Morrison & Foerster

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Morrison & Foerster LLP
Morrison and Foerster logo.svg
Headquarters425 Market Street
San Francisco
No. of offices17 (2019)[1]
No. of attorneys750 - 1000 (2019)[1]
Major practice areasMergers and acquisitions, litigation and arbitration, corporate finance, corporate restructuring, securities, banking, project finance, energy and infrastructure, antitrust, tax, intellectual property, life sciences
Key peopleLarren M. Nashelsky (Chair)
Revenue$1.15 billion (2020)[2]
Profit per equity partner$2.05 million (2020)[3]
Date founded1883
FounderAlexander Morrison
Company typeLimited liability partnership

Morrison & Foerster LLP (also known as MoFo) is an international law firm with 17 offices located throughout the United States, Asia, and Europe. The firm has over 1,000 lawyers who advise clients across a range of industries and practices, including intellectual property, patent litigation, corporate/M&A, business restructuring, and securities.[1]


Alexander Francis Morrison

In 1883, Alexander Francis Morrison (1856-1921), an alumnus of the University of California, Berkeley and Hastings College of the Law, founded the firm in San Francisco under the name O’Brien & Morrison.[4] His aim was to practice "principally in the line of corporation business."[5]

In 1891, Morrison formed a partnership with Constantine E.A. Foerster (1860-1898).[4] Starting in the 1920s and 1930s, the firm developed a deep client roster, which brought stability to sustain the firm over the next three decades.[6]

In the 1960s, a group of young partners—John Austin, Dick Archer, and Bob Raven—set out to reinvigorate the firm in response to stagnant revenue and changes in the business and social environment.[7] The strategy, resulting from the so-called "Schroeder's meetings" because they were held at the San Francisco restaurant, included ideas for modernizing the practice of law.[7] The partners replaced outmoded policies and insisted on budgets and operational plans. The firm started to recruit at law schools and began hiring women lawyers. In time, the firm rebuilt its litigation practice by training new associates on small bank cases.[8]

In 1974, the firm expanded outside San Francisco and opened an office in Los Angeles to better meet the needs of longtime client Crocker National Bank.[5]

Soon after, the firm expanded again, opening an office in Washington, D.C. in 1979 and its first non-U.S. office in London in 1980.[9]

In 1987, the firm merged with New York-based litigation company Parker Auspitz and opened its Tokyo office.[10]

The firm merged again in 1991, this time with Ciotti & Murashige.[11] A decade later, Morrison & Foerster became one of the largest international law firms in Tokyo when it merged with Ito & Mitomi.[12]

In November 2013, the firm expanded its European presence by opening an office in Berlin.[13] The following month, the German team advised Axel Springer, one of Europe's largest media companies, on its acquisition of N24 Media, Germany's largest independent producers of information.[14][15]


Morrison & Foerster represents a broad cross-section of clients, including technology and life sciences, Fortune 100 companies, and financial institutions.[16] The firm also advises startup companies and investment funds.

The firm was the lead bankruptcy counsel to Residential Capital. ResCap).[17] and secured their chapter 11 plan.[18]

In July 2013, Morrison & Foerster represented SoftBank in its $21.6 billion acquisition of a 78 percent stake in Sprint Nextel.[19] According to The Wall Street Journal, the transaction was "one of the most complex and unusual deals in the annals of takeovers."[20] The firm also represented SoftBank in Alibaba's U.S. IPO—the largest IPO in history.[21]

Pro Bono[edit]

Morrison & Foerster created a full-time pro bono counsel position.[22]

In 2014, the firm's lawyers devoted nearly 98,000 hours to pro bono work. Highlights include two appearances before the U.S. Supreme Court in the same month in cases involving reproductive rights and marriage equality.[23]

Working in tandem with the National Center for Youth Law, the firm achieved a $2.075 million settlement for seven former foster youths who were injured while in Clark County (Las Vegas) custody. The suit was originally filed in 2010 as a class action seeking systemic changes to Clark County's child welfare system.[24]

In 2014, the firm was successful in bringing a suit against the FBI that forced the agency to disclose information that had been improperly withheld and covered up details about its illegal surveillance of Muslim Americans in Northern California.[25]

In New York, the firm's finance lawyers regularly participate in the Bankruptcy Assistance Project run by Legal Services NYC, which provides pre-petition assistance to low-income individuals filing chapter 7 bankruptcy petitions.

