Firm Profile > Morrison & Foerster LLP > San Francisco , United States
Morrison & Foerster LLP Offices
425 MARKET STREET
SAN FRANCISCO CA 94105-2482
Morrison & Foerster LLP > The Legal 500 Rankings
‘At the top of its game’, Morrison & Foerster LLP focuses on high-profile data breaches, enforcement actions and privacy compliance matters. Clients span the consumer products, manufacturing, retail, healthcare, pharmaceutical, transportation, food and beverage, hospitality, insurance and financial sectors. New-York based co-head Miriam Wugmeister’s ‘guidance and experience is invaluable’. She has been assisting a number of global industry leaders with their compliance with GDPR and CCPA. Julie O’Neill and Purvi Patel, who are based in Washington DC/Boston and Los Angeles respectively, have been acting for Unity Technologies in two putative class actions alleging the violation of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) by Disney and Viacom mobile gaming apps, which use the client’s software. The ‘master’ Nathan Taylor and John Carlin (both based in Washington DC) and New York-based associate Melissa Crespo are other key team members. Kristen Mathews joined the New York office from Proskauer Rose LLP in March 2019.
Fintech Tier 1
Morrison & Foerster LLP boasts extensive financial services regulations experience and leverages an interdepartmental team to handle a breadth of matters in the fintech space, with particular strength in consumer lending and mobile payments. Recent work includes advising online lender Elevate Credit on its IPO and assisting SoftBank Group with several investments in fintech companies including the $500m series F financing of Social Finance and $250m series F financing of Kabbage. The practice acts for both developers and providers of fintech, and also financial institutions investing in technology, including in emerging payment and lending solutions. Other experience includes assisting e-commerce companies in utilising payment technologies. The group is jointly led by financial services expert Obrea Poindexter; Sean Ruff, who has particular experience with funds transmission and related compliance initiatives; corporate partner Eric McCrath in San Francisco; and Palo Alto-based Stephanie Sharron, who handles a range of technology, intellectual property, and data rights issues. The team was further bolstered with the arrival of Susan Gault-Brown from Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, who boasts expertise in securities and derivatives law. All attorneys mentioned are based in Washington DC unless otherwise stated.
Government contracts Tier 1
Morrison & Foerster LLP handles a variety of government contract work, including intellectual property and licensing matters, contract claims, corporate governance, transactions and internal investigations, and it has a particular sweet spot for bid protests. It also a niche advising clients in the healthcare and life sciences industry on cost allowability and other issues. Kevin Mullen and Alex Ward jointly lead the practice. In recent matters, Ward has represented Buchanan & Edwards in, among other things, two bid protests: one at agency level which pertained to an FBI contract and led the agency to take voluntary corrective action. Northern Virginia-based Bradley Wine was busy acting for Accenture Federal Services (AFS) and Accenture; his workload included handling a number of bid protests as well as a significant internal investigation for AFS and ASM, and he further advised the company on compliance issues as a result of acquiring a new subsidiary. David Churchill, Jay DeVecchio and Northern Virginia-based Damien Specht are the other names to note. Andrew Turnbull joined as of counsel in May 2018 from Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP.
Patents: licensing Tier 1
Morrison & Foerster LLP's strong suit is transactions in the technology sector. The group combines a global footprint with in-depth knowledge of the technology sector, enabling it to assist with a broad range of instructions, including joint ventures, joint development agreements, distribution and supply agreements and outsourcing mandates. Via Licensing instructed the team to advise on a new patent tool for autonomous motor vehicles and several licensing agreements concerning existing or newly created patent pools. In a recent transactional highlight, the team advised SoundCloud on its partnership agreement with Pandora, allowing users to purchase SoundCloud's ad inventory through Pandora. Other clients include Shanghai Henlius Biotech, Wal-Mart and WM Partners. Aaron Rubin in San Francisco and Alistair Maughan in London direct the technology transactions group. Other key US practitioners include Rufus Pichler, Tessa Schwartz, Northern Virginia's Thomas Knox and Vivian Hanson in New York. John Delaney joined Perkins Coie LLP.
The advertising and marketing team at Morrison & Foerster LLP has particular experience acting for clients in the technology, retail, and food and beverage sectors. It is handling a range of food misbranding class actions for clients such as Del Monte, Twinings, McCormick, Unilever and Amazon Preservation Partners, and is acting for Uber Technologies in several matters including TCPA litigation. San Francisco-based Tiffany Cheung heads the consumer class action practice: Los Angeles-based partner Dan Marmalefsky successfully defeated the plaintiffs’ bid for a nationwide class certification in allegations of misleading statements on can labels brought against clients Monster Beverage and Monster Energy, and David McDowell continues to represent FanDuel in over 40 multi-district litigation class action matters involving allegations of false advertising and misuse of confidential or proprietary information.
Appellate Tier 2
Morrison & Foerster LLP’s appellate team provides ‘great client communication’ and ‘excellent written and oral advocacy skills’. Praised by clients as being ‘a superstar in oral argumentation’, Deanne Maynard delivers ‘efficient and effective representation during all stages of litigation’. Partnering with ‘superb’ practice co-chair Joseph Palmore at the Federal Circuit (acting on remand from the US Supreme Court), Maynard secured a unanimous victory for defendant-appellee Sandoz Inc in a dispute with Amgen Inc over the federal 2009 Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act. At the Ninth Circuit, Maynard and Brian Matsui were brought in by respondent-appellant Lummi Nation at the appeal stage of a decades-long dispute with S’Klallam tribes over the Lummi’s fishing rights in waters west of Whidbey Island; the duo won a reversal of the district court’s judgment.
