2021 Vault Rankings
- New York#27
At a Glance
“The commitment to diversity and pro bono.”
“The flexibility at the firm is the best.”
“My colleagues are terrific.”
“Unpredictable work hours.”
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—in fact, the firm is among the top 5 firms in Vault’s Privacy & Data Security ranking.
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 25 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.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, MoFo’s focus on recruiting and retaining top talent has not wavered. We remain committed to growing our diverse and collaborative community. MoFo was built on, and continues to succeed, because of the talent of our lawyers and their innovative approach to the practice of law. That innovation and creativity has served us well as we have been challenged and emboldened to find new virtual ways to connect as a firm and support one another and our recruits. In April 2020, our U.S. Hiring Partners hosted an engaging virtual panel with 230+ law students that offered a glimpse into “what matters at MoFo,”, shared plans for our virtual summer program, and discussed the new legal landscape. Fostering connections with recruits is our priority and we will continue to leverage technology to host virtual events, training programs, and informational panels during this recruiting season.
News & Awards
On June 25, 2020, Morrison & Foerster committed to the “Invest in Parents” pledge. By taking the pledge, the firm has vowed to take action to protect and invest in working parents who have been impacted by COVID-19—particularly working mothers—and help them remain and thrive in the workforce.
Morrison & Foerster was named on The Boston Business Journal’s “Best Places to Work” list. To determine this year’s results, employee survey participants were asked to rate their work environment, work-life balance, job satisfaction, advancement opportunities, management, compensation, and benefits.
Morrison & Foerster won a verdict that conditions in customs and border protection holding cells were unconstitutional. In a groundbreaking decision, a federal district judge in Arizona granted a permanent injunction requiring a Customs & Border Protection facility in Tucson to provide the civil detainees who are held there for more than 48 hours with a bed, blanket, shower, potable food and water, and a medical assessment because the conditions former detainees suffered violate the U.S. Constitution.
MoFo secured a landmark settlement advancing California school children’s right to literacy. This was the first civil rights lawsuit ever brought under any state constitution to secure students’ right to achieve literacy.
- Apple Inc. v. Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd.: Morrison & Foerster represented Apple in its litigation against Samsung that spanned nine countries in 11 jurisdictions, including an initial jury verdict for Apple of more than $1.1 billion.
- MoFo served as lead counsel to Sprint and SoftBank in the landmark $59 billion merger between Sprint and T-Mobile and Sprint’s related sale of approximately $5 billion in pre-paid assets to DISH Network, one of the most significant telecommunications transactions since the passage of the Telecommunications Act of 1996.
- Morrison & Foerster represented the motion picture industry in the On Command Video case, which established that on-demand video systems require a license under the copyright’s public performance right.
- MoFo advised VMware on a complex $21.7 billion plan that returned Dell to the stock market. The board of directors of VMware Inc. announced an $11 billion one-time special dividend pro rata to all VMware stockholders payable in connection with the closing of the transaction announced by Dell.
- Am Law A-List, 2020—The American Lawyer
- 100% rating, 2020—Corporate Equality Index
- Recognized in 30 practice rankings and 44 lawyer rankings, 2019—Chambers Asia-Pacific
- 41 practice rankings and 57 individual rankings recognized, 2019—Chambers Global
- Four attorneys (Jack W. Londen, Litigation, Intellectual Property; Mark C. Zebrowski, Bet-the-Company Litigation; Michael G. O’Bryan, Mergers and Acquisitions Law; William I. Schwartz, Information Technology Law) named “Lawyers of the Year” Best Lawyers, 2021—Best Lawyers
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 2020:
750 - 1K
No. of Partners Named 2020:
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
Director of Attorney Recruiting
No. of U.S. Offices: 9
No. of International Offices: 8
Los Angeles, CA
New York, NY
Northern Virginia, VA
Palo Alto, CA
San Diego, CA
San Francisco, CA
Washington, DC I Beijing
Business Restructuring & Insolvency
Emerging Companies & Venture Capital
FCPA and Anti-Corruption
Financial Services Litigation
General Commercial Litigation
Mergers & Acquisitions
Privacy & Data Security
Social Enterprise + Impact Investing
White Collar Defense
*See firm website for complete list of practice areas and industries.