The firm also serves as pro bono counsel to numerous nonprofits, such as The Nature Conservancy (TNC).[26][27]

MoFo also acted as pro bono counsel to Illuminate the Arts, which created the large-scale light installation known as The Bay Lights.[28]

Outside the United States, the firm provides pro bono services on a range of global issues through engagements with Advocates for International Development, the Cyrus R. Vance Center for International Justice, and pro bono clearinghouses run by TrustLaw and PILnet.[29][30]

In 2017, The National Law Journal named Morrison & Foerster to its 2017 Pro Bono Hot List.[31] Morrison & Foerster was also named a 2016 Pro Bono Firm of the Year by Law360, as well as Who's Who Legal s 2015 Pro Bono Firm of the Year.[32][33] In its annual pro bono survey, The American Lawyer ranked the firm in the top 10 for both U.S. and internal pro bono work for 2015.[34]

Morrison & Foerster Foundation[edit]

Formed in 1986, the Morrison & Foerster Foundation is a charitable foundation funded mainly by the firm's partners.[35]In total, the Foundation has donated $44 million to nonprofit organizations since its inception.[36]

The Foundation's charitable donations frequently focus on programs serving disadvantaged children and young people or that provide free legal services to low-income people.[36][37] The foundation also supports fellowship and scholarship programs to encourage diversity in higher education and the legal field.[37]

Other causes funded by the Foundation support community-based initiatives that involve food and shelter, health, and the arts.[37]

In 2015, Law360 recognized Morrison & Foerster as one of the 10 Most Charitable Law Firms.[36]


Chair: Larren Nashelsky[38]
Chief Operating Officer: Pat Cavaney
Managing Partners: Paul Friedman, Craig Martin, Eric Piesner, Tessa J. Schwartz
Corporate Department Co-Chairs: Jacklyn Liu, Thomas Knox
Finance Department Co-Chairs: Gary Lee, Nicholas Spiliotes
Litigation Department Chair: Grant Esposito, David McDowell
Tax Department Co-Chairs: Craig Fields, Thomas Humphreys, David Strong[39]


Office Managing Partner(s) Year Founded
Beijing Paul McKenzie 1998
Berlin Jens-Uwe Hinder, Hanno Timner 2013
Boston David Ephraim 2019
Brussels Tom McQuail 1991
Denver David Strong 1979
Hong Kong Timothy Blakely 1983
London Alistair Maughan, Jonathan Wheeler 1980
Los Angeles David McDowell 1974
New York Brett Miller 1987
Northern Virginia Charles Katz 2000
Palo Alto Timothy Harris 1985
San Diego Steve Rowles 1999
San Francisco Philip Besirof 1883
Shanghai Paul McKenzie 2003
Singapore Eric Piesner 2013
Tokyo Kenneth Siegel 1987
Washington, D.C. Joseph Palmore 1979

