Survey Results - Trainee feedback on Morrison Foerster
The lowdown - Trainees (in their own words) on Morrison Foerster
Why did you choose this firm over any others? ‘The quality of the work and the small annual intakes, meaning each trainee receives great training and lots of exposure to various deals’, ‘a solid commitment to diversity and inclusion and pro bono initiatives’, ‘its reputation in the banking tech sector, as demonstrated by its long-standing relationship with SoftBank. MoFo London is also a rapidly expanding office, so I was excited to be a part of that growth’, ‘it’s a US firm offering impressive salaries’
Best thing about the firm? ‘MoFo has incredible lawyers with a great sense of understanding that the workplace can also be an enjoyable place to be a part of’, ‘both attorneys and staff here are generally approachable, friendly and well-adjusted people. Partners expect you to get your head down and work hard (and you will be worked hard), but also recognise there is a life outside of our four walls’, ‘more senior members of the firm adopt an ‘open-door’ policy, which encourages organic mentorship opportunities’
Worst thing about the firm? ‘The workload can be overwhelming’, ‘we have a social committee which puts in absolutely Herculean efforts to get people together, but the shift to a higher hours target has meant that people don’t always attend, preferring to focus on work. There is rarely an impromptu after-work drink’, ‘the long hours can be draining at times’, ‘I would love more international secondments, but this is an area the firm is growing in, for example there is a new opportunity in Brussels’
Best moment? ‘Playing a key role in project managing a complex transaction – it was great to be given so much responsibility so early in my career and was a fantastic experience’, ‘working alongside a senior partner in a team of two to close an M&A transaction’, ‘receiving fantastic mid and end-of-seat feedback from my first seat, providing me with added reassurance that I’m performing at a high level’, ‘all attorneys went on a trip to Dubrovnik to encourage MoFo lawyers across Europe to connect and get to know one another, the trip also welcomed our new firm chair, Eric McCrath’
Worst moment? ‘The hours have been very long at times, and there have been some weeks and weekends of non-stop work which has been taxing’, ‘when I didn’t understand the overall transaction I was involved in, leading me to make easily avoidable errors’, ‘the hours can be consistently heavy in most departments, which is something you should be aware of when applying to almost any American firm’
The Legal 500 Future Lawyers verdict on Morrison Foerster
‘Tech-focused clientele, market-leading practices, amazing offices, great pay and exposure to senior lawyers’ were but some of the reasons trainees applied to MoFo. The ‘genuine friendliness of the firm during the interview process and vacation scheme’, which has also ‘borne out during the training contract’ also enticed recruits. MoFo has amassed five Future Lawyers Winner medals this year, with quality of work and supervisor approachability among the harvest. The US firm also won plaudits thanks to its ‘culture which prioritises diversity and inclusion, as well as pro bono’. MoFo has a ‘great work environment and everyone is friendly and approachable. I feel as comfortable approaching a partner with a query as I would a junior associate’. Although the hours can be ‘longer than for trainees at non-US firms’, most recruits are of the opinion that ‘access to really interesting and challenging work make up for this’. That’s not to say that the late nights are enjoyable; trainees lamented ‘doing document review at weekends’ and, simply, ‘not being able to make any plans on weekdays’. Respondents would also like to see the international secondment opportunities bolstered. Whilst training is generally more on the job at MoFo, trainees appreciated the ‘recent efforts to integrate a mix of departmental and external training’, such as that provided by the ‘MoFo Academy’. Best moments included ‘working closely with a senior partner and counsel on an extradition case’, ‘onboarding my own pro bono client’, and ‘a trip to Dubrovnik to encourage MoFo lawyers across Europe to connect and get to know one another’. For a firm with a ‘global reputation in the tech sector’ where ‘diversity and inclusion are taken really seriously’ and ‘people genuinely appreciate your time and effort’, research MoFo.
