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Morrison & Foerster LLP

San Francisco

Morrison & Foerster LLP - New York
  • 425 Market Street
  • San Francisco
  • California
  • USA
  • CA 94105-2482
  • Chair of the Firm: Larren M Nashelsky
  • Managing Partners: Craig D Martin, Eric Piesner, Anna Erickson White
  • Number of partners worldwide: 365
  • Number of US partners: 291
  • Number of other lawyers worldwide: 735
  • Number of other US lawyers: 579
  • Regional Offices: The firm also has offices in Denver, Los Angeles, Northern Virginia, Palo Alto, Sacramento and San Diego
  • International Offices:  The firm has offices in Beijing, Brussels, Hong Kong, London, Shanghai, Singapore and Tokyo.

Firm Overview:
With more than 1,000 lawyers in 16 offices, Morrison & Foerster is a preeminent global law firm dedicated to delivering business-oriented results to clients across the United States, Europe and Asia. Dynamic technology and life science companies, large financial institutions, leading consumer product companies and other market leaders come to MoFo for knowledge, innovation and business aptitude. MoFo handles some of the world’s largest crossborder transactions and resolves major disputes across multiple jurisdictions. The firm has a long-standing commitment to pro bono work and social justice.

Main Areas of Practice:
Antitrust & Competition:
The firm’s global antitrust lawyers are recognized leaders who resolve complex antitrust cases through dispositive motions, but are capable of taking any case to trial. They draw on a deep well of experience to obtain successful results in criminal investigations and merger reviews.

Business Restructuring & Insolvency:
MoFo is counsel to debtors, creditors’ committees, secured lenders and other participants in the distressed markets in large, complex matters. The firm is a market leader in the restructuring of financial institutions, crossborder insolvencies, distressed real estate, creditors’ committee representation, insolvencies involving key intellectual property and hedge fund failures.

Capital Markets:
The firm is a pioneer in developing synthetic products, hybrid securities, structured products and derivatives. MoFo ranks as one of the leading firms for issuer and underwriter representations for initial public offerings, international offerings, REIT offerings, as well as offerings of debt, hybrid, preferred and structured securities. The firm advises in connection with private placements, PIPEs, IPOs, 144A/Reg S offerings, continuous issuance programs, including MTN,CP and covered bond programs.

Financial Services:
MoFo has one of the most recognized and most experienced banking and financial services regulatory practices in the United States, with more than five decades of work in the field. The firm represents domestic and foreign banks, credit card and other payment systems companies, savings associations, industrial loan companies and other financial services organisations.

The firm’s financial transactions practice provides a wide range of services to both lenders and borrowers, with leading lawyers in finance, investment management, debt trading and infrastructure finance. The firm handles virtually every type of real and personal property secured and unsecured financing transaction.

Intellectual Property:
MoFo has one of the largest and highest-rated intellectual property practices in the world.The firm provides a full range of services, including counseling, prosecution, litigation, dispute resolution, trade secrets and licensing transactions in patent, trademark and copyright matters.

The firm’s litigators are renowned for their success in high-stakes, complex cases worldwide.MoFo has some of the top trial and appellate lawyers in the United States, as well as leading practitioners in antitrust, securities,white-collar criminal defense, products liability, class action defense, unfair competition, employment, financial services, international arbitration, intellectual property, trade secrets and patents. The firm is noted for its US Supreme Court and appellate practice. MoFo is the only international law firmin Japan with a full-service litigation capacity.

Mergers & Acquisitions:
Morrison & Foerster has a leading global M&A practice. The depth and breadth of the practice, including a strong focus on cross-border transactions, reflects the dynamic nature of clients, which include Fortune 500 companies, private equity sponsors, investment banks and privately held companies. Lawyers work as an integrated team with colleagues with deep experience in key areas such as IP, antitrust, litigation, tax, labor and benefits, finance and bankruptcy, real estate, environmental law and securities.

