Morrison Foerster - The Inside View

There’s no such thing as FOMO at MoFo when it comes to working with the best in tech.

It’s not often that you’ll hear ‘mofo’ used as an affectionate term – that is unless you’re an associate practicing at a certain San Francisco-born tech-focused outfit. Nickname aside, Morrison Foerster stood out to our associate interviewees for far more than just it’s tech offering. “It matched what I wanted from the outside,” one insider recalled. “I liked the unlimited pro-bono hours, and I valued the size and types of transactions, expertise, and resources available.” Indeed, expertise is the key word here, and MoFo’s got it in spades. Take it from our sister guide, Chambers USA, which decorates the firm with top-notch nationwide rankings for its government contracts, intellectual property (appellate), privacy & data security, agency financing projects, and – of course – technology work. The latter comes as no surprise given the firm’s Bay Area origins and proximity to Silicon Valley. The firm also picks up gold stars in its home state of California for its corporate/M&A (deals in Asia), intellectual property (patent litigation, patent prosecution, and trademark, copyright & trade secrets), and technology transactions know-how, while over in New York, the outsourcing team shines bright. It’s ever likely that our sources praised MoFo for being “a well-rounded firm, offering exposure to different practices.”

“You get to hit the ground running here.”

Second key word: exposure. Accompanying the firm’s well-decorated practice is the hands-on experience associates are able to gain so early on. “You’re staffed with high level partners, which is wonderful for your development – you get to hit the ground running here,” insiders gushed.

MoFo’s got a ten office network stateside; the majority of juniors join the San Francisco, DC, and New York bases. A further eight international offices across key hubs in Asia and Europe make up the firm’s global presence.

Strategy & Future  

“The joining of Durie Tangri, a boutique litigation firm in California, is part the firm’s strategy of building on strength upon strength”, explains vice-chair Jennifer Marines. “Intellectual property and other high-profile litigation is an area where we already had a robust offering in litigation and trial expertise, and the addition of the 22 DT attorneys brought great incremental value,” she adds. Looking ahead, Marines explains, “We continue to look for growth opportunities across geographies in private equity and adjacent practices. Another area for us is emerging markets and venture capital; we’ve seen considerable growth there with clients coming to us from every stage in the life cycle.”

Read more from Jennifer Marines under the ‘Get Hired’ tab.

The Work 

Budding litigators are either hired directly into a specific group, such as IP litigation, or join as generalists. Those joining the transactions department are assigned to a sub-group, like tech or general finance, but can also initially work across groups as generalists to get a flavor for the work. “One of my biggest fears was being cabined,” one transactional associate confessed, before adding, “Here at the end of your second year you officially join a group. This is something the firm encourages – to shop around different groups.” The consensus among our interviewees what that this process was “organic. You end up in your group by nature of the work you get.” 

“Free market with a safety net” was how our interviewees described work allocation. Those taking the generalist route found that it was more of a “choose your own adventure,” with work coordinators there to manage assignment flow and ensure juniors get a taste of a range of practices. Otherwise, it’s largely “relationship focused,” sources explained. “I enjoy working with them, and they with me,” and the process repeats!

“I feel like all I have to do is put my hand up and ask to try.” 

MoFo’s litigation offering spans a number of subgroups including (but not limited to) antitrust, national security, employment & labor, class actions & mass torts, privacy & data, intellectual property, and SLEW (otherwise known as securities litigation, enforcement, investigations, and white-collar defense). We heard certain offices have certain strengths, with regulatory work being particularly strong in San Francisco, while privacy related matters are often concentrated in New York and Boston. That said, sources were keen to add that the firm regularly cross-staffs matters. One source in particular highlighted being “staffed across criminal and civil buckets – including one of the biggest pharmaceutical matters in the industry! – individual criminal matters, engineering, health care services, and government contracting matters.” Talk about range.

Juniors across the group had varying responsibilities. Of course, there’s the legal research and doc review that are the backbone of any newbies’ to-do list. Our sources also mentioned opportunities to draft briefs and motions, as well as plenty of involvement in discovery requests and deposition preparation. Overall, interviewees were pleased with the level of substantive work available: “I feel like all I have to do is put my hand up and ask to try.” 

