Firm Profile > Morrison & Foerster LLP > London, England
Morrison & Foerster LLP Offices
52 Lime Street
Morrison & Foerster LLP > The Legal 500 Rankings
Debt capital markets Tier 3
Morrison & Foerster LLP is 'undoubtedly one of the top London practices on US private placements - its experience, deal flow, currency of knowledge and expert insight is invaluable'. Elsewhere, the London office also handles other issuance programmes for clients. The highly-rated team includes the 'tenacious and passionate' Brian Bates and the 'sensible, proportionate and very calm' Scott Ashton. Jeremy Jennings-Mares' practice encompasses securities, structured products, derivatives and structured financings. Another name to note is Peter Green, who handles EMTN programmes, as well as credit, equity, commodity and fund–linked securities issuances.
‘The MoFo team is undoubtedly one of the top London practices on US private placements. Their experience, deal flow, currency of knowledge and expert insight is invaluable.’
‘Brian Bates has been doing this a very long time, but is still as tenacious and passionate as ever. He has a very clear and direct style that is highly impactful at C-Suite level. And, of course, all that experience adds so much value, particularly in the context of difficult situations.’
‘Scott Ashton is a very smart lawyer; his technical capability around US private placement deals and documents is top-tier. His style is sensible, proportionate and very calm, whatever pressures are circling. Put simply, I can always rely on Scott to get it right and guide us to the right outcome.’
‘The team’s expertise in the private placement market is second to none. They are consistently responsive and provide practical advice which is digestible by the commercial team and in-house team alike.‘
‘We work very closely with Scott Ashton. Scott is one of the most responsive external counsel I work with. He provides clear, coherent and practical advice and is always willing to be a sounding board as we work through issues and considerations.’
‘It is a clear UK market leader in the US private placement practice. They are heavily involved in evolving and updating the market standard documentations and also have a good understanding of how both investors and issuers are viewing the market and particular themes.’
‘Scott Ashton has exceptional knowledge of and competence in the market. In addition, he is a very likeable person. He is swift in drafting the documentation and he manages to communicate well not only with us as client, but also with the investors’ legal counsel. He is quick to come back to you when you have questions or comments, which is important when you are in the middle of a transaction.’
‘Brian Bates is authentic and trustworthy and he delivered excellent execution in a very tight timeframe. Brian’s unique style made him very enjoyable to work with.’
One Housing Group Limited
Tate & Lyle plc
F&C Investment Trust Plc
TenneT Holding B.V.
Metropolitan Housing Trust Ltd.
Northern Gas Networks Limited
Witan Investment Trust PLC
Safestore Holdings PLC
Network Homes Limited
IT and telecoms Tier 3
The ‘user-friendly and approachable’ group at Morrison & Foerster LLP provides a ‘depth and breadth of knowledge’ in the area and ‘maintains the highest level of professionalism’. The ‘true experts’ at the firm advise on inbound investments, outbound investments and procurement strategies across the UK, EU, US and Asian markets. Areas of expertise encompass AI, internet of things, big data, cloud computing and social media issues. Practice head Alistair Maughan focuses on commercial contracts and technology-based projects for companies and public sector organisations. Associate Mercedes Samavi is also active in the field and advises domestic and international clients on contract law, IP work, outsourcings and public procurement matters.
‘An exceptional knowledge of trends in the IT and telco sector and has worked on some significant early adopters of new and emerging technologies such as cloud, AI & Blockchain.’
‘Keep abreast of changes in the sector and they are able to bring insights into the transactions they work on with their clients.’
‘A very commercially focused and technically brilliant team.’
‘Quickly grasped complex agreements and worked quickly to deliver top quality documents.’
‘Sana Ashcroft was a pleasure to work with. Very good attention to detail and excellent quality of work.’
‘The whole organisation seems to be more approachable and friendly than many other firms that I have dealt with.’
‘I find them to be very personable and flexible, as well as being experts in their field.’
‘Whereas some other firms may place pro bono work lower down their priority list, MoFo’s team have never given us anything less than top class service.’