The team at Morrison & Foerster LLP is called upon to represent corporate and individual clients in a range of investigations and criminal matters - particularly those with cross-border elements. In 2018-2019, the group benefited from the arrival of a number of former government lawyers, including former senior trial lawyer at the SEC Michael Birnbaum in New York; former DOJ assistant attorney general John Carlin, former senior sanctions policy adviser at OFAC Michael Dobson and former general counsel for the director of national intelligence Robert Litt in Washington DC; and, in San Francisco, former SEC regional director Jina Choi. Exemplifying the group's capabilities, Charles Duross in Washington DC and New York's Ruti Smithline were appointed to the Odebrecht monitorship by the DOJ, following a coordinated action by US, Brazilian and Swiss law enforcement agencies in relation to corrupt practices. Other key names include FCPA experts James Koukios (DC) and Amanda Aikman (New York), and Demme Doufekias (DC), who specializes in FCA and other healthcare-related cases.
Morrison & Foerster LLP impresses with an excellent track record of litigation in the life sciences, consumer products and technology sectors. Jointly led by San Francisco-based Richard Hung and Michael Jacobs, the practice group provides the full range of patent litigation services; the team has a deep bench of PTAB specialists and appellate experts, and also benefits from a big international footprint. Notably, the team regularly acts in conjunction with colleagues from the Tokyo office.
Product liability, mass tort and class actions: consumer products (including tobacco) - defense Tier 2
The product liability group at Morrison & Foerster LLP has outstanding expertise in the technology sector and often handles regulatory matters, recalls and class actions. Practice head Erin Bosman in San Diego continues to represent Fitbit together with Julie Park in two putative class actions regarding the accuracy of its sleep and heart rate tracking function, while Claudia Vetesi represented Unilever in a nationwide consumer class action in which plaintiffs allege that certain ingredients in a facial scrub cause skin irritations. In another highlight, James Schurz is defending Starbucks, Nestlé and other coffee companies against the claim that they are required under Prop 65 to provide cancer warnings on coffee based on the presence of a chemical after roasting. William Stern joined Covington & Burling LLP in January 2019. All named partners are based in San Francisco unless otherwise stated.
Real estate Tier 2
The ‘very knowledgeable, responsive and professional’ Morrison & Foerster LLP handles a broad range of real estate matters including commercial real estate equity and debt transactions, joint ventures, and the purchase and sale of all real estate asset types. The firm's client base includes banks, investment banks, mortgage REITs and debt funds. Global practice chair Mark Edelstein recently advised Wells Fargo on a $1.5bn construction loan for an office and retail tower located at 50 Hudson Yards in New York. Keith Print and Edelstein both advised Wells Fargo and a major multinational bank on a $640m construction loan to finance the construction of three large multi-family, mixed-use buildings in New York. Los-Angeles based Thomas Fileti recently acted for GLP on portfolio financing for more than 75 properties with an aggregate value of over $1bn. Christopher Delson and Edelstein worked together to advise Goldman Sachs, Hines Interests and Pontiac Land on the $860m construction financing for the MoMA Tower in New York. Philip Levine, in the Palo Alto office, represented Bayview on a $289m construction loan for the development of two luxury apartment towers in San Jose, California. The ‘excellent’ Lawrence Ceriello, who is ‘great to work with’, specializes in debt financing, securitizations and large commercial real estate loans for the CMBS market. Thomas McGovern focuses on real estate finance and restructuring. John Davie joined as of counsel from Forest City Ratner Companies. All named attorneys are based in New York unless otherwise stated.
Best known for its creditors and creditors' committees practice, Morrison & Foerster LLP also has an increasingly strong debtor-side practice, as well as representing bondholders and trustees in offshore matters. The team is led from New York by Lorenzo Marinuzzi and senior counsel James Peck, who can call on the expertise of finance department deputy chair Jennifer Marines. Also notable is New York-based Gary Lee, who led in representing holding company Real Industry in its Chapter 11 case in Delaware. The practice assisted with a plan that preserved the company’s tax attributes, allowing it to emerge from Chapter 11 in May 2018. In another highlight, Dennis Jenkins in Boston represented an ad hoc group of investors and fund managers holding notes issued by subsidiaries of Southeastern Grocers, in connection with the prepackaged Chapter 11 proceedings of Southeastern Grocers and its affiliates, a major grocery store chain that entered bankruptcy with approximately 700 stores; after filing in March 2018, the company emerged from Chapter 11 in May 2018.
Morrison & Foerster LLP acts for a variety of middle-market banks and market makers, which it advises on a variety of structured product and derivatives transactions and comprehensive US and cross-border regulatory matters. David Kaufman and of counsel James Schwartz advised Alexandria Real Estate Equities on forward transactions in connection with the company's issuances of common stock. Additionally, Kaufman and Washington DC-based of counsel Julian Hammar acted for corporates and major financial institutions in relation to various commodity-linked derivative transactions. Another key contact is Lloyd Harmetz, who is acting for Natixis in relation to various note offerings and proprietary trading matters. The team also provides a range of regulatory advice on issues including cleared and uncleared derivatives and proprietary trading. Also recommended in the Washington DC office are Susan Gault-Brown, who co-chairs the firm's blockchain and smart contracts group, and of counsel Chrys Carey, who has experience advising dealers and end-users on transactional and regulatory derivatives issues.
Technology transactions Tier 2
Morrison & Foerster LLP advises on the establishment of technology development joint ventures, technology and software licensing agreements and the outsourcing of technology-based business operations. Northern Virginia-based Thomas Knox has expertise in the cybersecurity, media and transportation sectors, and Vivian L. Hanson in New York is especially active in the areas of software and IT. Contacts in San Francisco include practice co-head Aaron P. Rubin, who regularly advises life sciences and healthcare companies, and Paul E. Jahn, who acted for Airmap, a provider of air traffic management systems for drone operations, in its transaction with the navigation systems operator Skyguide to enable the provision of air map services. Also recommended in San Francisco are William I. Schwartz and of counsel Scott Reynolds Carter. John F. Delaney left the New York team for Perkins Coie LLP in January 2019.