Litigation clients: Bumble, Warner Music Group, Chobani. Defended Oracle in a putative class action alleging wiretapping and invasion of privacy, among other claims, under California, Florida, and federal law.

“…the flexibility to learn how to litigate different types of technologies…”

“One of the strengths of the IP litigation group” is that MoFo “handles matters across a wide range of industries from consumer to pharmaceuticals, and we don’t silo people into different types of IP here,” one associate helpfully summarized. “It gives people the flexibility to learn how to litigate different types of technologies and is what keeps the work exciting!” Sources were also keen to note that the firm doesn’t require candidates to come from a STEM background in order to get a seat at the IP litigation table. “It makes us a well-rounded group,” they added of the various backgrounds. Here, juniors can expect to be immersed in plenty of doc review, alongside drafting briefs, expert reports, patent analysis, as well as note taking duties. Generally, juniors are in charge of “tracking discreet tasks for bigger with lots of moving parts.”

IP litigation clients: Walmart, VMware, Clorox. Represented Virtru, a data encryption and digital privacy provider, in a patent infringement dispute against Microsoft. 

MoFo’s transactions department covers business restructuring & insolvency, capital markets, EC/VC (emerging companies & venture capital), executive compensation, M&A/private equity, real estate, finance and many more. For finance, the “big headline items are the likes of acquisitions financing, financing for general corporate matters, capital expenditure, and asset-based lending,” one associate explained. Much of the work involves borrowers, “such as big international and domestic banks, investment companies, and institutional investors,” while the lender side “is much more diverse and includes the likes of technology companies.” Within the realm of finance, juniors can expect to be taking the first draft of ancillary documents, keeping track of completion checklists, filing documents, as well as due diligence. 

Transactions clients: eBay, Uber Technologies, Honeywell. Advised Softbank in its agreement to sell its 90.01% equity in Fortress Investment Group to Mubadala Investment Company.

Career Development 

MoFo offers a variety of mandatory training sessions through its junior, mid-level, and senior academies, as well as online training via MoFo LEARN. The firm’s also got an attorney development team on hand for associates to reach out to for guidance: “You can chat with them anytime you want, and they are available to meet with you.” There are various opportunities to “seek out coaching on a number of things, such as with a career coach on writing or time management.” Newbies are assigned formal associate and partner mentors upon joining the firm, but sources also spoke of plenty of informal mentorship opportunities within affinity groups.


Our interviewees were keen to straighten out some stereotypes. “As a west coast firm, people think we’re very sandal and jeans all the time,” they noted. While the tech culture of business casual dress (with the occasional pair of jeans) has certainly rubbed off on the firm, it remains the fact that there’s certainly nothing casual about the work carried out. “MoFo is very dedicated to excellence in practice,” said insiders. These high standards don’t come at the expense of a friendly face, however. “People are willing to work with you. They want you to do your best,” our interviewees made clear. Collaboration is key here, with the “expectation that you’ll be a good teammate.” Of course, “there is an understanding that we’re constantly learning and there is room to make mistakes. People want you to become a better attorney.”  

On the social side of things, our interviewees mentioned biweekly team lunches, rooftop happy hours, annual dinners, and holiday parties, as well as a smattering of networking events. “I’ve built genuine friendships here,” a source gushed.

Hours & Compensation 

Billable hours: 1,950 target 

Associates are required to bill at least 1,950 hours to become bonus eligible. This includes unlimited pro bono hours, DEI activities, and up to 100 hours of activities like business development and knowledge management, which, for our sources, meant the target was “super achievable.” In fact, “I haven’t thought about it twice as it just happens naturally,” an interviewee commented. Day to day, “you’re treated like an adult and empowered to run your own schedule. If I need to go to the doctors or take my pet to the vet, I’ve never had to tell someone unless I’m going to miss something.” This extends to “people picking up and dropping off their kids” as well.  

Associates are generally in the office at least three times a week. The reception to the firm’s “return to office policy has been pretty good, and everyone has enjoyed the flexibility,” an associate noted, adding that the flexible approach acknowledges people’s different working rhythms. For instance, as the firm heavily cross-staffs its matters, associates may choose to start earlier in the morning or work later in the night to match the time zones of their case-teams. On that note, as is the case with BigLaw, there are occasions where associates have had to work later into the evening. “Some days I bill 12 hours, while some days I bill four,” an insider noted of the fluctuations. That said, “you’re encouraged to embrace the ebb and flow!” After a long stint of “trial prep, I was encouraged to take a vacation.”

