2020 Vault Rankings
- Pro Bono#13
- New York#29
At a Glance
“Commitment to pro bono.”
“The collegial/collaborative atmosphere.”
“Quality work, big-name clients, and well-known cases.”
“Lack of transparency.”
“The unpredictable lifestyle."
About Morrison & Foerster LLP
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.
From the Golden Gate to the Great Wall
More than 120 years ago, Alexander Morrison and Thomas V. O’Brien founded the firm that became today’s Morrison & Foerster in San Francisco. 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 LA 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. The firm has also had a presence in China for more than 35 years.
Green is Gold
MoFo provides counsel across a variety of practices, including business and finance, IP, International, litigation, regulatory, and tax. The firm is well known for its experience in IP matters and has been among the top 5 Best Firms for Intellectual Property in Vault’s ranking. The firm’s regulatory practice is also highly respected, especially with regard to privacy and data security.
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 technologies.
Pro Bono Champions
MoFo’s pro bono roots run deep to its founder Alexander Morrison, who was a founding member of The Legal Aid Society of San Francisco. The firm has long been a leader in pro bono—it was one of the first law firms to have full-time pro bono counsel and also was a charter signatory to the Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge in the 90s—an initiative it continues to adhere to today. The firm has been recognized by the National Law Journal’s Pro Bono Hot List multiple times and is among the top 20 firms for pro bono in Vault’s rankings. Pro bono matters at the firm are wide ranging, including everything from reproductive rights and LGBTQ+ rights to voting rights and immigration to literacy and special education—as a small sample.
News & Awards
Morrison & Foerster is a founding signatory of the Mansfield Rule Initiative, a program that requires at least 30 percent of candidates considered for key leadership roles are women and attorneys of color. Morrison & Foerster is one of the few firms to receive Mansfield Certification Plus, awarded to firms that have reached at least 30 percent women and minority lawyer representation in numerous leadership roles and committees.
Morrison & Foerster announced the opening of its new Boston office, which further extends the firm’s market-leading technology and life sciences capabilities and also expands the firm’s premier finance and corporate offerings. The initial expansion included adding a group of 23 finance attorneys from a Boston-headquartered boutique finance firm. That team, which joined the firm’s Financial Transactions Group, brought a leading commercial lending practice focused on the technology and life sciences sectors, as well as subscription lending.
Morrison & Foerster served as lead legal counsel to VMware, a leading innovator in enterprise software and a subsidiary of Dell Technologies Inc., in its strategic negotiations with Dell, the world’s largest private technology company, relating to Dell’s plans to go public through a complicated tracking stock transaction valued at US$21.7 billion.
Morrison & Foerster represented Uber in the nation’s highest-profile trade secrets case against Waymo, Google’s autonomous vehicle subsidiary. The firm successfully defended Uber against far-reaching preliminary injunctive relief sought by Waymo. Morrison & Foerster obtained a favorable settlement on behalf of Uber after four days of jury trial in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in San Francisco.
- Lead bankruptcy counsel to ResCap, In re Residential Capital, LLC. Case represents the first time a mortgage servicer was able to continue servicing and originating mortgages in bankruptcy and be sold as a going concern.
- Represented SoftBank in its $21.6 billion acquisition of a 78% interest in Sprint. Transaction was the largest U.S. M&A transaction of 2012 and, when announced, the largest cross-border acquisition by a Japanese company.
- Represented Novell in SCO v. NovellLinux litigation. Prevailed in a bench trial, defeated SCO’s $200 million claim in a jury trial, and defended those results on appeal in the 10th Circuit.
- American Lawyer A-List.
- Law360 Regional Powerhouse in California.
- Chambers Asia-Pacific Japan International Firm of the Year.
- National Law Journal Pro Bono Hot List.
- Yale Law Women Top 10 Firms for both Gender Equity & Family Friendliness.
Why Work Here
Among associates, "everyone is generally supportive and willing to help. There is no sense of competition at all." When it comes to treatment by partners, so often a volatile aspect of large law firms, few problems are apparent. "Hierarchy really isn't an issue here" since "there is no associate abuse or power plays at this firm." Most partners "treat associates like colleagues who they respect both personally and intellectually, rather than as indentured servants."
Making the "MoFo Difference"
By most measures, working at Morrison & Foerster is a real treat. The firm racks up healthy nine-figure revenues each year and consistently pulls a tidy profit for its partners. MoFo boasts a long list of familiar clients, including Intel, Yahoo!, Toshiba, and UPS. Big clients, however, haven't cost the firm its quality of life. Fortune magazine named the firm one of the "100 Best Companies to Work For" and Working Mother magazine has voted the firm one of the best places to work thirteen times.
425 Market Street
San Francisco, CA 94105
Phone: (415) 268-7000
Managing Partner: Larren M. Nashelsky
Hiring Partner: Craig Martin
Total No. Attorneys 2019:
750 - 1K
All U.S. offices/U.S. practice attorneys in international offices
1st year: $190,000
2nd year: $200,000
3rd year: $220,000
4th year: $255,000
5th year: $280,000
6th year: $305,000
7th year: $325,000
8th year: $340,000
Summer associate: $3,654/week
Summer Associate Offers:
74 out of 77 (2Ls) (2018)
No. of Summer Associates:
98 total (77 2Ls; 21 1Ls) (2018)
Los Angeles, CA
New York, NY
Northern Virginia, VA
Palo Alto, CA
San Diego, CA
San Francisco, CA
Business Restructuring & Insolvency
Clean Tech/Renewable Energy
Emerging Companies & Venture Capital
FCPA and Anti-Corruption
Financial Services Litigation
General Commercial Litigation
Mergers & Acquisitions
Privacy & Data Security
*See firm website for additional departments and specific practice areas and industries