Survey Results - Trainee feedback on Morrison Foerster (UK) LLP
The lowdown - Trainees (in their own words) on Morrison Foerster (UK) LLP
Why did you choose this firm over any other? ‘Impressive client list’, ‘small trainee intake’, ‘it is a very friendly place to work’, ‘the nature and variety of the work it undertakes’, ‘market-leading work with some of best lawyers in the City’, ‘the firm’s reputation for cutting-edge and cross-border tech work’, ‘great culture and also great remuneration’, ‘I liked the small intakes, exceptional work in the technology sector and culture of the firm’
What is the best thing about the firm? ‘Fantastic culture’, ‘great remuneration’, ‘openness and friendliness of colleagues and other trainees, especially in comparison to other places in the City’, ‘everyone is approachable and willing to talk about topics candidly’, ‘everyone is so friendly and approachable’, ‘the opportunities to work closely with senior associates and partners’, ‘the firm rightly prides itself on its people’, ‘the commitment to pro bono work’
What is the worst thing about the firm? ‘Work/life balance’, ‘potentially bad workstream management in certain high-pressured departments, like in corporate M&A’, ‘sometimes feels like teams are too lean – could do with a few more associates’, ‘the hours can occasionally be long’, ‘as we’re a growing firm, the deal flow can be erratic in some transactional seats’, ‘the document management system’, ‘the unpredictability of when you will be given work’
What has been the best moment of your training to date? ‘Receiving positive feedback directly from partners’, ‘drafting witness statements and supplementary submissions in two separate international arbitrations’, ‘working closely with a partner whilst preparing for a meeting with a client’, ‘taking the lead on negotiating comments on a call with an associate and a trainee from another firm’, ‘the trainees make an effort to organise regular socials which have been very fun’, ‘running a pro bono litigation matter myself’
What has been the worst moment of your training to date? ‘Interrupted holidays/weekends’, ‘starting my TC remotely during the pandemic and making simple, avoidable mistakes due to not being able to ask my supervisor in the office’, ‘being in a quiet team that didn’t have much work’, ‘having to work very long hours to meet a very tight deadline’, ‘government guidance to work from home at end of 2021’, ‘some late nights’
The Legal 500 Future Lawyers verdict on Morrison Foerster (UK) LLP
Morrison Foerster (commonly known as ‘MoFo’) was chosen for its ‘small trainee intake’, ‘cutting-edge, cross-border tech work,’ and ‘relaxed, inclusive culture’. The US firm boasts ‘some of the best lawyers in the City’, ‘market-leading work’ and a ‘commitment to pro bono’. Trainees get ‘a lot of responsibility and meaningful work’ and love the fact that ‘being in a particular seat does not mean that you exclusively work for one department’. Many recruits highlighted ‘the people’ as the best thing about MoFo: ‘everyone is approachable and willing to talk about topics candidly’. Colleagues are ‘open and friendly, including the other trainees’. The firm is a Future Lawyers Winner for its impressive salary. As is common in small cohorts where high levels of responsibility are the norm, MoFo trainees have experienced their fair share of ‘long hours’. Recruits are frustrated with ‘the unpredictability of when you will be given work’, which means that they sometimes ‘have to work late at short notice’. Thankfully, trainees receive plenty of support from supervisors to help them along, and ‘positive feedback received directly from partners’ featured in the best moments of more than one respondent. Other highlights included ‘drafting witness statements and supplementary submissions in two separate international arbitrations’ and ‘helping advise on and document the debt facilities that funded the acquisition of the publicly-held shares of two European energy companies’. For a US-headquartered global firm with an outstanding technology specialism, MoFo is well worth considering.
A day in the life of... Emily Duffy, trainee, Morrison Foerster
Departments to date: Litigation; Corporate M&A
University: University of Bristol University of Law
Degree: Law LLB (2.1); Commercial Law LLM (Merit); LPC (Distinction)
9.00am: I arrive at The Scalpel, grab a coffee from the kitchen and say hello to my team. I enjoy the flexibility of hybrid working, and being in the office on a regular basis has been great for working with colleagues, particularly gaining exposure to partners and learning ‘through osmosis’ while sharing an office with my supervisor. Once at my desk, I check my emails and create a to-do list for the day.
9.30am: MoFo partners with Zacchaeus 2000 Trust, a non-profit charity which helps clients navigate the social security and welfare benefits system in the UK. I have recently taken on a client, pro bono, to appeal the decision in her Universal Credit application. I arrange an interview with my client so that we can run through questions I have drafted relating to her appeal, and I spend some time reading through the previous submissions made.