Pro Bono  

MoFo’s pro-bono practice “is the cherry on top!” our insiders grinned. “When things are happening in the world, with regard to pro bono, MoFo strives to meet the moment,” an associate praised. With no limit on the hours associates can count towards their billable targets, there’s certainly plenty our sources got stuck into. Opportunities include (but are by no means limited to) gender affirming care, immigration, family, domestic violence, women’s rights, criminal, veteran, and environmental matters. And “if you have an idea for a project, you can raise that with the firm, too!” One source in particular relished the opportunity to continue to work on criminal advocacy matters: “It was something close to what I did in law school, and close to my beliefs when I started down my pathway to becoming a lawyer!” 

Transactional lawyers, fret not! While a lot of pro bono opportunities can be litigation-focused, “MoFo has been good at sourcing matters that cater to transactional interests,” too. One M&A associate described working for a number of environmental non-profits to answer complex legal questions.

Pro bono hours  

  • For all (US) attorneys: 62,128
  • Average per (US) attorney: undisclosed

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion  

At MoFo, those who partake in DE&I initiatives and events can bill the hours towards their bonus. With over 30 affinity groups, the firm “constantly sends out emails when they have events or speakers,” so there are plenty of opportunities for associates to get involved. In terms of diverse representation at the firm, as is the case across BigLaw, “it definitely thins out at the higher levels,” sources mentioned. The firm's taking steps to bolster diverse retention by assigning new diverse and/or women partners a partner liaison through their New Partner Engagement Program.

“…there are people from all walks of life here.”

That said, associates acknowledged the firm’s efforts in early years recruitment: “MoFo is good at recruiting a diverse population at the junior level.” The firm sponsors the Keith Wetmore Fellowship for 1L and 2Ls who have demonstrated a commitment to DE&I in the legal profession. Moreover, in 2023, MoFo was awarded Mansfield Certification Plus, which indicates that there are at least 30% diverse lawyers across notable leadership roles. Ultimately, an associate made clear, “I don’t feel like I’m left out professionally as there are people from all walks of life here.”


Get Hired

The first stage: recruitment on and off campus  

OCI applicants interviewed: 980   

Interviewees outside OCI: 37 

Partners typically conduct the interviews at OCIs, although senior associates may do so on occasion as well. Chief legal talent officer Diane Downs says “we encourage interviewers to build a rapport with students, ask behavioural questions and answer questions about the firm.” Downs says interviewers want to get “a memorable picture of who you are and how you will fit in as a member of one of our work teams.” To achieve this, we ask questions like Tell us about how you have worked well in teams in the past. Tell us about how you approached a difficult challenge and how that worked out. Tell us how your work impacted the work of the team.”   

Top tips for this stage:    

“A genuine interest in the firm you’re interviewing with goes a long way. Be sure to do your research and come prepared with questions about the summer program and the firm in general.” – Chief legal talent officer Diane Downs   


Applicants invited to second stage interview: 255 (223 from OCI, 32 from outside OCI)  

Candidates meet with four to six attorneys during callbacks (some offices also include a lunch as part of the process). On arrival candidates are met by a recruitment team member, “who’ll walk them through the process for the day and be a contact between interviews to help interviewees feel comfortable.” Downs says “students should conduct research on the firm, practice area strengths at the firm and have an understanding of what the attorneys do.”   

Top tips for this stage:   

“It’s not just about selling your past accomplishments – it’s more about selling what you’ll do great here.” a second-year junior associate   

“Bring your energy and engage with our interviewers in a conversation that highlights what you bring to the table and avoid canned answers.” Chief legal talent officer Diane Downs   

Summer program  

Offers: 1Ls: 25, 2Ls: 111, Returning 2Ls: 27 

Acceptances: 1Ls: 18, 2Ls: 50, Returning 2Ls: 20 

Total Summer 2024 Class: 88 (18 1Ls, 70 2Ls)  

In some offices, summers come into the firm with an assigned practice area and will return to that practice area as a junior associate. In other offices, summers are invited to explore practice areas during their summer and will receive an offer to return to a specific practice area upon graduation. In those cases, “practice areas are chosen based on mutual interest and practice hiring needs,” according to Downs.   

