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Overview

Introduction

Exemplary work is standard at MoFo, but as its nickname suggests, the firm—and its lawyers—don’t take themselves too seriously. MoFo excels in many practice areas, including IP and privacy, and is a stand-out in the pro bono area, assisting in a wide range of matters. MoFo complements its expertise in IP, finance, life sciences, technology, and litigation with a long reach across the Pacific Rim and, more recently, into Europe.

Firm Stats


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Total No. Attorneys (2021)


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No. of Partners Named (2021)


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Featured Rankings

Vault Law 100...


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No. of 1st Year Associates Hired (2020)



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No. of Summer Associates (2021)



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Base Salary

All U.S. offices/U.S. practice attorneys in international offices...

Vault Verdict

Teamwork is key to MoFo’s culture, and as a result, the firm focuses on recruiting team players who will mesh with the firm’s laid-back vibe. Candidates should prepare to answer behavioral interview questions, as well as the ever-important “Why Morrison & Foerster?” The firm is welcoming, and lawyers are eager to socialize with each other—including on Zoom throughout the pandemic. Partners value associates, and it shows both through their commitment to mentor and their openness to associate questions and opinions. Associates have mixed reviews on transparency, with some feeling certain areas—such as partnership—are murky. Overall, associates feel partnership is a tough road, though they don’t feel the firm is up or out for those who don’t make it to the top—and they feel s...

Firm's Response

Morrison & Foerster is a global firm of exceptional credentials, recognized throughout the world as a leader in providing cutting-edge legal advice on groundbreaking matters that are redefining industries. We are proud to be part of The American Lawyer’s 2021 A-List ranking, which names the top 20 most wel...

About the Firm

 

In 1973, those cats in San Fran approved “MoFo” as Morrison & Foerster’s official nickname, accentuating the firm’s unconventional modus operandi. Still, the firm is distinguished by much more than its rebel epithet. MoFo complements its expertise in IP, finance, life sciences, technology, and litigation with a long reach across the Pacific Rim and, more recently, into Europe.

From the Golden Gate to the Great Wall

More than 120 years ago, Alexander Morrison and Thomas V. O’Brien founded the firm that became today’s Morrison & Foerster in San Francisco. It wasn’t until the early 1960s that the firm ventured away from Northern California, hopping on for the ride when one of its major San Francisco clients, Crocker National Bank, decided to open a...

