 pro bono hours in the fight
to enforce the rights of immigrants detained in Border Patrol
stations near Tuscon, Arizona. A 2015 lawsuit alleged that the
Border Patrol subjects detainees to mistreatment, abuse, and
neglect. Specific allegations included deprivations of beds,
bedding, and sleep; adequate food and water; medical screenings;
and basic sanitation and hygiene items. In June 2016, a federal
district court unsealed shocking video stills of conditions inside
holding cells. That November, a judge ordered the Board Patrol to
begin providing basic amenities to detainees. The ruling impacted
$31.4 Billion in Cash
Despite a turbulent global political and economic environment
that made for an unpredictable market, MoFo's M&A team
successfully navigated these challenges and advised clients on some
of their most complex domestic and international transactions. In
July, MoFo represented SoftBank in the $31.4 billion acquisition of
chipmaker ARM Holdings, the largest outbound acquisition from Japan
and the largest ever cash investment from Asia into the UK. The
transaction was also the biggest announced public M&A deal in
the UK in 2016; the largest all-cash deal in UK history, and the
first large-scale M&A deal to be announced post-Brexit
Women of Influence
The San Francisco Business Times recognized San
Francisco partner Tessa Schwartz as one of the Most Influential
Women in Bay Area Business, and for good reason. In January,
Schwartz was appointed a firmwide managing partner with global
responsibilities. "In addition to being an outstanding lawyer,
Tessa has a sharp strategic vision and proven leadership skills,"
noted firm chair Larren Nashelsky. Schwartz is one of several women
lawyers who hold top leadership positions at the firm. Twenty-two
women lead departments, practice groups, and firmwide committees.
In addition, women represent nearly half of the firm's board of