Project Finance & Development:
The firm’s project finance lawyers assist clients in all aspects of the development, construction, financing, restructuring and purchase and sale of infrastructure projects around the world with a focus on energy, alternative energy and renewable resources. They also provide political risk insurance counseling.

Real Estate:
MoFo is a recognized leader across a broad spectrum of real estate activities, including development deals, acquisitions and dispositions, leases, market standard and complex financings and restructurings. Its clients include lenders, developers, equity investors and REITs.

MoFo’s tax practice enjoys a global reputation for innovative tax planning and the successful resolution of important tax controversies. The group advises on state and local tax, federal tax, compensation, benefits and ERISA, and trusts, estates and nonprofit organizations.

Areas of Practice

  • Antitrust & Competition
  • Business Restructuring & Insolvency
  • Capital Markets
  • Cleantech
  • Corporate
  • Employment & Labor
  • Energy
  • Financial Services
  • Financial Transactions
  • Intellectual Property
  • Investment Management
  • Land Use & Environmental
  • Life Sciences
  • Litigation, Arbitration, Trials, Appeals & Supreme Court
  • Mergers & Acquisitions
  • Privacy & Data Security
  • Product Liability
  • Project Finance & Development
  • Real Estate
  • Tax
  • Technology
  • Transactions


  • 1290 Avenue of the Americas,
  • New York,
  • USA
  • NY 10104-0050
  • Tel +1 212 468 8000
  • Fax +1 212 468 7900
  • Email : info@mofo.com
  • Website : www.mofo.com
  • 425 Market Street,
  • San Francisco,
  • California
  • USA
  • CA 94105-2482
  • Tel +1 415 268 7000
  • Fax +1 415 268 7522
  • Email : info@mofo.com
  • 2000 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW,
  • Suite 6000,
  • Washington, DC,
  • District of Columbia
  • USA
  • 20006-1888
  • Tel +1 202 887 1500
  • Fax +1 202 887 0763
  • Email : info@mofo.com

Antitrust - California

THE FIRM This group's focus is on the intersection between technology, IP and antitrust, an increasingly relevant and important part of the California antitrust market. Its clients include several major names in these areas such as Verizon, which it represented on a policy matter, and Nikon Metrology, for which it acted in a case involving antitrust matters in relation to patents. Its two California offices undertake antitrust litigation, counseling and transactional work.

Sources say: "Substantive expertise is a given - what differentiates them is that their partners are very practical and business-oriented problem solvers."

KEY INDIVIDUALS Penelope Preovolos is held in high regard by sources, who call her a "very bright and successful lawyer." Her antitrust expertise covers areas such as consumer class action defense and product liability, with an emphasis on technology matters.

Corporate/M&A - California

THE FIRM With a firm grounding in technology and life sciences, Morrison & Foerster continues to be a strong contender in the California corporate market. It has been involved in a number of important deals across the state, and the Northern California team continues to act on acquisitions for Intel and its new subsidiary, Intel McAfee. Other significant clients include Novellus, Hitachi, Clorox and Visa. In Southern California, recent highlights include representing Raymond James Financial in its $1.2 billion acquisition of Florida-headquartered Morgan Keegan.

Sources say: "I like that the team is responsive and able to address issues practically with experience-based solutions. The expansive global platform from which they operate gives us access to most of the specific expertise that is likely to become necessary."

KEY INDIVIDUALS San Francisco-based global M&A cochair Robert Townsend "is highly responsive and provides great client service," say sources. One market observer comments that he is a "highly tactical" M&A lawyer with deep expertise in Asian deals. Highlights include advising Novellus on its $3.3 billion sale to Lam Research.

San Diego partner Jay de Groot continues to represent SKINIT, most recently in its $8 million Series E financing.

San Francisco-based Michael O'Bryan has, since advising a special board of directors on taking 99 Cents Only Stores private in 2011, continued to advise the committee on potential deals in Northern California.

Stephen Thau has a strong life sciences practice, and recently acted on a $27 million Series B financing for TOPICA Pharmaceuticals.