Associate Reviews


  • “Attorneys often socialize together in both firm-sponsored and after-hours events. Even with the pandemic, attorneys are great about reaching out and trying to set up virtual events and happy hours to stay connected. Interactions with all attorneys are sincerely so pleasant and friendly.”
  • “We take the work seriously, but not ourselves. Everyone is very eager to meet you, and my practice group made a real effort to make the new associates feel welcome, even in the remote environment.”
  • “I chose MoFo for the culture, and it has lived up to the reputation. I feel like the firm cares about the development of its associates and everyone in the office is friendly and welcoming. It seems like people in the office genuinely like each other and enjoy each other's company.”
  • “MoFo firm culture is relatively laid back and easygoing. The firm leans left on social justice issues and the partners strive for diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Our local office frequently hosts social events and friendly competitions to keep associates engaged.”
  • “Partners take a genuine interest in associates' development. I've had partners bring me to client meetings, business development opportunities, etc. since I was a first-year associate. Partners will take the time to explain concepts and work together with associates to help them develop. …”
  • “Partners generally treat associates with respect. Relatively transparent on firm finances and performance reviews; not transparent on internal promotion. Associates get annual reviews.”
  • “Most partners treat associates very well, including considering their input, treating them as colleagues rather than subordinates, [and] providing feedback and opportunities to grow.”
  • “Partners treat associates with respect. People are treated as colleagues here, and most partners seem to welcome direct associate interactions and questions. There are regular financial and other updates presented by firm management. Reviews are conducted on an annual basis, though associates may seek informal feedback in between those periods.”
  • There is a great deal of flexibility provided to attorneys, including flexible and reduced hours schedules. There is no face-time requirement that I have experienced—as long as you are trustworthy and do quality work, on-time, you can manage your own schedule and people are understanding when other commitments arise.”
  • “The hours requirements are reasonable, and flexible. However, in the past few years, I have personally been always busy and working much more than required. Work distribution is not very well thought out in some cases.”
  • “We work a lot—the firm is just very busy right now—but it is definitely not unmanageable and everyone from the top down has been insistent that your personal life doesn't have to take a back seat to work. So long as you communicate, there is a lot of flexibility so long as you aren't dragging down the team,”
  • “Hours can be unpredictable at times.”
  • “The firm decided to lower the billing requirement for first-year associates, which is a tremendous relief given the difficulty onboarding remotely.”
  • “The firm compensates at market, but as an individual I feel we are well rewarded for the firm's success. Associates received an extra bonus for their work during the pandemic.”
  • MoFo is a market follower, and bonus announcements come fairly late compared to its peers. Billable-hours requirement is not too onerous and allows unlimited pro bono hours.”
  • “MoFo is committed to meeting market compensation. MoFo offers additional high-billable bonuses for associates that exceed their billable requirement by some percent.”
  • “All pro bono hours count towards the yearly billable goal, which is a big perk.”
  • “I'm often given much more than just basic legal research assignments or doc review. I sincerely feel that I'm a contributing member of the team with the level of substantive assignments I'm given and opportunities to be a part of some higher-level decision-making.”
  • “My assignments are all substantive and challenging. As a junior associate, I feel like I'm given plenty of responsibility. I am even encouraged to delegate the more ‘busy’ work to our paralegals and administrative staff.”
  • “As a mid-level, I do a good amount of deal management, including revising transaction documents, reviewing diligence summaries, and managing calls. I also draft and negotiate commercial agreements, generally with some partner oversight. I believe these responsibilities are consistent with my level.”
  • “I have been given substantive and intellectually challenging work since the first year.”
  • “The firm has done a great job of making sure we all have what we need, especially while remote. I've been extremely satisfied with the IT department, which is always responsive and available.”
  • “All associates and staff got stipends to set up home officers. IT support is available 24/7. If new technology is needed, it is sent express directly to our homes.”
  • “I appreciated how quickly the firm was able to adapt to the remote work environment.”
  • “The firm's existing remote access allowed for a seamless transition into the work from home environment.”
  • “Especially since the COVID-19 pandemic began, the firm has instituted robust and regular wellness programs, including regular emails from firm leadership, access to mental health tools and information, exercise and nutrition programs, and other support for attorneys' overall well-being.”
  • “The firm has been trying to provide resources to its attorneys and staff for physical and mental wellness. There have been some friendly competitive events relating to fitness and wellness across the firm. There are weekly free work-out session via Zoom and a premium subscription to the Calm app. Other counseling resources are also available.”
  • “The firm has provided various resources and added benefits that focus on mental health and wellness throughout the pandemic. It pushes positive messaging to associates to make sure to take time for ourselves as needed. That being said, the day-to-day workload remains demanding, and the reality is that we often cannot take advantage of these offerings due to client demands.”
  • “The firm really made fantastic efforts to support our mental health during the COVID pandemic. The firm hired a consulting epidemiologist as a resources for all of us as well as for guidance for how to run the offices. The firm also offers telehealth services including mental health counseling and has undertaken several awareness campaigns, especially among the partnership, to encourage people to be understanding and flexible as we all deal with unusual responsibilities and family crises.
  • “Partners seem to enjoy taking on mentorship roles, and are generally quite receptive to requests for advice or guidance regarding professional development. Partners and senior associates seek to provide more junior associates with meaningful, substantive experience—e.g., speaking at court hearings, conducting depositions, and ownership of drafting filings.”
  • “I have a partner mentor who often provides guidance and creates opportunities for me to increase my visibility in the firm.”
  • “The firm provides access to online training resources, including internally developed form documents. There are plenty of formal mentorship programs (including peer mentors and partner mentors).”
  • “There is no shortage of trainings at the firm, both formal and informal. There are general and practice group-specific trainings.”
  • “Partnership or of-counsel positions are definitely available for the highest performing associates. Otherwise, exit opportunities are widely available, and partners actively support and help associates seeking such other positions.”
  • “Realistically, most associates will not make partner and the average time to make partner is around 11-13 years. Some senior associates transition to of counsel positions. Most associates take coveted in-house counsel positions at top companies across industries.”
  • “While the firm is not very transparent about partnership, individual partners are and are open to discussing partnership prospects and other opportunities. I have been surprised that multiple partners have been willing to keep an eye out for the type of niche in-house opportunities I am interested in (while also not pressuring me or pushing me out the door). There does not seem to be pressure to leave early, and there are definitely non-partnership opportunities available.”
  • “Partnership is rare but realistic if that's something the associate really wants and is motivated to do.”
  • “This is one of the firm's strong suits. I tend to work on immigration matters, including U Visa petitions, employment authorization renewals, LPR petitions, naturalization applications, etc., but there are endless opportunities here and the firm is very supportive of pro bono, generally.”
  • “The firm is strongly committed to pro bono. Associates regularly receive various pro bono opportunities across various subjects and practices. Associates are to aspire to at least 25 hours of pro bono work a year, and there is no cap that I am aware of. Pro bono hours count as billable hours. I recently worked on a fact sheet for legal aid to assist with many questions that small business owners have been raising due to the pandemic and shutdowns.”
  • “The firm treats pro bono work just like any other billable matter. Since 2019, I have been working on a civil rights suit involving unconstitutional student searches motivated by race and gender bias, and it has consumed a substantial portion of my billable time. The firm has been nothing but supportive and encouraging.”
  • “Pro bono hours count as billable hours. I have recently volunteered with election protection via the Lawyer's Committee where I volunteered on a hotline to answer voting questions from callers.”