Morrison & Foerster LLP has a strong background in litigation as well as pre-emptive measures, such as employment and proprietary information agreements. Litigators Kenneth Kuwayti, who is based in Palo Alto, and Michael Jacobs, who is based in San Francisco, are both key figures, and are both highly skilled in the technology and life sciences sectors.
US taxes: contentious Tier 2
At Morrison & Foerster LLP, the mostly New York-based group has a reputation for state and local tax controversy matters. Key names in the group include Craig Fields, whose clients have included Agilent Technologies and Du Pont; he is advising the former in an ongoing matter at the Colorado Court of Appeals. Mitchell Newmark focuses on state and local tax litigation and appeals before administrative tribunals and judicial courts. Senior counsel Hollis Hyans and Nicole Johnson focus on company audit matters. Washington DC-based of counsel Edward Froelich specializes in federal contentious tax matters.
Morrison & Foerster LLP garners praise for its 'incredible knowledge of the law', and has been particularly active in handling mandates from the healthcare and life sciences sectors, an example of which included Palo Alto's Timothy Harris advising RefleXion Medical on its $100m Series C preferred stock financing. The team also acted for Menlo Therapeutics in its $50.5m Series C financing led by venBio, a life sciences investment firm, and assisted the same client with its subsequent $137m IPO. San Francisco partner Murray Indick shares leadership of the practice with San Diego's Steve Rowles and Thomas Knox in Northern Virginia. Susan Mac Cormac is another key contact in San Francisco.
Capital markets: debt Tier 3
Experienced in issuer and underwriter appointments Morrison & Foerster LLP’s practice group has a diverse industry focus, with recent strong showings in the real estate and hospitality areas. REIT-related work is a sweet spot and Washington DC-based REITs specialist David Slotkin advised the underwriters on Equity Residential’s $500m public notes offering. On the issuer side, Los Angeles-based senior of counsel Kenneth Kohler assisted Alexandria Real Estate Equities with two public offerings of senior notes totaling $900m. On the hospitality front, San Francisco’s Brandon Parris acted for Boyd Gaming Corporation on multiple securities deals, including a $700m senior notes offering. Washington DC-based David Lynn, who recently rejoined the firm from Jenner & Block LLP, San Francisco-based Gavin Grover and Washington DC’s Scott Lesmes co-chair the practice. John Owen joined in New York from Jones Day.
Cartel Tier 3
Lisa Phelan recently joined the antitrust team at Morrison & Foerster LLP from the DOJ, where she gathered 'unmatched experience of the regulators'. Further, Vishal Mehta and of counsel Megan Gerking arrived from Baker Botts L.L.P. and Covington & Burling LLP respectively, and in late 2019, Eliot Adelson joined the team from Kirkland & Ellis LLP. Bradley Lui is currently representing individuals in the landmark auto parts cartel case brought by the DOJ, and is advising a shipping company on a joint investigation by the DOJ and Australian competition regulator. Also notable are 'unequaled and extensively experienced' practice head Roxann Henry, who successfully defended an individual against proposed dual criminal and civil charges by the DOJ pursuant to new prosecutorial policies, and Demme Doufekias, who is currently assisting the director of a pharmaceutical company in a price-fixing investigation brought by the DOJ. All named individuals are based in Washington DC unless otherwise noted.
The antitrust litigation practice at Morrison & Foerster LLP, under the leadership of practice co-head Jeff Jaeckel, is currently representing Fujifilm and several of its subsidiaries in a federal class action brought by direct purchasers of capacitors on the grounds of alleged price-fixing, bid-rigging and output-restricting practices on a wide range of products. He also recently won a motion to dismiss on behalf of Oath in a case where plaintiffs claimed search engines such as Yahoo!, Google and Bing were harming competition by favoring a certain group of businesses in their search results, to their detriment. Brad Lui is currently acting for an employee of Citibank in a class action filed by plaintiffs claiming he conspired to reduce competition in an alleged market manipulation of USD-denominated bonds. Other key names are practice co-head David Cross and senior of counsel Roger Fones.
Copyright Tier 3
Morrison & Foerster LLP assists clients in both contentious and non-contentious copyright matters, with a strong emphasis on the entertainment and technology fields. Key figures from the team include Michael Jacobs, who is particularly strong in software disputes, and technology-focused Richard Hung.
Morrison & Foerster LLP’s compensation, benefits and ERISA practice is headed by Paul Borden, who advises on a wide range of matters relating to employee benefits, fiduciary and prohibited transaction issues arising from M&A transactions. Domnick Bozzetti sits in New York and is a key name for equity and non-equity executive compensation arrangements in the context of mergers and IPOs. Also recommended are of counsel Linda Barrett in Palo Alto, and of counsels Ali Nardali and Amanda Hines Gold. Ann Becchina and Ron Aizen joined the practice from Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP, and Yana Johnson left the firm for Jackson Lewis P.C.. Named lawyers are based in San Francisco unless otherwise stated.
Morrison & Foerster LLP advises leading investors and private equity firms, developers, banks and non-bank lenders, and renewable energy companies. San Francisco-based Susan Mac Cormac heads the practice and focuses on working with renewable energy start-up companies and developers in the solar, wind and biofuel industries; Mac Cormac recently acted for Emerson Collective Investments in relation to its $5m investment in Natel Energy. Another name to note is Los Angeles-based Elizabeth Sluder, who advised Cathay Bank on its $30m tax equity investment into Sunnova, which was the first such investment made by the client. Goldman Sachs, Apex Clean Energy and EDF Renewables are also among the team's clients.
Outsourcing Tier 3
Morrison & Foerster LLP is involved in the outsourcing of technology-based business operations for clients in the pharmaceuticals, healthcare, cybersecurity and insurance technology sectors. Vivian L. Hanson, who is based in New York, heads the practice and San Francisco-based Paul E. Jahn is also recommended. The firm saw a number of departures in 2018-2019: Christopher D. Ford left the Washington DC office for Ballard Spahr LLP in August 2018, New York-based John F. Delaney joined Perkins Coie LLP in January 2019, and Scott W. Stevenson, also in Washington DC, left for Culhane Meadows Haughian & Walsh PLLC.