10.30am: Today is the corporate department’s group meeting, so I join my team in one of our meeting rooms. These are a great opportunity to learn about the matters being worked on across the team and receive training on relevant topics. One of the partners begins the meeting with some firm updates, and this week an associate and a partner are presenting a training session on the execution of documents, which is a helpful refresher on the formality requirements for different types of documents and legal personalities.
11.30am: Another trainee in my department is transferring to our Singapore office on secondment in the coming weeks, so we meet to discuss a matter I am taking over from her. The matter is a large corporate restructuring and I’ll be responsible for co-ordinating the transfer of ten subsidiaries to a newly formed entity. She fills me in on the background to the transaction and updates me on the current status of the different workstreams involved and next steps. After our meeting, I spend some time working through the most recent transaction documents to familiarise myself with the restructuring process.
12.15pm: I head up to our client floor as Susan Mac Cormac, corporate partner in our San Francisco office and chair of our ESG, social enterprise and impact investing, and energy practices, is hosting an internal Q&A session. Once named ‘Most Innovative Lawyer in North America’ by the Financial Times, it was fascinating to hear her speak about her career and legal trend predictions. Lunch is often provided in the office and today it’s a fresh salad bar (previous highlights include a sushi pop-up and fresh bagels).
1.30pm: I grab another coffee and look at my to-do list for the afternoon. I have been working on a share buyback and receive notification from Companies House that the capital reduction documentation I filed yesterday has been registered. We can now proceed with the share buyback, so I email the client to inform them and give an overview of the next steps to be taken. I draft some further emails to the client and HMRC in relation to the stamp duty payable on completion of the buyback agreement.
3.00pm: One of our of counsel returns comments on a deed of termination I drafted with an associate, so I review and update the document checklist for the transaction.
4.00pm: I am given a few tasks by associates in the team, including running insolvency searches on an entity, and proofreading a shareholders’ agreement. I spend a couple of hours finishing my to-do list for the day.
6.00pm: We have a weekly catch-up call with the purchaser of an entity our client is selling, so I dial in and take notes.
6.45pm: I check in with my team to see if there is anything else I can assist with today. I am told to enjoy my evening, so I close down my time for the day and head off to meet some friends for dinner.
About the firm
The firm: Morrison Foerster is a leading global firm with over 1,000 lawyers in key technology and finance centres in the US, Europe and Asia. In Europe, the firm has a team of around 135 lawyers in its strategic hubs of London, Berlin and Brussels.
The clients: SoftBank Group Corp.; Ares Management; Infobip Ltd; Tate & Lyle PLC; Cambridge Quantum; BlackRock; Patron Capital Partners; MARK; Starwood Capital.
The deals: Advised SoftBank Group on its proposed $65bn sale of UK-headquartered multinational semiconductor design company Arm to US chip company NVIDIA; advising in connection with a take-private debt financing for Morrisons by a consortium led by Fortress – one of the two major offers ($6.7bn) in the bidding war for the UK supermarket chain, backed by Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and Koch Real Estate Investments; representing a client in its defence of a high-profile representative action brought in the English High Court; advising UK-headquartered Cambridge Quantum on its high-profile combination with Honeywell Quantum Solutions, including a $300m capital raise as part of the merger, creating the largest and most advanced integrated quantum computing company in the world, Quantinuum, setting the pace for what is projected to become a $1tn quantum computing industry over the next three decades; advising SoftBank Group Corp. in connection with its US$2.8bn acquisition of a 40% stake in advanced robotics company AutoStore; representing the official committee of unsecured creditors of Valaris Plc and its affiliated debtors in their chapter 11 cases and parallel UK administration proceeding – Valaris is a leading provider of offshore drilling services to the international oil and gas industry which in its first-day filings listed total assets of approximately US$13bn and total debts of approximately US$7.85bn; advising nine established financial institutions in relation to a £590m corporate revolving facilities agreement made available to Entain PLC, a global gaming business owning brands including Ladbrokes Coral and Sportingbet, and advising three leading financial institutions as mandated lead arrangers in connection with a US$1.125bn financing for Entain PLC for the purpose of refinancing certain of its existing indebtedness and general corporate and acquisition purposes; advising a large global financial institution and its subsidiaries in connection with criminal investigations and civil proceedings within multiple European jurisdictions; advising