 

  • “The firm is very active on the diversity and inclusion front. The committees for women and on diversity are always meeting and coming up with more events and resources for various groups. Parental leave and child care related benefits have always been good here. The firm does not offer billable credit for diversity-related work/activities and certain associates get tasked with these more than others so that would be a welcome change.”
  • “As an LGBTQ individual, I found the firm receptive and effective with regards to LGBTQ issues.”
  • “The firm is committed to increasing diversity, creating affinity groups, task forces and the like. The programs the firm offers (like the diversity fellowship and parental benefits) all foster diversity. As a mom of young kids, I have never once felt hindered by being a mother.”
  • “Our firm works hard to provide a diverse and open environment. Relative to other large law firms, our firm is excellent. The legal industry as a whole, however, needs to work on improving diversity.”

Why Work Here


The world of MoFo

Morrison & Foerster is an international firm with over 1000 lawyers in key technology and financial centers in the U.S., Europe and Asia.  Founded in 1883, the firm’s dedication to clients is reflected in the firm’s mantra that it is every lawyer’s responsibility to provide clients with “legendary service.”  Clients include some of the largest financial institutions, Fortune 100 companies, investment banks and technology and life science companies.   The firm is consistently included as one of America’s top 20 law firms in The American Lawyer’s A-List.  Their practitioners are recognized by their peers in reference guides including IFLR1000, PLC Cross-border Handbooks, Chambers Global and Legal 500.  The firm is consistently recognized for its commitment to the community and pro bono, recently honored by the Pro Bono Institute's John H. Pickering Award, given in recognition of the firm's unwavering commitment to pro bono.  PBI highlighted the firm's recent pro bono victories, including a ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court protecting juveniles from life sentences without parole in non-homicide offenses, and another case securing the release of a man wrongly imprisoned for 20 years.

Diversity at Morrison & Foerster LLP

"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 firm's 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. In short, we aim to make our firm a model of diversity that others will follow. Our Legal Professionals • 19 percent of partners, 38 percent of associates, and 22..."

Getting Hired Here


  • “The firm provides guidelines in the hiring process, but generally most of the vetting happens based on grades, academics institution of origin and extra curriculars. I think the most important thing to the firm is ‘fit,’ with the team since the firm's greatest asset is its culture.”
  • “Just be yourself. Looking for good team players and down-to-earth people.”
  • “MoFo hires leanly and looks for a good cultural fit, as well as the usual academic qualifications. We have a few ‘feeder schools’ where certain partners drive the relationship, but we definitely hire a decent percent of students from other law schools if they have particular interests that suit what we do, and they connect well with certain partners. Interviewers do receive training, and we have a rubric by which we assess candidates.”
  • “My practice group seeks clerks, those with journal experience, and grades. There is less emphasis on the particular law school. As a firm, MoFo values the ability to work with others; a team approach to problem solving; and a person who is interested in helping others succeed, rather than just themselves.”
  • “What was an unexpected challenge you faced at a prior job/during law school, and how did you deal with it? Is there any non-law topic on which you can claim expertise? Can you explain it (e.g., skiing, barbecuing, poetry)?”
  • “Why MoFo specifically?”
  • “What's your favorite class from law school?”
  • “Why are you interested in this practice group? Where do you see yourself in five years? What are your favorite things to do on the weekend? …”
  • “[The] firm provides a partner mentor for first 18 months to help transition into firm. Also assigns an associate contact to rely on to navigate life at the firm and office.”
  • “It's hard to lateral in a remote work environment but the firm did a good job to set up appropriate training, technology set-ups and check-ins to make sure everything moved smoothly.”
  • “Good processes in place to integrate laterals into the team.”

Practice Area Q&A’s


Mark L. Whitaker & Rachel Dolphin

Partner & Co-Chair & Associate

Morrison & Foerster LLP
Benjamin T.R. Fox

Associate

Morrison & Foerster LLP
Cecillia X. Xie

Associate

Morrison & Foerster LLP
Stephanie Sharron

Partner

Morrison & Foerster LLP

Perks & Benefits