Morrison & Foerster LLP focuses on the technology, life sciences and consumer product sectors. A standout feature is the group's experience of agriculture patents, including plant patents, and its track record of advising on plant variety protection certificates and plant breeders rights; practice head Michael Ward is the key figure in this area. Jonathan Bockman in the Northern Virginia office directs the East Coast patent prosecution group, while Los Angeles' Mehran Arjomand leads the IPR and post-grant practice. Peng Chen joined Rimon PC.
Product liability, mass tort and class actions: pharmaceuticals and medical devices - defense Tier 3
The San Diego-based team at Morrison & Foerster LLP handles product liability lawsuits, MDLs and class actions for pharmaceutical and medical manufacturing companies. Practice head Erin Bosman and Julie Park continue to represent McKesson in product liability litigation regarding Zofran, Eliquis, Taxotere, and Reglan, and are also acting for Fresenius Kabi in litigation concerning heparin contamination. The firm’s client roster also includes MicroPort Orthopedics.
Morrison & Foerster LLP is noted for its work in the food and beverages industry. Indeed, the team is acting for the Hershey Company, the National Confectioners Association and Barry Callebaut in litigation and negotiations relating to the allowable levels of lead and cadmium in chocolate, and is also defending several coffee companies against claims that manufacturers and retailers are required to provide cancer warnings on coffee. In an environmental matter, the team represented a government contractor in a putative class action involving personal injury and property damage claims resulting from environmental contamination. Erin Bosman in San Diego leads the team; James Schurz and William Tarantino in San Francisco are also recommended.
Morrison & Foerster LLP's REIT practice is 'commercial in focus and speaks in plain English, yet has very strong technical skills'. It has a strong bench of attorneys, who are experienced in capital markets, M&A, tax, real estate, real estate financing, investment management, and corporate governance. The team assisted longstanding client MedEquities Realty Trust, a REIT that is focused on healthcare properties, with its merger agreement with Omega Healthcare Investors. David Slotkin is 'very experienced and provides excellent legal and practical business advice'; Justin Salon 'takes a holistic approach to serving clients and is very knowledgeable' and the 'excellent' Lauren Bellerjeau 'runs circles around M&A lawyers on the other side'. Alice Connaughton, who advises public, non-traded REITs, was hired from Greenberg Traurig LLP, while Morris, Manning & Martin, LLP's former co-group head Heath Linsky joined in Atlanta. The lawyers recommended are in Washington DC unless otherwise stated.
At Morrison & Foerster LLP, which has busy teams in both California and New York, 'the securities defense attorneys are substantially thorough, experienced, ethical and prompt', according to one client. Another points out that the 'outstanding, brilliant' Joel Haims and other New York practitioners are 'so knowledgeable that they can anticipate the upcoming issues that will arise'. Haims, Jordan Eth in San Francisco and Dimitria Doufekias in Washington DC are the co-chairs of the securities litigation, enforcement and white-collar defense group. Haims and Jamie Levitt represented online crafts marketplace Etsy, Inc in a class action alleging that the company knowingly concealed information that certain products might be counterfeit or infringe intellectual property, triggering a stock drop after its IPO. Haims and James Beha successfully represented the former CEO and CFO of Nortel Networks in a securities class action filed after the company's bankruptcy.
Morrison & Foerster LLP has wide-ranging corporate and finance capabilities spanning warehouse financing and structured lending, and has niche expertise in acting for alternative lenders and online lending platforms. Geoffrey Peck and Los Angeles-based Kenneth Kohler acted for LendingClub Corporation in relation to a warehouse credit agreement, which was secured by a pool of consumer loans. Also of note, the team advised Longitude Ventures on a $47.5m 144A transaction backed by royalties from a prescription drug portfolio. The group also has experience in PACE securitization, timeshare loan and credit card receivables securitizations. Despite its continued activity, the practice group took a hit in 2018, losing Anna Pinedo, Jerry Marlatt and Bradley Berman to Mayer Brown.
The life sciences and REIT sectors accounted for most of Morrison & Foerster LLP’s equity transactions during 2018. Among its highlights, Northern Virginia-based Stephen Thau and San Francisco’s Alfredo Silva advised Menlo Therapeutics on its $136.9m IPO. On the REIT front, Los Angeles-based senior of counsel Kenneth Kohler assisted Alexandria Real Estate Equities with a significant public share offering. The firm also acts for managers, which recently included Washington DC-based Justin Salon advising the underwriters on Plymouth Industrial REIT’s $42.5m follow-on offering of shares. San Francisco-based Gavin Grover and Washington DC-based Scott Lesmes co-chair the department together with Washington DC-based David Lynn, who recently rejoined the practice from Jenner & Block LLP. The firm also recently added corporate finance partner John Owen in New York from Jones Day.
Environment: litigation Tier 4
Morrison & Foerster LLP has particular expertise in Proposition 65 cases, and also handles ESA, Clean Water Act, CEQA, NEPA, and consumer products matters. It is representing over 50 major coffee manufacturers, including Starbucks, Krafts Heinz and Nestlé, in a Proposition 65 claim relating to the alleged increased risk of cancer to humans due to the chemical acrylamide, created when coffee beans are roasted; of counsel Robin Stafford is working on the case. William Tarantino heads the 13-strong team, which further includes Michael Steel, who is handling hazardous waste cases for large retailers in California, and Robert Falk. All practitioners are San Francisco based. Michèle Corash retired.