BlackRock on its investment in Pine Labs, one of Asia’s leading merchant commerce platforms, with this round reportedly ascribing a $3.5bn valuation to Pine Labs, ahead of a contemplated public listing; advising SoftBank Vision Fund 2 as lead investor in a $250m funding round in Zeta, a banking tech startup providing modern credit and debit processing, Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL), core banking, and mobile experiences; advising Trinity Investment Management, an operator, developer and manager of life sciences real estate, in connection with the launch, together with Harrison Street, an investment management firm exclusively focused on alternative real assets, of a new vertically integrated investment and operational company, combining real estate asset management with direct support for pioneering life sciences businesses; advising Infobip, a global communications platform as a service leader with headquarters in London, on its acquisition of SMS firewall service provider Anam Technologies; advising SoftBank on the $600m sale of its majority stake in SB Energy India, a renewable assets joint venture between SoftBank and Bharti Group, to Adani Green Energy Limited, an India-based renewable energy company owned, the largest M&A transaction in the renewable energy sector in India; advising a global financial institution in an internal investigation relating to allegations of fraud, bribery and blackmail; advised Patron Capital Partners on its programmatic joint venture in the student accommodation sector with Curation Capital, an investor in and manager of student accommodation, co-living, private residential, and flexible office space, completed simultaneously with the joint venture’s acquisition of Beech Gardens, a 250-bed development in Birmingham, which is the first in a series of proposed projects proposed under the parties’ new business plan; advised MARK on the financing of a pan-European residential platform, including the initial financing by way of senior and mezzanine facilities of a seed portfolio of properties in the Netherlands; advising Starwood Capital Europe Advisers on its investment in concrete ventures €100m fund.
Europe managing partner: Paul Friedman
London co-managing partners: Andrew Boyd and Annabel Gillham
Other offices: Austin, Beijing, Berlin, Boston, Brussels, Denver, Hong Kong, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Palo Alto, San Diego, San Francisco, Shanghai, Singapore, Tokyo, Washington, DC.
Who we are: Morrison Foerster (MoFo) is a leading global firm, with over 1,000 lawyers in key technology and finance centres in the US, Europe and Asia. MoFo transforms complexity into advantage. With our collective intelligence, we shape powerful legal strategies that move businesses forward while living shared values.
What we do: Bankruptcy and restructuring, capital markets, competition/antitrust and national security, corporate/M&A, data privacy, employment, equity derivatives, financial services regulation, financial transactions, high-yield, investigations, disputes, arbitration, private equity real estate, real estate finance, outsourcing, tax and technology transactions.
What we’re looking for: We are looking for dynamic and driven individuals who can display a genuine enthusiasm for a career in law and interest in our core London practices. At MoFo, we couldn’t write our own success story without yours. We collaborate as one firm across borders, practice areas and business functions, and value fresh ideas and innovation over conformity and competition.
What you’ll do: Trainees are given the support, training and development opportunities required to excel and thrive in their work, from trainee induction sessions, regular training via our MoFo Academy and relevant associations, significant daily responsibility and contributions to our culture. This combination enables our trainees to develop the necessary skills to deliver exceptional client service on complex global matters and understand the business of law. The training period consists of four six-month seats, with the potential of seats in our Singapore and Brussels offices. There is an active mentorship programme, a formal review process four times annually and career development workshops to provide continuous support and development.
Dynamic technology and life sciences companies, some of the largest financial investors and financial institutions, leading consumer product companies, and other market leaders come to MoFo for our expertise, knowledge, advice and individually tailored client service. We handle some of the world’s largest cross-border transactions and resolve some of the biggest disputes across multiple jurisdictions. Our firm was built on, and continues to succeed, because of the talent of our lawyers and their innovative approach in the practice of law. We practise in a collegial environment where we value teamwork, diverse perspectives and employee wellbeing. As our nickname MoFo suggests, we take our work seriously but we don’t take ourselves too seriously.
Perks: 25 days’ holiday; pension; private medical insurance; dental plan; group life assurance; group income protection; employee assistance programme; free Calm app subscription; Talkspace access; subsidised gym membership; back-up dependents care; season ticket loan; cycle scheme; lifestyle coaching.