Summers get work from a central assignment system by a work coordinator (either a partner or senior associate). There isn’t a formal rotational system between practice areas, but Downs says the firm encourages students to explore different assignments “and remain curious throughout the summer.” Each office sets up orientation and training programs to integrate summers, and special activities “including sporting events and cultural events, as well as events that reflect each office’s unique geographic and cultural attributes.”   

Associates said MoFo’s summer program is “designed to help you develop lasting relationships, because once you start at the firm it’s hard to find time to really hang out and have fun with the people you’re working with.”   

Top tips for this stage:   

“Summer associates will have ample opportunity to solicit feedback and should feel comfortable seeking and implementing feedback.” – Chief legal talent officer Diane Downs   

And finally….   

Chief legal talent officer Diane Downs tells us the firm also likes “to incorporate pro bono opportunities and diversity events throughout the summer.” 

Interview with Jennifer Marines, Vice Chair


Commercial strategy, market position and trends 

Chambers Associate: How would you define your firm’s current position and identity in the legal market? What differentiates your firm from your peer firms in the market? 

Jennifer Marines: The leadership team spends a lot of time thinking about this as we consider firm strategies and investments. As a firm in an ever-changing legal market and world, we are consistently revisiting who we are and where our core strengths lie so that we can build upon those strengths. MoFo is a destination law firm for ambitious attorneys with a culture of collaboration and excellence, and leadership draws from that to build on where we are going. We have a leading market position in technology, life sciences, food and agriculture, fintech, ESG, and government controversies. We also have a good balance between our transactional and litigation practices. In recent history, we have seen some firms overweight themselves to transactional practice areas.  While that can drive revenue in certain markets in a down cycle, these firms have suffered. MoFo has always gotten the balance right, with a thoughtful mix of practice groups across 10 offices in the U.S. and multiple offices across Europe and Asia. 

CA: Have there been any developments at the firm over the past year that you’d like law students to know about?  

Marines: Eric McCrath officially took over as chair in October 2022. With Eric’s election, I stepped into the role of Vice Chair, together with Jeff Jaeckel. I’m also maintaining my bankruptcy and restructuring practice in addition to my leadership role. We believe in transparency and the importance of communicating our goal, strategies, and initiatives across the firm. We host quarterly calls with the associate committee representatives to share updates about the firm’s strategy and answer questions in real time. We also travel to our global offices on a regular basis and host town halls with associates so we can interact with them in person and build relationships with our young talent.  

CA: Are there any domestic or international events/trends that are affecting any of the firm’s practices at the moment? Are there any trends that you think are affecting the business of law firms more generally, and how is that playing out with your firm? 

Marines: I was recently at a managing partner conference, and everyone was talking about ChatGPT and other generative artificial intelligence applications. Like most other law firms, we are focused on transformative technology that will impact our industry. We are focused on it in terms of what our clients are doing. As a top tech firm, we are focused on what challenges and opportunities our clients are facing and want to focus on growth in those areas to support them.  We are also thinking about how we are doing in terms of using AI tech more efficiently, both internally and with respect to supporting clients.   

We instituted an AI & governance committee at the start of this year and also have an existing pilot program to see what applications are good and not good.  We hope to use all of this information to support the work we are doing for our clients, and also to keep abreast of what is going on in the AI industry at large. 

CA: How does the acquisition that came into effect at the beginning of this year with Durie Tangri fit into the firm’s future strategy, and what can we expect to see from that over the coming years?  

Marines: The joining of Durie Tangri (DT), a boutique litigation firm in California, is part of the firm’s strategy of building on strength upon strength.  Intellectual property and other high-profile litigation is an area where we already had a robust offering in litigation and trial expertise, and the addition of the 22 DT attorneys brought great incremental value. We continue to search for opportunities to build upon our strengths; IP litigation is but one of them. Private equity is a keen focus of the firm.  In 2014 we had two private equity partners join us with corporate and finance experience, and they have grown our private equity group exponentially. We continue to look for growth opportunities across geographies in private equity and adjacent practices. Another area for us is emerging markets and venture capital; we’ve seen considerable growth there with clients coming to us from every stage in the life cycle.   