Environment: regulatory Tier 4
Morrison & Foerster LLP’s integrated environmental, natural resources, and land use group advises on compliance and enforcement, due diligence, consumer products law and regulation, and emerging issues, such as permitting and entitlement matters involving climate change, greenhouse gas emissions, carbon trading, and renewable and non-renewable energy. In a landmark case, the firm has been representing over 50 coffee manufacturers, including Starbucks, Kraft Heinz, and Nestlé, in a trial claiming that coffee manufacturers and retailers are required under Proposition 65 to provide cancer warnings on coffee, based on the chemical acrylamide, which is created when coffee beans are roasted. Based in San Francisco, Michael Steel, William Tarantino, and senior counsel Robert Falk are the key practitioners. Michèle Corash retired.
Leveraging the firm's strong regulatory capability, particularly as it relates to issues impacting the credit card sector, Morrison & Foerster LLP is well positioned to represent clients across a range of consumer finance-related private litigation and agency enforcement actions/investigations, irrespective of geographical location. The team has picked up a significant amount of Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) related disputes, and led out San Francisco by Angela Kleine and Jim McCabe is representing DHI Group and Dice in a putative class action alleging that companies offering an online employment recruiting platform should be classified as a 'consumer reporting agency' under the FCRA. 'Terrific' New York-based co-head David Fioccola is 'superb at handling complex litigation', which often includes representing financial services clients. San Francisco-based co-head James McGuire is also recommended.
With the ability to draw upon the expertise of lawyers based on both coasts, as well as in key locations across Europe and Asia, Morrison & Foerster LLP has the breadth and depth to handle both pure domestic regulatory matters as well as those requiring a global perspective and analysis. The firm's traditional strength in the retail sector continues, with practitioners including 'fantastic' senior partner Rick Fischer (who has been at the vanguard of payments-related matters for four decades) and Oliver Ireland - both of whom are based n New York - regularly promoting policy change on behalf of interested parties in the sector. Another core strength is the team's work on behalf of foreign financial institutions seeking to expand their business operations in the US, either by virtue of merger activity or in a greenfield capacity. In this regard, the 'superb' New York-based Jiang Liu is particularly well versed in advising Chinese financial entities on the regulatory implications of their US activities; he recently helped secure regulatory approval for China Merchants Group to extend credit and service loans through a US subsidiary. Based out of Los Angeles, senior counsel Henry Fields has longstanding expertise within the bank M&A space and, alongside of counsel Ben Chung, recently advised CVB Financial (the holding company for Citizens Business Bank) on its $903m merger with Community Bank. New York-based Barbara Mendelson is noted for her work on behalf of foreign banks impacted by US regulatory strictures and is a key part of the team, as is Washington DC-based fintech expert Obrea Poindexter.
International tax Tier 4
At Morrison & Foerster LLP, San Francisco’s Bernie Pistillo is a key partner, advising on the US federal income tax aspects of international and domestic mergers and acquisitions, corporate restructurings and spin-offs. He recently advised SoftBank in relation to its $1bn investment in WorldVu Satellites. David Strong, managing partner of the Denver office, is another key name. Senior counsel Thomas Humphreys departed in February 2018 to Mayer Brown's New York office, while Remmelt Reigersman joined the same firm in Palo Alto.
Leading trial lawyers Tier 4
Arturo González - Morrison & Foerster LLP Arturo González is known for his 'energetic and emotive' victories in the courtroom. Chair of the firm's commercial litigation practice group, González has recently secured a defense verdict against VMware on allegations of copyright infringement and breaches in a $110 million claim. Described by a client as 'a sight to be seen in the courtroom', González is representing Uber in a high-profile trade secrets dispute with Waymo, Google’s autonomous vehicle subsidiary, which he led to a favorable settlement.
M&A: large deals ($1bn+) Tier 4
Morrison & Foerster LLP remains at the forefront of telecoms, media and technology (TMT) deals. In part, this is driven by its relationship with SoftBank Group, the acquisitive Japanese conglomerate. The firm advised Sprint and its controlling shareholder SoftBank on its landmark merger with T-Mobile US. The firm also advised SoftBank on its $7.7bn primary and secondary investment in Uber and advised the Japanese client on its $4.4bn series of investments in WeWork Companies. Former co-chair of the global M&A practice, Robert Townsend, joined SoftBank as chief legal officer in 2018, which should further cement the firm's relationship with its anchor client, although it will deprive it of one of its more respected and senior M&A practitioners. In another headline deal, the firm represented Renesas Electronics in its $6.7bn acquisition of Integrated Device Technology. The team 'is able to provide seamless and uninterrupted advice across many jurisdictions and time zones with a strong focus on client service'. Palo Alto partner Charles Comey is recommended for deals involving Chinese corporates and New York's Spencer Klein is noted for healthcare and life sciences transactions. Eric McCrath and Brandon Parris have fine records in technology sector deals; both 'are greatly skilled at advising on most complex and high-profile M&A transactions'. Washington DC partners David Slotkin and Lauren Bellerjeau are 'key members of the team' and recommended for real estate M&A. Global corporate group co-chair Jaclyn Liu is also highly reputed. Named partners are based in San Francisco unless stated otherwise.
Merger control Tier 4
Jeff Jaeckel is a key name to note in Morrison & Foerster LLP's antitrust team, which recently welcomed Vishal Mehta from Baker Botts L.L.P., Lisa Phelan from the DOJ and of counsel Megan Gerking from Covington & Burling LLP. Jaeckel is currently working alongside David Meyer as lead counsel to Sprint and SoftBank regarding Spint's blockbuster merger with T-Mobile. Also notable is the firm's work for Infineon Technologies in its cross-border sale of its radio frequency power business division to Cree, and Jaeckel's advice to Fujifilm on its proposed acquisition of Xerox. Associate Kerry Jones is also a key name to note in the Washington DC office, where all named attorneys are based.
Morrison & Foerster LLP has an established reputation in the life sciences, technology and consumer electronics sectors. The team includes senior counsel Brian Busey in Washington DC, Daniel Muino and Mark Whitaker.