Gavin Grover is "diligent and thoughtful," sources say, and offers "a great balance between providing the right legal counsel alongside practical business considerations." His highlights include representing healthy snack business popchips! in the sale of a majority interest to Belgian investment firm Verlinvest.

Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation - California

THE FIRM This compact team comprises two California partners and is split between offices in Palo Alto and San Francisco. Its forte lies in advising firms on employee benefits, executive compensation and ERISA matters arising out of sizable corporate transactions. The group is also developing a specialty advising clients on compliance with new healthcare laws. The team recently acted for Novellus System in its merger with Lam Research, a deal valued at $3.3 billion.

KEY INDIVIDUALS Paul Borden represents clients from a variety of industries, including aerospace, finance and technology. "He is really outstanding," states a market commentator.

Michael Frank is particularly active during M&A deals and attendant transactions. He recently represented Novellus System when it merged with Lam Research.

Environment - California

THE FIRM The environment group at Morrison & Foerster is known for its strength across the full spectrum of environmental matters, and is particularly active in the renewable energy sector. It currently provides environmental advice to enXco on its wind and solar developments, and on such matters as compliance with the California Endangered Species Act and the CEQA. The team also handles high-value litigation arising from a broad range of federal and state environmental statutes, including chemical regulation relating to consumer products and food and drink.

Sources say: "I wouldn't use anyone else – they're unbelievable! They can handle a lot of technical issues and I know of no better lawyers for air quality issues." "They're a big player and we use them when we need the heavy guns."

KEY INDIVIDUALS Market-leading environmental attorney Michèle Corash has a top reputation as a "brilliant strategist" with excellent knowledge of Proposition 65 regulation.

Michael Steel wins applause from market sources for being "very responsive, very insightful and very engaged – he had a good intuition for the government agency we were dealing with and what our organization was ultimately trying to achieve." He has been closely involved in advising Union Pacific Railroad on compliance issues for the modernization of an intermodal rail yard.

According to sources, Peter Hsiao is "an amazing lawyer who is really good at advocating your position in a professional way. He is a great strategist who has never steered me wrong." Clients also value his technical understanding provided by a background in chemical engineering.

Intellectual Property - California

THE FIRM This multiservice firm has a strong Californian presence, with IP practices in its Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco and Palo Alto offices. The team is known for both IP litigation and patent prosecution, particularly in the hi-tech and life sciences fields. Recent work includes assisting Genentech with the development of patent strategy and prosecution. The team also acted for Oracle on a high-profile patent and copyright infringement action against Google.

Sources say: "As big a firm as it is, they're very low key and approachable. The work is great."

KEY INDIVIDUALS Michael Jacobs is "a pillar of the Silicon Valley patent litigation community," with expertise in hi-tech and life sciences technologies. He recently represented Novell in long-running software copyright litigation, defeating damages claims of between $115 and $200 million.

Harold McElhinny focuses his practice on patent, trade secret and copyright litigation in the electronics and life sciences fields. Market commentators identify him as "a fabulous trial lawyer and a nice guy who has had some major successes." He recently obtained a summary judgment of invalidity for Nikon in relation to patent infringement claims brought by Anvik.

Rachel Krevans is a patent litigator with experience in a variety of electronic and life science technologies. Sources say she is "incredibly bright" with a "good reputation" in the market. She recently represented DISH Network/EchoStar at the Federal Circuit, achieving a summary judgment of invalidity ruling for the client.

David Doyle focuses on patent disputes in the pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical device fields. He is also experienced in cases involving electronics. He recently acted for Sandoz in a number of ANDA litigation matters, defending its products against infringement claims made by Allergan and Hospira, among others.

IT & Outsourcing - California

THE FIRM This team of highly esteemed practitioners meets with widespread acclaim. The firm's global sourcing and technology transactions group brings a wealth of expertise to complex deals, and is singled out by interviewees for the intellectual strength that hones its work product. The dedicated team attracts a host of high-profile clients such as Dreamworks Animation and Intel, with the latter instructing lawyers in a series of strategic acquisitions. The firm is particularly well known for its expertise in areas of high activity, such as social media and cloud computing.