Sponsorship: Morrison Foerster are pleased to confirm that we are partnering with the University of Law to deliver the SQE programme for those who need to complete it. We will offer non-law students the opportunity to complete the PgDL with the University of Law and include the SQE+ programme for all SQE students to offer a complete and well-rounded introduction to the practice and business of law for our future trainees. Intentionally chosen for the breadth and depth of teaching expertise, understanding of our key practice areas and wider industry and sector developments, the collaboration between Morrison Foerster and University of Law ensures that all future trainees are prepared for their exciting legal journey ahead. Full course and exam fees will be covered for future MoFo trainees sitting the LPC or SQE as well as a maintenance grant to assist with living costs.
Diversity and inclusion
Morrison Foerster is a place where you can be your personal and professional best; belonging and inclusion is at the heart of everything we do, a core value of our culture and our ethos. We are a truly international firm with a global Diversity + Inclusion strategy with specific focuses in each region, reflective of our people and the communities we serve.
Find out more by visiting our Diversity page, speaking with our attorneys or reaching out to our European Director of Attorney Learning & Development, Usha Puri-Dewage.
Diversity in action
For over 40 years, MoFo has been committed to creating a culture that respects and celebrates differences, while providing an inclusive environment where everyone’s contributions are valued. It is essential to who we are as a firm. By each bringing our diverse experiences to work, we strengthen the quality of the service that we provide to our clients, the legal profession and our communities. We’ve been a long-time champion for diversity within the legal profession and take pride in our diverse workplace. We believe that lawyers with different backgrounds, interests and experiences working together arrive at better answers and offer fresher perspectives. We continuously work to attract, develop and retain talented lawyers from diverse backgrounds. Our London attorneys Brian Bates and Trevor James sit on the firmwide diversity strategy committee, founded in 2003, the primary mission of which is to recommend major diversity goals and objectives to our board of directors. We also have a number of active London affinity groups.
Globally, MoFo has over 35 affinity groups that provide support networks and programming for various employee groups. In the London office specifically, we have affinity groups for LGBTQ+ members of the office, for women, and MoFo Together, which focuses on raising awareness and addressing some of the barriers facing ethnic minorities in the legal profession and beyond.
Our senior women lawyers in London also play a role in the firm’s global Women’s Strategy Committee, which works closely with firm leadership, including the firm’s chair, firmwide managing partners and board of directors, to ensure that the advancement of women is a constant strategic priority.
MoFo London’s active LGBTQ+ affinity group, MoFo Proud, brings together members of that community as well as its supporters. The LGBTQ+ affinity group provides a forum to discuss issues of concern to the LGBTQ+ community and works to advance networking opportunities within the London office and the broader firm, with clients and across the broader London business community. We’re proud that our chair emeritus was the first openly gay managing partner of an international law firm.
Pro bono at MoFo
At Morrison Foerster, pro bono work is part of our DNA. Our dedicated pro bono team and our London pro bono committee provide frequent opportunities for London trainees and associates to work on both domestic and international matters, ranging from providing direct services to low-income individuals, to counseling nonprofit organisations, to advising at law clinics. Lawyers in our London office partner with a variety of organisations on pro bono projects, including Z2K (Zacchaeus 2000 Trust), The Chancery Lane Project, The Center for Reproductive Rights, The Nature Conservancy, Prime Advocates, Public International Policy Group, Advocates for International Development, and Asylum Aid.
The London office is a member of the Collaborative Plan for Pro Bono in the UK, a law firm-led initiative to promote pro bono work, in which members commit to strive for an average of 25 pro bono hours per attorney in their UK offices. Last year, our lawyers from London average over 51 pro bono hours per attorney. Examples of work our London-based lawyers have undertaken include:
- Supporting the Kenya office of the Center for Reproductive Rights in a variety of ways with work that the organisation is doing to advance reproductive rights and maternal health in Kenya. This has included drafting an amicus brief on an important case at NY-2414700 the High Court of Kenya on behalf of an adolescent who died after suffering from complications from an unsafe abortion. The case resulted in a landmark ruling issued by the High Court of Kenya, which strengthens access to safe abortion in Kenya, where, on average, seven women and girls die from unsafe abortions every day.
- Collaborating with Z2K, a London-wide charity working to combat poverty. Since the partnership started three and a half years ago, MoFo have supported individual clients with physical and mental health conditions to appeal disability benefit decisions at tribunal level. Since the partnership began, trainees, paralegals, associates, counsel and partners from every practice group in the London office have taken on 76 individual cases, with a success rate of over 90% for those cases that have gone to hearing.
- Representing Social Finance, finance and tax lawyers in our London office structured a development impact bond focused on improving infant mortality in developing countries.
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