Trademarks: litigation Tier 4
Morrison & Foerster LLP is recommended for the full scope of trademark-related disputes in federal and state courts. In San Francisco, Jennifer Lee Taylor chairs the practice and is experienced in acting on matters related to apparel, medical devices, pharmaceuticals and motorcycles, among others. Benjamin Fox, a specialist in a wide range of industries, including entertainment, healthcare and financial services, is a standout attorney in the Los Angeles office.
US taxes: non-contentious Tier 4
Morrison & Foerster LLP’s tax department handles M&A and REIT deals, SALT matters and restructuring, and has particular experience of the TMT, real estate and financial services industries. In one matter, Bernie Pistillo in San Francisco advised SoftBank on the tax aspects of its $5bn investment in Didi, and also on its $7.7bn primary and secondary investment as part of a $9.3bn sale of stock by Uber. Pistillo is also advising Sprint and SoftBank Group (the controlling shareholder of Sprint) on the tax aspects of the merger between Sprint and T-Mobile US. In San Diego, Shane Shelley acted for the management team of Parkway REIT in the acquisition of Parkway by the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board for approximately $1.2bn. Joy MacIntyre in San Francisco and David Strong based in Denver are also recommended. Jay Blaivas joined the New York office from The Blackstone Group, and William Gorrod joined the San Francisco office from Greenberg Traurig LLP in June 2018.
Healthcare: life sciences Tier 5
Morrison & Foerster LLP’s team is made up of corporate, transactional, IP and litigation professionals. The names to note are San Diego-based senior counsel David Doyle, who focuses on patent litigation disputes for pharmaceutical, biotechnology, medical device and other technology companies; corporate and M&A specialist Spencer Klein in New York; and Palo Alto’s Janet Xiao, who advises clients on patent procurement, patent portfolio management and strategic planning. Abraxis BioScience, DaVita and Sandoz are recent clients. Bethany Hill joined the New York office from Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C., in a move that strengthens the team's FDA regulatory capabilities.
Private equity buyouts Tier 5
Morrison & Foerster LLP has impressive mid-market and large-cap credentials, particularly in its San Francisco office. Its large-cap work is primarily associated with anchor client SoftBank, which it advised on its $7.7bn primary and secondary investment in Uber, as part of the company's $9.3bn sale of stock. In the middle market space, it advised Windjammer Capital portfolio company Flinn Scientific on its acquisition of WhiteBox Learning. Other key clients include Alpine Investors, Francisco Partners, Main Post Partners and Vision Ridge Partners. Key partners in the team are Dario Avram, Patrick Huard and Eric McCrath in San Francisco, Alex Kaufman in Palo Alto, and Denver-based Erik Knudsen. Former in the New York office, Jonathan Melmed has joined King & Spalding LLP.
Morrison & Foerster LLP regularly handles project finance mandates in the renewables space, acting for sponsor and lender clients. Elizabeth Sluder in Los Angeles acted for Cathay Bank in its first tax equity investment into Sunnova. Elsewhere, the firm advised Apex Clean Energy on the sale of a 163MW wind power project on the Gulf Coast in Texas to Sammons Renewable Energy. Of counsel Julia Balas, who is based across the firm’s Los Angeles and New York offices, is also a key figure. The team saw a number of departures, including that of Jeffrey Kayes, who joined Baker Botts L.L.P. in 2018.
Morrison & Foerster LLP > Firm Profile
With approximately 1,000 lawyers in 16 offices, Morrison & Foerster is a preeminent global law firm dedicated to delivering business-oriented results to clients across the United States, Europe and Asia. Dynamic technology and life science companies, large financial institutions, leading consumer product companies and other market leaders come to MoFo for knowledge, innovation and business aptitude. MoFo handles some of the world’s largest cross-border transactions and resolves major disputes across multiple jurisdictions. The firm has a long-standing commitment to pro bono work and social justice.
Main areas of practice: Business Restructuring & Insolvency: MoFo is counsel to debtors, creditors’ committees, secured lenders, and other participants in the distressed markets in large, complex matters. The firm is a market leader in creditors’ committee representation, cross-border insolvencies, distressed real estate, the restructuring of financial institutions, insolvencies involving key intellectual property, and hedge fund failures.
Capital markets:The firm is a leading firm for issuer and underwriter representations for IPOs, offerings of debt, hybrid, preferred and structured securities, private placements, PIPEs, 144A/Reg S offerings, continuous issuance programs, including MTN, CP and covered bond programs. MoFo is a pioneer in developing synthetic products, hybrid securities, structured products and derivatives.
Finance: MoFo has one of the most experienced finance practices in the U.S. Our finance attorneys maintain an impressive borrower-side client roster, working extensively for private equity funds and private companies in acquisitions and refinancings, while also offering extensive experience in acting for certain lenders and credit funds. In addition, MoFo assists clients in all aspects of project finance and development around the world with a focus on energy, alternative energy, and renewable resources. The group has also become very well known in the Blockchain, Cryptocurrencies and Smart Contracts space.
Intellectual property: MoFo is a global IP powerhouse, developing novel solutions for protecting and enforcing some of the most prized IP in the world. MoFo is called upon to represent clients in their most high-profile and complex patent, copyright, trademark, trade dress, trade secrets, and licensing matters.
Investigations:The team has experience handling internal and government investigations on six continents and in more than 65 countries, bringing significant cross-border experience to compliance and enforcement matters worldwide. MoFo provides advice on the many U.S. and foreign laws regulating international business transactions including the FCPA, the U.K. Bribery Act, Sarbanes-Oxley, federal securities laws, the whistleblower provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act, international trade, export control and sanctions laws, and AML/BSA. The firm have successfully represented many clients in obtaining favorable settlements or other resolutions—often ending with the DOJ or other government enforcement bodies closing their investigations with no action taken.
Litigation:The firm’s litigators are renowned for their success in high-stakes, complex cases—representing clients in all stages of federal and state litigation, from grand jury to trial through to appeal. MoFo drive strategy to position our clients for the best possible outcome, whether that is winning at trial or resolving a matter quickly. The team includes top trial and appellate lawyers, as well as leading practitioners in securities, financial services, consumer and false advertising, product liability, environmental, and employment litigation as well as white-collar criminal defense, antitrust and unfair competition, and international arbitration. MoFo is a destination firm for class actions, no matter the subject area, and understand the shortest path to win and resolve cases.