CA: How do you predict the legal profession will change in the next five years? Are there any particular challenges the industry is facing? 

Marines: I think what we’re seeing now is that litigation practices are extraordinarily busy while the transactional practices are not as busy. That is going to change at some point in 2024, probably sooner rather than later. It is cyclical and this is just the part of the cycle we’re in right now. As a firm, our balanced approach affords us peace of mind; though other law firms are surely worried. 

Return to office is another challenge for the legal profession.  In the wake of the pandemic, law firms are trying to work out what the ‘new normal’ is. People are back in the office, which is important for numerous reasons, including interpersonal relationships, organic mentorship, and training. People have been back in the office, and it has been extraordinarily important to our culture of collaboration and friendliness. Law firms need to weigh those benefits while recognizing that being flexible is a good thing as well. This is something that all law firms are still grappling with. 

Inside the Firm 

CA: How is the firm evolving to accommodate the needs/expectations of the next generation of lawyers? 

Marines: We have a robust suite of programs and support system in place for associates. One of the key things we offer is MoFo Navigate which has various programs in the buildup to partnership status. One of the best things to suceed is finding a good mentor. I’ve had multiple mentors who have been integral to my success. We’re training mentors continuously about what it means to be a sponsor who uses his or her own political capital to train and elevate associates. We have regular touch points with associates, and we go beyond formal mentorship within practice groups by encouraging informal mentorship opportunities with partners.  

CA: What’s the firm’s approach to bolstering diversity, equity, and inclusion?  

Marines: We’re continually working with our D&I network and Chief Diversity Officer to focus on diversity and inclusion. I feel very fiercely about this as it makes us a better law firm and it allows us to represent our clients in a better way through the inclusion of different experiences and backgrounds at our firm. We have over 30 affinity groups at the firm, including those for women of color, LGBTQ attorneys, attorneys with disabilities, veterans and many others, and they are open to everyone at the firm. We offer 50 hours of billable credit for work people do in connection with those affinity groups and other D&I activities. 

The Fun Bit 

CA: Is there any advice you’d give to your younger self starting out your career? 

Marines: Ask more questions as a younger lawyer! When I was junior, I felt I should know all the answers or that I had to figure them out myself. What I realize now is that, while there were questions with answers that were obvious or that I could figure out myself with diligence or extra research, there were many questions that weren’t easy to answer – ones that senior lawyers were probably grappling themselves.  I wish I had asked more questions earlier in my career and made my life easier. 

CA: The hours in BigLaw can be punishing. How do you unwind at the end of a long day/week? 

Marines: Spending time with my kids and doing creative things with them. We love building things in this house – drawing and painting, as well as taking walks and doing sports. It is the best way to unwind. 

CA: Is there a movie/TV show/books about lawyers or the legal profession that you particularly enjoy? And how accurate would you say it is? 

Marines: I don’t watch movies, but I love Law & Order.  Though, it is not at all accurate. On TV, trials are wrapped up in an hour, but litigation in the real world can take years or even decades.  The exception may be my practice where some matters wrap up in 30 days – all the discovery, deposition, trial, and decisions.  






Morrison Foerster

425 Market Street,
San Francisco,
CA 94105-2482

Main areas of work

  Appellate; antitrust; business restructuring and insolvency; capital markets; clean technology and alternative energy; commercial litigation; consumer class actions; emerging companies and venture capital; energy; financial transactions; financial services; global risk and crisis management; intellectual property; investigations and white collar defense; life sciences; mergers and acquisitions; national security; patent; privacy and data security; private equity; product liability; real estate; securities litigation, tax; and technology transactions. 

Firm profile

  Morrison Foerster is a global firm of exceptional credentials. With more than 1,000 lawyers in 18 offices in key technology and financial centers in the United States, Europe and Asia, the firm advises the world’s leading financial institutions, investment banks and technology, telecommunications, life sciences and Fortune 100 companies.