‘They are extremely talented lawyers, but remain incredibly personable and user-friendly.’
‘Alistair Maughan speaks and understand our business language, he immediately became part of the team.’
Morrison & Foerster LLP has 'superb knowledge and experience in negotiating highly complex and bespoke derivative instruments'. The London office works as part of an integrated global derivatives practice, which acts for numerous financial institutions in transactional and regulatory matters. Practice head Vladimir Maly specialises in derivatives and is also focused on the nascent area of derivatives focusing on blockchain, tokenisation of various financial products and ICOs. Jeremy Jennings-Mares handles structured securities such as equity-linked, credit-linked and fund-linked securities, OTC derivatives and receivables financings as part of a broad capital markets practice. Polly Ehrman, who joined from Latham & Watkins in early 2020, specialises in bespoke transaction structures, principally involving equity derivatives, in the context of M&A, emerging markets, margin lending and regulatory matters. Senior counsel Peter Green also plays a key role in structured credit, structured products and derivatives.
‘The firm has superb knowledge and experience in negotiating highly complex and bespoke derivative instruments and the corresponding confirmation documents.’
‘Not only did they have the requisite knowledge and experience to deal with our highly complex and bespoke derivative transaction, but they also demonstrated calmness in chaos, patience amid a series of iterations, and the flexibility to help us achieve our objectives. All of these qualities helped us cross the goal-line at the end.’
Bank of America Merrill Lynch
Fraud: civil Tier 4Morrison & Foerster LLP's team handles cross-border investigations and disputes, asset tracing and domestic fraud investigations and enforcement actions. 'Exceptional' partner Jonathan Wheeler has a wealth of experience in commercial litigation, international fraud, asset tracing and investigations. Associate Saqib Alam specialises in regulatory compliance, investigations, litigation and international arbitration, involving bribery, money laundering and various other areas of fraud. Partner Chiraag Shah joined the practice from Kirkland & Ellis International LLP in September 2019.
‘They have some real star players.’
‘Jonathan Wheeler is exceptional. One of the best lawyers in the business.’
‘MoFo punches far above its weight.’
Liquidators of Saad Investments Company Limited
Grant Thornton LLP: Bankruptcy of Muhamad Al-Ansari
Morrison & Foerster LLP has been ramping up its City white collar and corporate crime group. The team, which advises on high profile investigations by bodies such as the FCA and SFO has added Chiraag Shah from Kirkland & Ellis International LLP, and Gareth Rees QC and Hayley Ichilcik from King & Spalding LLP. Jonathan Wheeler heads the practice, which advises on matters involving allegations of financial crime corruption, bribergy, money laundering and contentious insolvencies. Kevin Roberts left for Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP.
Acquisition finance Tier 5
Morrison & Foerster LLP made a splash in the London finance market with the hire of the vastly experienced Christopher Kandel from Latham & Watkins. Kandel's arrival adds weight and expertise to a fledgling London practice which is beginning to make inroads into the banking, credit funds and private equity sponsor markets, in part due to the firm's ability to handle complex US/UK financing structures. Benoit Lavigne is also recommended.
Morrison & Foerster LLP has made quite a stir in the market - primarily within the leveraged finance space - by virtue of a number of high-profile hires over recent years, including Christopher Kandel 's arrival in February 2019 from Latham & Watkins. The range of finance work is broader than that, however, and includes a significant number of deals for investment grade corporates, which are appreciative of the firm's newly enhanced capabilities and ability to provide a holistic offering across US and UK-governed debt products and to seamlessly work with colleagues throughout the international network.
Morrison & Foerster LLP's litigation department has experience advising financial institutions, funds, and senior executives in banking disputes and excels in cross-border litigation. Practice head Jonathan Wheeler counts international fraud, asset tracing and contentious insolvency issues among his areas of specialism, while Gemma Anderson has particular contractual and financial disputes expertise. Other names to note include Gareth Rees QC and Hayley Ichilcik who joined from King & Spalding LLP , adding white-collar, contentious regulatory and financial crime expertise. Richard Jerman has experience in claims involving complex financial products.