Mergers and acquisitions: MoFo has a leading global M&A practice. The depth and breadth of the practice, including a strong focus on cross-border transactions, reflects the dynamic nature of clients, which include Fortune 500 companies, private equity sponsors, investment banks, and privately held companies.
Privacy & Data Security: MoFo’s market-leading privacy and data security group is a destination for clients—from startups to sophisticated global clients alike—seeking advice on every aspect of privacy laws and regulations, as well as incident preparedness and response. The team helps companies fit compliance with evolving data protection laws within the context of a truly global, consistent strategy, and have also served as lead counsel and coordinated all components of clients’ responses to some of the highest-profile data breaches of recent years.
Real estate: MoFo is a recognized leader across a broad spectrum of real estate activities, including development deals, acquisitions and dispositions, leases, market standard and complex financings, and restructurings. Its clients include lenders, developers, equity investors, and REITs.
Tax: MoFo’s tax practice enjoys a global reputation for innovative tax planning and the successful resolution of important tax controversies. The group advises on state and local tax, federal tax, compensation, benefits and ERISA, and trusts, estates and nonprofit organizations.
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Staff FiguresNumber of Partners : 316 Number of Other Lawyers : 738
OtherChair : Larren M Nashelsky Managing Partners : Paul Friedman Managing Partners : Craig Martin Managing Partners : Eric Piesner Managing Partners : Tessa Schwartz International Offices : Beijing International Offices : Berlin International Offices : Brussels International Offices : Hong Kong International Offices : London International Offices : Shanghai International Offices : Singapore International Offices : Tokyo
Diversity and Inclusion
Our Diversity Mission
Diversity has long been a core value of Morrison & Foerster. More than 20 years ago, we formally implemented our diversity mission statement, which continues to define the firms cultural values today. We understand that fostering an environment of inclusion enables us to offer a wide range of perspectives to provide exemplary services to our clients.
As we state in our mission statement We at Morrison & Foerster will continue our work to break down barriers to equal opportunity, to value fully the differences among people in our organization while recognizing our similarities, and to create an atmosphere in which each individual can develop his or her potential to the fullest extent possible the firm believes that diversity among its lawyers and staff serves its overall institutional values, which emphasize excellence in client service, collegiality, respect for everyone, professional and business ethics, and duty to the profession and the community.
Spotlight: Diversity Strategy Committee
At Morrison & Foerster we believe bringing diverse experiences to our work strengthens the quality of the service that we provide to our clients, the legal profession, and our communities. We are committed to creating an environment that promotes and celebrates diversity and inclusion.
Formed in 2003, MoFos Diversity Strategy Committee (DSC) supports a variety of internal diversity initiatives, programs, and groups designed to recruit, train, mentor, and retain diverse lawyers and staff.
The DSC is comprised of senior and mid-level partners, including the firms chair, and a firmwide managing partner, as well as the director of diversity and inclusion and director of attorney development.
Spotlight: Women’s Strategy Committee
Morrison & Foerster has long championed the advancement of women within the legal profession, providing our clients with the best legal talent. Creating an inclusive culture that supports the growth and development of talented women lawyers is at the heart of our shared values and commitment. When our women succeed, we succeed as a firm.
Founded in 2006, MoFos Womens Strategy Committee (WSC) works closely with firm leaders including the firms chair, firmwide managing partners, executive committee, and board of directors to ensure that the advancement of women is a constant strategic priority.
Twenty-six partners, counsel, of counsel, and associates serve on the WSC, along with seven members of our senior staff.
Diversity Leadership Q&A
What is the ethos behind the firms approach to diversity?
At Morrison & Foerster, diversity is fundamental to who we are as a firm. Were a mix of individuals from various ethnic, cultural, and racial backgrounds united in a belief that our shared diversity makes a difference in serving the interests of our clients, our profession, and our communities. Thats why we continuously work to attract, develop, and retain talented lawyers with diverse backgrounds. Ultimately, our goal is to create an environment in which our lawyers can see and recognize MoFo as a firm where they can professionally grow, advance, and make a meaningful difference.
What has a more diverse and inclusive workplace brought to your firm, and also to your clients?
We believe that diversity adds value to our organization by attracting the most talented people possible. By creating an inclusive environment that makes the best use of the talents of those who work here, we enhance our ability to serve our clients. By bringing diverse experiences to our work, we are not only able to provide more innovative solutions to the complex issues our clients present, but the quality of our work product and decision making is strengthened. Diversity is critical to our ability to effectively serve our clients, the legal profession, and our communities.
How do you encourage a more diverse and inclusive workplace?
The firm communicates and encourages the importance of diversity and inclusion in a variety of ways including through internal training and workshops, firmwide executive communications from the chair and managing partners, a D+I newsletter, digital and social media, and the firms intranet. We also include questions related to diversity and inclusion in our partner evaluation process.
In 2017, the firm became one of only 44 firms to participate in the Mansfield Certification Pilot and committed to ensuring at least 30 percent of our talent pools for leadership positions, promotions and lateral hiring are diverse. In that same year, the firm created a department dedicated to diversity and inclusion to oversee the firms diversity efforts and ensure diversity and inclusion is top of mind.
We also hold a series of biannual town halls to discuss diversity and inclusion in each of our domestic offices and in Asia. During these meetings we not only solicit and receive associate feedback but also disseminate information about and encourage attorneys to actively support the firms diversity and inclusion efforts.
What is needed to help bring more diverse candidates into the legal profession?
A true commitment to increasing diversity, open communication, a willingness to learn, and the will to practice inclusiveness every day.
What are your policies for recruitment, and what are the major challenges?