Sources say: "They are very attuned to commercial realities and have a wide range of experience that is beneficial to their clients."

KEY INDIVIDUALS The "excellent" William Schwartz is singled out for his "encyclopedic knowledge of licensing law and agreements." An established presence in the field, he has wide-ranging expertise that includes strategic alliances and outsourcing transactions. Sources attribute his success to his "practical, experienced and really smart" approach. He has continued to represent Yahoo! in a series of transactions.

Paul Jahn is "a very strong strategist and negotiator" whose pragmatism and tireless dedication in complex deals impresses both peers and clients. Interviewees praise his responsiveness and attention to the commercial realities of business. Recent highlights include advising Intel on its acquisitions of QLogic Corporation's InfiniBand networking assets and Fulcrum Microsystems.

Rising star Aaron Rubin stands out to market commentators for his ability to explain legal terminology to the layperson. Sources note the "bright and detail-oriented" approach that produces "an excellent work product." The past year has seen him represent Dreamworks Animation on a joint venture in China.

Interviewees praise Tessa Schwartz's astute understanding of her clients' business needs. She is "exceedingly practical and smart about what really matters in a deal." An impressive breadth of practice sees her handle a range of transactions for both emerging and established clients, such as Catchlight Energy and McAfee.

Life Sciences - California

THE FIRM This highly regarded firm advises life sciences clients from its San Diego, Palo Alto and San Francisco offices. The team has an excellent reputation for IP matters, including patent prosecution, enforcement and counseling. As well as an active product liability litigation practice, the firm also has strong corporate capabilities, and can draw on in-depth expertise in early round financings. Key clients include Genentech, Novartis and Sandoz.

Sources say: "Morrison & Foerster has a really good reputation in this area."

KEY INDIVIDUALS Peers describe Gladys Monroy as a "stateswoman of patent prosecution" in California. Her practice ranges from strategy and patent portfolio management to interference, reexamination and reissue proceedings. She also undertakes due diligence evaluations and patentability analysis.

Catherine Polizzi assists clients with portfolio management and patent prosecution, as well as due diligence reviews and opinion work. Her experience takes in a broad spectrum of areas, including biologics, nanotechnology, drug formulation and nucleic acids.

Stephen Thau is a biotech specialist who offers clients "outstanding advice and timely follow-up." He has been highly active in venture financings of late, and also handles strategic alliances, licensing and public offerings.

John Campbell is a corporate attorney whose practice covers M&A, venture capital financings and public and private securities offerings. His client base includes various life sciences companies, investors and underwriters.

Sources name Kate Murashige as an "extremely distinguished" practitioner in the California life sciences industry. She represents clients in patent drafting and prosecution, and is seen as a thought-leader in biotechnology litigation.

Litigation - California

THE FIRM Drawing on excellent national and international resources, this litigation giant is a natural choice for big-ticket commercial and securities litigation. The firm continues to handle complex litigation matters, such as representing Capital One and US Bank in a major overdraft fee class action spanning several jurisdictions, obtaining a $21 million arbitration award on behalf of Marin General Hospital, and handling a $2.5 billion breach of contract dispute on behalf of EchoStar Satellite. It has also assisted clients with impressive securities matters, such as representing a Chinese automotive parts manufacturer in a class action involving insider trading and securities fraud allegations.

Sources say: "Excellent advocates. They demonstrate excellent judgment and a mastery of their subspecialties."

KEY INDIVIDUALS Arturo González is a "dynamic individual" praised for "reading judges well and bonding with the jury." He cochairs the firm's litigation practice and recently represented International Lease Finance and AIG in their suits alleging breach of fiduciary duty and trade secret theft.