Noted professionals[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Morrison & Foerster LLP|Company Profile|". Vault. Retrieved May 27, 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. ^ "MoFo unveils 10 percent increase in revenue as PEP breaks the $2m benchmark". Retrieved May 27, 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  3. ^ "MoFo unveils 10 percent increase in revenue as PEP breaks the $2m benchmark". Retrieved May 27, 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  4. ^ a b O’Hara, Eileen, et. al. (2006). Morrison & Foerster LLP: The Evolution of a Law Firm. RR Donnelly. pp. 5
  5. ^ a b McAfee, David (July 21, 2014). California Powerhouse: Morrison & Foerster. Law360. Retrieved November 18, 2015.
  6. ^ O’Hara, Eileen, et. al. (2006). Morrison & Foerster LLP: The Evolution of a Law Firm. RR Donnelly. pp. 71
  7. ^ a b O’Hara, Eileen, et. al. (2006). Morrison & Foerster LLP: The Evolution of a Law Firm. RR Donnelly. pp. 77
  8. ^ O'Hara, Eileen, et al. (2006). Morrison & Foerster LLP: The Evolution of a Law Firm. RR Donnelly. pp. 79
  9. ^ Moore, Tom (July 9, 2014). Morrison & Foerster Appoints Paul Friedman to Newly Created European Managing Partner Role. Legal Business. Retrieved November 19, 2015.
  10. ^ Sandburg, Brenda (March 3, 2006). [1]. The American Lawyer. Retrieved November 19, 2015.
  11. ^ Somers, Terri. (September 4, 2007). Chemist in her element in biotech patent law. San Diego Union-Tribune. Retrieved November 19, 2015.
  12. ^ Smith, Heather (December 4, 2003). Made in Japan. The American Lawyer. Retrieved November 19, 2015.
  13. ^ Smith, Jennifer (September 24, 2015). Willkommen in Deutschland: Morrison & Foerster Opens in Berlin. Wall Street Journal Law Blog. Retrieved November 19, 2015.
  14. ^ Bulkeley, Andrew (December 11, 2013).Morrison & Foerster snares Springer mandate for N24 purchase Archived 2015-11-22 at the Wayback Machine. The Deal. Retrieved November 19, 2015.
  15. ^ Juve (December 10, 2013). Buying N24: Springer brought Morrison & Foerster first German prestige mandate. Retrieved November 20, 2015.
  16. ^ Morrison & Foerster Firm Profile. Chambers Associates. Retrieved November 19, 2015.
  17. ^ Chutchian, Maria (December 11, 2013). ResCap Ends Bankruptcy As Judge Confirms Liquidation Plan. Law360. Retrieved November 20, 2015.
  18. ^ Checkler, Joseph (December 11, 2013). Bankruptcy Judge Confirms ResCap Liquidation Plan. Wall Street Journal. Retrieved October 22, 2015.
  19. ^ Bulkeley, Andrew (October 15, 2013). "Softbank forges Sprint takeover deal." Archived 2015-11-22 at the Wayback Machine The Deal. Retrieved November 20, 2015.
  20. ^ MoFo Advises SoftBank in Landmark Sprint Nextel Acquisition. (Press Release). July 11, 2013. Retrieved October 22, 2015.
  21. ^ MoFo Advises SoftBank on Alibaba’s IPO. (Press Release). San Francisco, California: Morrison & Foerster LLP. September 19, 2014. Retrieved October 22, 2015.
  22. ^ Unwavering Commitment to Pro Bono. Morrison & Foerster. Retrieved October 23, 2015.
  23. ^ Coe, Aebra Pro Bono All Stars Show Dedication to Helping Others. Law360. August 21, 2015. Retrieved October 23, 2015.
  24. ^ Amaro, Yesenia (April 6, 2015). Court Approves $2.075 Million Settlement for Ex-foster Children. Las Vegas Review Journal. Retrieved October 23, 2015.
  25. ^ Bargzie, Nasrine and Julia Harumi Mass (March 23, 2015). FBI Ordered to Disclose its Surveillance Tactics on Communities. The American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California. Retrieved November 20, 2015.
  26. ^ Sustaining the Planet. Morrison & Foerster. Retrieved October 23, 2015.
  27. ^ "Pursuing Purpose and Profit" (2014). For the Public Good. Morrison & Foerster. Retrieved October 23, 2015.
  28. ^ Monumental Light Sculpture to Shine on Bay Bridge Archived 2015-05-06 at the Wayback Machine. Metropolitan Transit Commission (September 18, 2012). Retrieved November 20, 2015.
  29. ^ "Our Pro Bono Partners" (2014). For the Public Good. Morrison & Foerster. Retrieved October 22, 2015.
  30. ^ Vance Center Committee. Cyrus R. Vance Center for International Justice. Retrieved October 22, 2015.
  31. ^ "The 2017 Pro Bono Hot List". National Law Journal. Retrieved July 18, 2017. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  32. ^ Ryan, Lisa (August 21, 2015). 20 Firms Show how to Win Big and Do Good. Law360. Retrieved October 23, 2015.
  33. ^ Pro Bono. Who's Who Legal. Retrieved November 20, 2015.
  34. ^ McQueen, MP (June 29, 2015). Survey: Pro Bono Hours Dip Slightly at Am Law 200 Firms The American Lawyer. Retrieved October 23, 2015.
  35. ^ MoFo Foundation Morrison & Foerster. Retrieved October 23, 2015.
  36. ^ a b c Maleske, Melissa (September 29, 2015). The 10 Most Charitable Law Firms. Law360. Retrieved October 23, 2015.
  37. ^ a b c "Focus" (2015). Morrison & Foerster Foundation 2014 Annual Report. Morrison & Foerster. Retrieved October 23, 2015.
  38. ^ "MoFo unveils 10 percent increase in revenue as PEP breaks the $2m benchmark". Retrieved May 27, 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  39. ^ Leadership Team. Retrieved October 22, 2015.
  40. ^ Stephen A. Crockett Jr. (February 11, 2019). "Virginia Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax's Law Firm Places Him on Leave, 4 Staffers Resign Following 2nd Sexual Assault Allegation". The Root. Retrieved February 12, 2019. Morrison & Foerster, the law firm where Fairfax was named partner last September CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  41. ^ "Crystal Scripps McKellar". Morrison & Foerster. Archived from the original on February 24, 2012. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)

External links[edit]