In 2013, the firm created what is now known as the Wetmore Fellowship, which allows us to interview and hire the most talented diverse first-year law students as summer associates. We also remain committed to participating in diverse talent pipeline development programs like the SEO Scholars program, 1L LCLD Scholars, Law Preview, and Legal Outreach.
The firm has two Partner Recruiting Committees focused on identifying and supporting diverse and women lateral partner candidates through the interview/hiring process.
Retention of diverse staff is a critical issue what are the programs your firm has in place that you feel will help retain your staff?
The firm invests in actively promoting and supporting sponsorship of diverse and women associates and provides unconscious bias training on an ongoing basis. It has created two Associate Advisory and Engagement Committees on diversity and womens affairs to ensure open, honest, and consistent dialogue among associates and between associates and partners.
Firmwide, we have 29 affinity groups that give voice to lawyers of color, women lawyers, LGBTQ+ lawyers, working parents, and veterans. The firm holds local, regional, and firmwide diversity workshops, training, and events which firm leaders attend and participate in, and reiterate the importance of diversity.
A Longstanding Core Value: Firmwide Initiatives and Programs
Investing in the next generation of diverse leaders is a key priority at MoFo. Our Diversity Mentoring Program supports the development of under-represented minority associates by matching them with partners who mentor the attorneys through their associate years.
Senior lawyers across the firm including women and men readily acknowledge their indebtedness to the mentorship and guidance they received early in their careers and are committed to paying back that debt by sponsoring senior women associates for partnership.
Fostering a Culture of Inclusion
We are constantly looking to improve and build on the training and programs we offer our lawyers. As a firm, we provide opportunities for our diverse lawyers to talk candidly about issues they are facing and how we can address them.
Our affinity group programs for lawyers of color, women lawyers, and LGBTQ+ lawyers create a sense of community. Launched in 2008, the programs have expanded to include more than two dozen affinity groups.
Founded in 2011, our Keith Wetmore 1L Fellowship for Excellence, Diversity, and Inclusion awards fellowships to promising first-year law students who are members of historically under-represented groups in the legal profession.
For More Information
For more information on our diversity-related programs and initiatives, visit here.
For more information on our MoFo women-related programs and initiatives, visit here.
Stay up to date on our firmwide diversity events and activities by subscribing to our MoFo+ blog here.
Awards and Accolades
We are honored to be recognized for our commitment to diversity in our firm, in our communities, and the legal profession.
- The American Lawyer has ranked MoFo a top 15 firm on its Diversity Scorecard for 17 years in a row. MoFo was among the top 10 law firms in 2017.
- In 2018, MoFo was named to Yale Law Womens inaugural list of Top 10 Female Friendly Firms.
- Vault 100 ranked MoFo among the top 15 firms for LGBT diversity, the top 25 firms for minorities, and the top 20 firms for women.
- Named Law Firm of the Year for Flexible Working Environments and Innovative Programs for Mothers at the 2017 Chambers Women in Law Awards
- For 15 consecutive years, the Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index has given MoFo a 100 percent perfect rating in its annual report on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender equality in corporate America.
- 2017 marks the ninth year MoFo has been named to Working Mothers list of the Top 50 Firms for Women.
- For seven consecutive years, MoFo has received Gold Standard Certification from the Women in Law Empowerment Forum in recognition of the integration of women into the firms top leadership.
|Firm has a written diversity strategy that has been communicated to all Firm attorneys.||Firm gives billable credit for work that is directly related to diversity efforts (but is not pro bono work).||Firm ties a component of partner compensation to diversity efforts.||Firm has a diversity committee that includes senior partners and that reports to the Firm’s highest governing body.||Firm has a full or part-time diversity professional who performs diversity-related tasks.||Firm has affinity or employee resource groups for its women and diverse attorneys, which meet at least quarterly.||Firm has a succession plan that specifically emphasizes greater inclusion of women and diverse lawyers.||Firm mandates and monitors that minority and women attorneys have equal access to clients, quality work assignments, committee appointments, marketing efforts and Firm events.||Firm requires inclusion of at least one diverse candidate in all hiring decisions.||Firm policy specifically prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.||Firm provides opportunity for attorneys to voluntarily disclose their sexual orientation or gender identity and expression through Firm data collection procedures.||Firm policy specifically provides for paid maternity leave.||Firm policy specifically provides for paid paternity leave.||Firm has a formal, written part-time policy that permits partners to be part-time.||Firm has a flex-time policy.||Firm provides for or mandates diversity training for all lawyers and staff.||Firm has a supplier diversity program.|
Top Tier Firm Rankings
- Cyber law (including data privacy and data protection)
- Government contracts
- Patents: licensing
- Advertising and marketing: litigation
- Corporate investigations and white-collar criminal defense
- Patents: litigation (full coverage)
- Product liability, mass tort and class actions: consumer products (including tobacco) - defense
- Real estate
- Restructuring (including bankruptcy): corporate
- Structured finance: derivatives and structured products
- Technology transactions
- Trade secrets (litigation and non-contentious matters)
- US taxes: contentious
- Venture capital and emerging companies
- Capital markets: debt
- Civil litigation/class actions: defense
- Employee benefits, executive compensation and retirement plans: transactional
- Energy: renewable/alternative power
- Patents: prosecution (including re-examination and post-grant proceedings)
- Product liability, mass tort and class actions: pharmaceuticals and medical devices - defense
- Product liability, mass tort and class actions: toxic tort - defense
- Real estate investment trusts (REITs)
- Securities litigation - defense
- Structured finance: securitization
- Capital markets: equity offerings
- Environment: litigation
- Environment: regulatory
- Financial services litigation
- Financial services regulation
- International tax
- Leading trial lawyers
- M&A: large deals ($1bn+)
- Merger control
- Patents: litigation (International Trade Commission)
- Trademarks: litigation
- US taxes: non-contentious
- Healthcare: life sciences
- Private equity buyouts
- Project finance