A day in the life of... Jacqueline Lee, trainee solicitor, Morrison Foerster
Departments to date: Corporate M&A; Litigation
University: London School of Economics University of Law
Degree: Law LLB (1st); LPC (Distinction)
9.30am: Today is a core day and I arrive at The Scalpel, grab a coffee from the kitchen, and say hello to my team. I enjoy hybrid working and look forward to in-office days, not only to hear from the team in our weekly meetings and attend training sessions but also to gain exposure to partners and, of course, see my fellow trainees. Once at my desk, I check my emails and calendar and create a to-do list for the day.
10.00am: I join a daily morning team call on one of the matters I am working on. We have these calls twice a day, at 10.00am and 5.00pm. We have a daily agenda, and everyone provides their upcoming deadlines for the day and progress on the various tasks. These daily morning calls keep me updated on the different workstreams available, which allows me to jump in and assist associates where appropriate.
10.30am: I begin one of today’s main tasks, which is completing a review and coding of documents for a disclosure exercise. A few questions arise while I am completing the review and I reach out to the relevant associate to clarify these points and talk through the advice.
11.30am: Today is the litigation department’s group meeting, so I join my team in one of our meeting rooms with views of the city. These meetings 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’s training session is on without prejudice communications in the context of commercial litigation.
1.00pm: I head up to our client floor for corporate M&A training. The learning and development team at the firm organises corporate M&A training for first-year trainees throughout the year. This week’s training session is on US- versus UK-style share purchase agreements. As I have already completed a rotation on the corporate team, this training is a helpful reminder of the skills and knowledge I acquired during my corporate seat that I can take forward in my career as a lawyer.
2.30pm: I grab another coffee and look at my to-do list for the afternoon. I have been working on a pro bono project which requires me to produce summaries of recent class action cases in the UK, which is a workstream I manage with another trainee. I contact research services at the firm and set up a call to discuss the best way to proceed with the task. I then review two of the cases and produce summaries for the associate I am working with. We agree to meet later in the week to review the cases together.
4.00pm: I receive a new witness statement in relation to one of the cases I am working on. I review the witness statement, highlight any key points that are mentioned, and produce a summary to be forwarded onto the team working on the matter.
5.00pm: I join the daily afternoon team call on one of the matters I am working on. Everyone gives an update on the progress of the workstream that was set out this morning. These afternoon calls allow us to see how much progress has been made throughout the day, and they promote efficient resourcing of people to workstreams that need the most assistance.
6.00pm: I attend a webinar about recent updates to sanctions legislation in the UK. I dial in and take notes. I then produce an executive summary of the notes and forward both the call notes and the summary onto the relevant associate and partner.
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 a trainee social this evening. Today, we have organised a mini golf social to meet the incoming cohort of trainees at Puttshack, which is a good way to get to know the new trainees in an informal way.
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 150 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: Advising a core participant in connection with the Post Office Horizon IT inquiry and related matters arising out of the High Court’s decision in the Bates v Post Office group litigation; advising SoftBank Group Corp. on the proposed US$65bn sale of UK-headquartered multinational semiconductor and software design company Arm Limited to US chip company NVIDIA and in connection with related carve-outs, including most recently the sale of the Pelion ‘Internet of Things’ business formerly owned by Arm to Scottish Equity Partners as well as acting for SoftBank Group Corp. in a limited recourse margin loan secured by its 75.01% stake in Arm Limited – the transaction initially closed at US$8bn and was then later upsized to US$8.5bn (we believe this is the largest ever margin loan on shares of a private (unlisted) company); advising eBay, one of the world’s largest e-commerce marketplaces, in relation to the corporate, tax and data privacy elements of its acquisition of KnownOrigin, a leading non-fungible token marketplace; acting for a multinational investment company in relation to a pending claim in the English High Court by a global investment bank for approximately US$500m relating to the administration of Greensill Capital; advised Tate & Lyle PLC, a leading