Law Schools attending for OCIs in 2022:
Benjamin Cardozo School of Law, Boston College, Boston University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Fordham University, George Washington University, Georgetown University, Harvard University, Maurice A. Deane School of Law-Hofstra, Howard University, McGill University, New York University, Northwestern University, Santa Clara University, Stanford University, UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UC Hastings, UC Irvine, UCLA, University of Connecticut, University of Chicago, University of Michigan, University of Pennsylvania, University of San Diego, University of Southern California, University of Texas–Austin, University of Virginia, Yale University.

Recruitment outside OCIs:

Generally, about 20% of our summer class is made up of 1Ls who were hired outside of OCI. We also recruit a small number of 2Ls in advance of OCI on a write-in basis.

Summer associate profile:
Morrison Foerster looks for individuals of exceptional intelligence whose academic and other achievements evidence their talent, motivation, energy and creativity. 

Summer program components:
The summer program is intended to give summer associates a real sense of what it means to practice at MoFo. Work is distributed using a central assignment system, taking into account your areas of interest. Typical assignments include writing briefs, motions, contracts and client memoranda, assisting in drafting and negotiation sessions, assisting in depositions and witness preparation and performing due diligence in corporate transactions, as well as pro bono assignments. A variety of training programs are designed specifically for summer associates, including practice area presentations. Each summer associate is assigned one or more mentors to help acclimate him or her to the firm. Mentors take their summer associates out to lunch, introduce their summer associates to the lawyers and staff in their practice group and office and act as a sounding board for any questions or concerns summer associates may have throughout the summer.

Social media

Recruitment website:
Linkedin:Morrison Foerster LLP

This Firm's Rankings in
USA Guide, 2023

Ranked Departments

    • Antitrust (Band 4)
    • Banking & Finance (Band 4)
    • Corporate/M&A: Deals in Asia (Band 1)
    • Intellectual Property: Patent Litigation (Band 1)
    • Intellectual Property: Patent Prosecution (Band 1)
    • Intellectual Property: Trademark, Copyright & Trade Secrets (Band 1)
    • Labor & Employment: The Elite (Band 4)
    • Life Sciences (Band 2)
    • Litigation: General Commercial: The Elite (Band 2)
    • Litigation: Securities (Band 2)
    • Technology: Transactions (Band 1)
    • Venture Capital (Band 3)
    • Corporate/M&A: The Elite (Band 3)
    • Real Estate (Band 4)
    • Antitrust (Band 5)
    • Intellectual Property: Litigation (Band 3)
    • Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations (Band 4)
    • Banking & Finance (Band 3)
    • Bankruptcy/Restructuring: The Elite (Band 3)
    • Corporate/M&A: Highly Regarded (Band 4)
    • Litigation: General Commercial: Highly Regarded (Band 2)
    • Litigation: Securities (Band 5)
    • Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations: The Elite (Band 3)
    • Outsourcing (Band 1)
    • Real Estate: Mainly Corporate & Finance (Band 4)
    • Appellate Law (Band 3)
    • Banking & Finance (Band 5)
    • Bankruptcy/Restructuring: The Elite (Band 3)
    • Corporate Crime & Investigations: The Elite (Band 4)
    • Corporate/M&A: The Elite (Band 4)
    • Derivatives (Band 4)
    • FCPA (Band 2)
    • Financial Services Regulation: Banking (Compliance) (Band 5)
    • Financial Services Regulation: Consumer Finance (Compliance) (Band 3)
    • Financial Services Regulation: Consumer Finance (Litigation) (Band 3)
    • Food & Beverages: Regulatory & Litigation (Band 4)
    • Government Contracts: The Elite (Band 1)
    • Intellectual Property (Band 2)
    • Intellectual Property: Appellate (Band 1)
    • International Trade: CFIUS Experts (Band 4)
    • International Trade: Export Controls & Economic Sanctions: The Elite (Band 4)
    • International Trade: Intellectual Property (Section 337) (Band 4)
    • Life Sciences (Band 3)
    • Outsourcing (Band 3)
    • Privacy & Data Security: The Elite (Band 1)
    • Projects: Agency Financing (Band 1)
    • REITs (Band 2)
    • Retail (Band 4)
    • Retail: Corporate & Transactional (Band 2)
    • Securities: Litigation (Band 4)
    • Startups & Emerging Companies (Band 3)
    • Tax: Controversy (Band 5)
    • Technology (Band 1)

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