The litigation team at Morrison & Foerster LLP is particularly strong for technology and finance disputes and counts manufacturing, retail and media among its other key sectors. The 'absolutely superb' Jonathan Wheeler leads the team which includes Gemma Anderson, who focuses on contractual and technology disputes and contentious insolvency matters, and Chiraag Shah , who joined from Kirkland & Ellis International LLP bringing a breadth of experience in commercial, fraud and corruption disputes, including in Africa. The group further bolstered its white-collar and contentious regulatory expertise with the additions of Gareth Rees QC and Hayley Ichilcik from King & Spalding LLP.
‘A relatively small litigation team, but with excellent credentials. The representation is partner-led, which is not always the case with larger firms.‘
‘Mofo is a great firm – very professional and well resourced. Dealing with them inspires great confidence that everything will be done properly.‘
‘They listen and work to understand the issues and problems before they give their thoughts and opinions. They understand practical business realities and work with the clients to incorporate those concerns into the analysis. They also understand the notion of budgets and apply resources accordingly.‘
‘Very strong indeed.‘
‘Jonathan Wheeler is an excellent lawyer to have on your team. He’s smart, commercial and gets right down into the trenches with the client and with the rest of his team. That’s what you need in tough, long-running litigation’
‘Laura Steen is an excellent practitioner with a great mix of intellect and people skills. Laura’s client communication is first-rate.’
‘Jonathan Wheeler is superb. He always has a deep understanding of his cases and maintains complete control of them. He is brilliant to work with. His technical and strategic contribution to any case is immense. Jonathan is a very tough litigator but a wise and considered player, at the same time.‘
Liquidators of Saad Investments Company Limited
Grant Thornton LLP as trustees in the bankruptcy of Muhamad Al-Ansari
International arbitration Tier 6
Morrison & Foerster LLP's strong growth trajectory is evidenced by the 2019 recruitment of former Kirkland & Ellis International LLP partner Chiraag Shah, who is a specialist in arbitrations involving state entities. The practice has significant expertise in Africa-related matters, as well as strong TMT sector experience. Jonathan Wheeler is disputes head, and Gemma Anderson focuses on technology, contractual, and contentious insolvency matters.
Other key lawyers:
‘A well rounded team with an up and coming reputation. They tend to be involved heavily at partner level in their cases, with support from a great set of junior lawyers.’
‘Chiraag Shah – A formidable partner with a growing reputation in the market.’
‘Chiraag Shah is an asset to the team and very knowledgeable. We have found the team as a whole to be friendly and above all efficient and effective in their work. They simply get the job done, no fuss.’
‘Chiraag Shah stands out for me. He has a calming influence and knows what he is talking about. We are very happy with the the service and have gone back to them again. We plan on doing so for any other matters we have. They have always be available and in fact, been the ones to chase and follow up rather than the client having to do so.’
Morrison & Foerster LLP > Firm Profile
With more than 1,000 lawyers in 16 offices, Morrison & Foerster is a leading global law firm dedicated to delivering business-oriented results to clients across the United States, Europe and Asia.
The firm: 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.
London office: the firm’s London office is at the heart of the network, offering access to UK- and US-qualified lawyers who advise on all aspects of mergers and acquisitions, including corporate, finance, securities, taxation and restructuring issues; funds; technology, intellectual property and commercial transactions; capital markets; and litigation, dispute resolution, employment and privacy law.
Types of work undertaken
Corporate: the London office’s corporate lawyers offer a broad and deep understanding of corporate transactions, including public and private mergers and acquisitions, equity and debt issues, private equity, funds and venture capital transactions, corporate reorganisations, demergers and general corporate counselling.
Mergers and acquisitions: the London team advises on national and cross-border M&A transactions, including on related financing, due diligence and regulatory issues, and is an acknowledged market leader in the TMT sector. The attorneys advise on squeeze-outs, corporate structuring and restructuring, foreign investments and acquisition financing, private equity and venture capital, and start-ups, including on related financing structures.