global provider of food and beverage ingredients and solutions, in connection with its acquisition of Quantum Hi-Tech (Guangdong) Biological Co., Ltd, a leading prebiotic dietary fibre business in China, from ChemPartner PharmaTech Co., Ltd; representing a publicly listed Japanese company in a complex cross-border dispute (Germany, Italy) with a former reseller, which is seeking damages against our client in excess of €140m, alleging among other things breaches of various contracts and competition abuses; advised Starwood Capital Europe Advisers LLP, a private investment firm with a core focus on global real estate and renewable energy infrastructure, on its investment in Concrete VC I LP, a proptech-focused venture capital fund launched by investment platform Concrete Ventures; advised Imerys, the French-listed world leader in mineral-based speciality solutions, on its joint venture with British Lithium to accelerate development of the UK’s largest lithium deposit – Imerys acquired an 80% stake in the joint venture, with British Lithium holding the remaining 20% stake (the joint venture will result in the UK’s first integrated producer of battery-grade lithium carbonate, with production targets that could supply 500,000 electric cars per year and fulfil two-thirds of Britain’s anticipated battery demand by 2030); advising DCC plc, a leading international sales, marketing and support services group and constituent of the FTSE 100, on its private placement of fixed and floating rate senior notes equivalent to $725m; advised on a US$300m financing round by existing investors in Quantinuum, which is the combined business of Honeywell Quantum and Cambridge Quantum, and the world’s leading integrated quantum computing company (Morrison Foerster also advised on the original combination of Honeywell Quantum and Cambridge Quantum in 2021); represented Yara International ASA, a global leader in the production, distribution and sale of nitrogen-based fertilisers and related industrial products, in connection with its successful debut green bond offering of US$600m 7.378% Green Notes due in 2032; advised Heidrick & Struggles International Inc. on its acquisition of Business 3.0 Limited, trading as businessfourzero – the Nasdaq-listed Heidrick & Struggles, a premier provider of executive search, corporate culture, and leadership consulting services, acquired businessfourzero, a London-based business consulting services company; successfully advising one of the holding companies in the Louwman Group on a claim brought by claimant Maranello Rosso, which was seeking approximately £70m in damages; advised Ally Bridge Group in connection with the €135m total PIPE investment in Odyssey Acquisition, a Euronext Amsterdam-listed SPAC, for its merger with BenevolentAI, a leading UK-based clinical-stage AI drug discovery company – apart from Ally Bridge Group, the other PIPE investors included Temasek, BenevolentAI’s strategic partner AstraZeneca, Invus, and several other institutional investors (when announced in December 2021, this was the largest European de-SPAC merger, valued at €1.5bn, and one of the largest Euronext Amsterdam biotech listings).
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, financial transactions, high-yield, intellectual property, 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: Our approach at Morrison Foerster enables trainees to start strong in their legal careers, with an induction that is carefully crafted to enhance professional and practical skills developed during formal education. This equips trainees with the essential tools to meet the needs of our colleagues across the firm and clients. Trainees have access to a variety of mentors to guide them through new experiences, and ongoing learning and development opportunities required to underpin their legal skills, from the initial trainee orientation sessions, regular skills-based training, significant daily responsibility and autonomy, and contributions to our culture and future of the firm. This combined approach stretches trainees to develop the core skills and behaviours and understand the business of law to deliver exceptional client service on complex global matters.
The training period consists of four six-month seats, with the potential to complete overseas secondments in our Singapore and Brussels offices or with our clients. Seat options are subject to business and client needs at the time of the rotations and trainees are invited to identify particular areas of interest during seat allocation discussions.
During your training contract, you’ll have the opportunity to work in at least three distinct areas of law. Corporate M&A and litigation and dispute resolution are two of our core areas of practice in London, but there’s also a wide range of specialised practice areas to get involved in. These include: data privacy, employment, finance and banking, intellectual property, tax, technology transactions and more! Trainees have numerous opportunities to work with colleagues across the firm on both matters and pro bono projects.
Partners and associates at the firm are committed to supporting trainees to succeed, so you will receive plenty of formal and informal support including a trainee buddy (a second-year trainee), trainee supervisor (for each of the four seats) and trainee liaison. Your liaison will be a senior associate who will act as your mentor throughout the training contract, helping you to identify strengths, areas for development and stretch opportunities, and offer personalised career guidance. There is an active mentoring programme, a formal evaluation and feedback process every quarter and career development workshops tailored to individual needs and interests. Trainees also have access to our health and wellbeing resources, such as a free subscription to the Calm and Walking on Earth (Wone) apps, and a wealth of online information on our portal. In addition to the above, the attorney talent and trainee leadership team are a constant source of resources, guidance and support.
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; WONE app subscription; Talkspace access; subsidised gym membership; back-up dependents care; season ticket loan; cycle scheme; lifestyle coaching.
Sponsorship: Morrison Foerster is partnered with the University of Law to deliver the SQE preparation programmes.
We will sponsor future MoFo trainees who are completing non-law subjects through the PgDL with the University of Law and offer the SQE+ programme (in addition to SQE 1 and 2 preparation programmes) for all future MoFo trainees completing the SQE route.
Intentionally chosen for the breadth and depth of teaching expertise, understanding of our key practice areas, and wider industry and sector developments, the collaboration ensures that all future trainees have the essential knowledge and commercial awareness for the next steps of their legal career with the firm and provide our future trainees with a well-rounded introduction to the practice and business of law. For future trainees being sponsored through the PgDL or SQE by MoFo, full course and exam fees will be covered by the firm as well as a £15,000 maintenance grant for the PgDL and £17,000 maintenance grant for SQE to assist with living costs during study.
Diversity, inclusion and wellbeing
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 an international firm with a global diversity and inclusion strategy that is tailored to regional and local needs, while maintaining a one-firm approach, reflective of our people and the communities we serve.
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 work together to create better solutions and offer innovative perspectives for our clients. We continuously work to attract, develop and retain talented lawyers from all backgrounds.
Our London attorneys Brian Bates (senior counsel) and Trevor James (partner) sit on the firmwide diversity strategy committee, founded in 2003. The primary mission of this is to recommend major diversity goals and objectives to our board of directors. We also have a number of active London affinity groups that collaborate with regional and global colleagues to deliver initiatives that are important to us.
Affinity groups: Globally, MoFo has over 30 affinity groups that provide support networks and programming for various employee groups. In the London office specifically, we have affinity groups for members and allies of LGBTQ+, for women, and MoFo Together, which focuses on raising awareness and addressing some of the barriers facing underrepresented communities in the legal profession and beyond.
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.
MoFo Together aims to address the barriers facing underrepresented communities (including ethnic minorities) by raising awareness and providing dedicated support to help every individual at Morrison Foerster live their potential. Valuing, respecting and celebrating cultural differences are fundamental to growing and sustaining a diverse workforce and improving the experience of underrepresented groups, and looking at the role that each MoFo colleague has as allies to support. MoFo Together seeks to do this, and more, by spearheading initiatives to create an inclusive workplace for all through four pillars of inclusion, education, empowerment and representation.
MoFo Women regularly holds events addressing global topics and regional ones with a packed agenda of programmes for women and allies. Based on the four pillars, their strategic approach ensures that topics facing women in the profession now and in the future are explored and openly discussed to enhance the support needed and available. 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.
Percentage of female associates: 53%
Percentage of female partners: 25%
Percentage of BAME associates: 31%
Percentage of BAME partners: 18%
Pro bono at MoFo
A story of doing good: An essential part of the MoFo difference is our tradition of service in the public interest. We use our talents in a range of pro bono activities, from staffing legal service clinics, to counseling more than 300 non-profit organisations, to handling high-impact litigation. We approach pro bono work the same as our billable work – with passion, dedication, and an exacting standard of service – simply because that’s who we are.