Funds: the London funds team represents fund sponsors and investors in the formation and operation of all types of private investment funds, including buyout, venture capital, growth, infrastructure, private debt, funds-of-funds, special situations, real estate, hedge funds, secondary transactions, sponsors and investors on co-investment opportunities, and complex fund restructuring situations.
Tax: the London office’s tax team advises on mergers and acquisitions, international corporate tax planning, tax-efficient domestic and cross-border financing structures, capital markets transactions, joint ventures and strategic alliances, private equity and venture capital formation, planning for IP-intensive companies, transfer pricing matters, outsourcing, employee equity participation and executive compensation, and matters relating to VAT, stamp duty and stamp duty reserve tax.
Technology transactions: the firm’s London lawyers are particularly recognised for their representation of technology providers and technology-enabled enterprises of all types in licensing, strategic partnering, outsourcing, e-commerce and new media, regulatory, contractual and other collaboration matters. The firm’s outsourcing group is a market-leading practice.
Litigation: the firm’s London litigators represent public and private sector clients in complex national and cross-border litigation of all types, including international fraud and asset tracing, international trust litigation and insolvency, regulatory compliance and corporate investigations, as well as alternative dispute resolution procedures. They also advise and represent clients in corporate and capital market lawsuits, in post-M&A disputes and commercial litigation.
Employment: the London office provides comprehensive advice on all areas of UK and international employment and data privacy law.
Capital markets and finance: MoFo’s London lawyers have experience and expertise in the traditional, but constantly changing, senior and secured lending market across all asset types, as well as advising investment banks, issuers, investors and other providers of financial services on national and international capital market transactions, initial public offerings and private placement of shares, equity- and debt-linked instruments, bonds and structured products, and trading of securities.
Business restructuring and insolvency: MoFo’s business restructuring and insolvency group in London is at the vanguard of the profession and handles, among other things, financial institution restructurings, cross-border insolvencies, distressed real estate, insolvencies involving key intellectual property, and hedge fund failures.
|Chair||Larren M Nashelsky|
|European managing partner||Paul Friedman|
|London managing partners||Alistair Maughan|
|London managing partners||Jonathan Wheeler|
Student (The Lex 100 )
The Lex 100 VerdictA 'renowned expertise in technology', the 'staff I met during the vacation scheme' and a 'growing London office' attracted trainees to Morrison & Foerster. 'Everyone here is very approachable – even management', remarked one recruit, a sentiment which was echoed throughout the feedback and has even earned the firm a Lex 100 Winner award in this category. MoFo's impressive salary nabbed the firm another award. 'The firm doesn't require its trainees to conform to one type of personality' and this appeased recruits who appreciate the encouragement to 'be who you really are' at work. Although training is less structured and the learning process 'very on the job', this makes for 'greater flexibility' and means that 'you can get as much as you want out of your training contract'. Thanks to smaller teams, trainees are also exposed to 'higher quality work' and feel that they are 'doing the jobs that a 2-3 year PQE would do at larger English firms'. 'Working directly with a partner on a matter and creating the central issues list' is an example. In short, trainees really do feel that they are 'more in the loop about things'. The downsides of such responsibility are 'periods of consistently late hours', and instances of 'sending out documents to a client in the early hours of the morning knowing I'd have to be back in around five hours for closing'! Other concerns were that the 'culture can be different in different teams' and that the firm's growth has led to 'some uncertainty for trainees'. But for 'great clientele', a 'focus on the tech sector' and friendly colleagues, apply to Morrison & Foerster.
Top Tier Firm Rankings
- Debt capital markets
- IT and telecoms
- Derivatives and structured products
- Fraud: civil
- Regulatory investigations and corporate crime (advice to corporates)
- Acquisition finance
- Bank lending: investment grade debt and syndicated loans
- Banking litigation: investment and retail
- Commercial litigation: premium
- International arbitration
- M&A: upper mid-market and premium deals, £500m+