MoFo attorneys are deeply committed to pro bono work: 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 attorneys and trainees to work on both domestic and international matters, ranging from providing direct services to low-income individuals, to counseling non-profit organisations, to advising at law clinics.
Attorneys in our London office partner with a variety of organisations on pro bono projects, such as Advocates for International Development, TrustLaw, JUSTICE, PILnet, Asylum Aid, Zacchaeus 2000 Trust (Z2K), The Chancery Lane Project, the Centre for Reproductive Rights, the Nature Conservancy, Prime Advocates, Not Beyond Redemption, Human Rights Watch, the Public International Law & Policy Group, and APPEAL (Centre for Criminal Appeals).
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, per year in their UK offices. Last year, our lawyers from London averaged over 69 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 to assist it in its mission of advancing reproductive rights and maternal health in Kenya. This has included drafting an amicus brief on an important case at 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 that strengthens access to safe abortion in Kenya, where, on average, seven women and girls die from unsafe abortions every day.
- Collaborating on disability benefit appeals with Z2K, a London-wide charity working to combat poverty. Since the partnership began in early 2018, numerous members of the London office — including partners, associates, trainees and paralegals — have worked on cases for low-income, disabled clients who were receiving disability benefits that were inadequate to cover their needs. To date, we have taken on 93 individual cases, with a success rate of over 90% for those cases that have gone to hearing.
- Advising Social Finance, a non-profit organisation that partners with the government, the social sector and the financial community to find better ways to tackle social problems. MoFo has worked with Social Finance on various projects, including structuring a development impact bond focused on decreasing infant mortality in Cameroon.
- Working with Not Beyond Redemption to help mothers who are in prison, or who have left prison, and need legal assistance to maintain their relationships with their children.
- Assisting APPEAL, a charity and law practice that fights miscarriages of justice and advocates for reform of the criminal justice system, in overturning the life sentence of an individual who was wrongfully convicted.
MoFo seeks to be a workplace that supports mental health and well-being. Over the last few years, we have taken steps to integrate mental health as a firmwide priority. MoFo has invested in training, resources, professional development and benefits to support workplace mental health but recognises that this is a journey that will need continued focus and action. As we look ahead to the future, we are committed to promoting a culture across MoFo that fosters everyone’s inclusion and wellbeing; we know this is imperative to a successful career in the profession.
The firm’s mental health steering committee provides resources, sponsors training and develops communications designed to encourage adoption of best practices for a mentally healthy workplace across the firm.
In addition, we have a partnership with Marquee Health, which provides all MoFo employees with access to a health coach and reflects our firm’s belief that health needs to be based on a balance of physical, financial and mental wellbeing. We’ve partnered with Marquee Health and Virgin Pulse to run inter-office challenges which encourage and promote wellbeing, including exercise, nutrition and mindfulness. Colleagues, including trainees, also have access to Talkspace and online counselling at the touch of a button.
We also have benefits such as our employee assistance programme, which provides confidential emotional support, legal guidance, financial information and support (which includes virtual and on-demand). We have dedicated wellness spaces in our office, which colleagues can utilise whenever they need them, as well as access to our wellness portal and Calm app. Colleagues can also access the Walking on Earth (WONE) app which tailors recommendations to meet individual needs across mental fitness, physical activity and nutritional health.
Trainees also have the direct support of their assigned supervisor, liaison (who supports them for the full two years of their training contract) and second-year trainee buddy. As well as this, trainees have regular catchups with members of the attorney talent team and trainee leadership team to discuss any concerns, both professional and personal, or simply for exploratory conversations through coaching.
At MoFo, we recognise that each individual approaches mental health and wellbeing in different ways. In addition to our firmwide and regional offerings, all trainees attend core programmes throughout their onboarding and two-year period that cover a range of topics through the lens of working in private practice.
We aim to reduce the stigma associated with mental health status and share tools to enable everyone at the firm to support themselves and their colleagues. And we seek to cultivate a workplace culture where everyone can thrive.
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