Jordan Eth is championed by peers and clients for being "practical, thorough and experienced in the securities area." He is renowned for his prestigious securities practice and has a strong track record in advising public companies with SEC investigations and complex derivative matters. He recently handled a high-profile securities class action on behalf of Yahoo! involving Chinese regulations limiting foreign ownership of online payment systems.

Real Estate - California

THE FIRM The real estate practice at Morrison & Foerster places particular focus on workouts and restructuring work, representing major banks such as JP Morgan, Wells Fargo and Eurohypo. The group also has strong expertise in loan origination, and recently advised AMB Property Corporation on a $210 million portfolio financing and $160 million loan restructuring, secured by a portfolio of 26 properties in six states. Other key clients represented by the firm include Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Gramercy Capital and AREA Property Management.

KEY INDIVIDUALS Thomas Fileti is experienced in a variety of real estate finance transactions, with emphasis on the lease financing of corporate real estate assets. "He's a smart, cooperative and knowledgeable lawyer who pursues his clients' interests," say clients.

Marc Young chairs the firm's global real estate group. He undertakes high-profile work for investment banks, capital companies, commercial banks and mezzanine investment funds. According to sources, he is "a businessman's lawyer," and "very thorough and well respected."

The eminent Kim Seneker has extensive experience in California real estate law, from land use matters to complex financing transactions.

Sources describe Scott McPhee as "a practical lawyer who gets deals done, with expertise in tricky high-end lending." He represents investors, lenders, owners and developers on real estate financing matters including joint ventures and ground leases.

Tax - California

THE FIRM This extensive tax team enjoys a solid reputation advising clients on state and local tax matters especially. It also provides comprehensive advice on tax ancillary to funds, real estate and infrastructure, and M&A transactions. Besides a strong local client base, the firm serves many major names, including the likes of General Mills and Toshiba.

Sources say: "The team has excellent communications skills and the lawyers are able to explain highly technical issues within a nonlegal context."

KEY INDIVIDUALS Eric Coffill receives widespread praise thanks to his litigation skills in state and local tax controversy work.  

Appellate Law - Nationwide

THE FIRM This active firm remains a popular choice for appellate matters, and is particularly experienced in handling complex Supreme Court arguments. The team's impressive work includes achieving an 8-0 win before the Supreme Court in the closely watched RadLAX Gateway Hotel v Amalgamated Bank case, representing the latter party. 

Sources say: "I really think their performance is excellent, and they have consistently been very adept as attorneys."

KEY INDIVIDUALS Deanne Maynard chairs the firm's appellate practice, arguing an impressive number of cases before the Supreme Court and is deemed "very skilled" by market commentators. She has recently worked on behalf of Synovus Bank, Bank of America and NuVasive.  

Financial Services Regulation - Nationwide

THE FIRM Sources note that the strength of the Morrison & Foerster regulatory practice is its depth of knowledge and expertise in the consumer finance space. The team has been advising financial services giants including JPMorgan Chase, Capital One Financial and ING on the regulatory compliance considerations surrounding consumer product portfolios and transactional matters. It has been active in helping clients to comply with credit card regulatory requirements imposed by the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure (CARD) Act. It also draws upon the firm's broad international platform to advise non-US banking entities on US regulatory matters, notably gaining regulatory approvals on behalf of Bank of Communications, a Chinese financial institution, for a new West Coast branch. 

Client Service "They are easy to work with and they give great advice. They are always available and accessible when we need them."

Commercial Awareness "They have the expertise and depth to provide quick concise legal analysis for us to understand not only the legal aspects but also the political context."

KEY INDIVIDUALS Richard Fischer is described by sources as the "dean of consumer lawyers." He is "knowledgeable on both historical and current regulatory trends" and is "creative in his ability to ensure that you can get to the right answer." Fischer's particular forte is in the credit card arena and he has been advising Capital One on the new compliance requirements imposed by the CARD Act.

Oliver Ireland advises the firm's banking clients on regulatory compliance issues. He is considered to be a preeminent expert on consumer finance payment system issues, with sources noting that he has "superb insights" and moreover "helps us navigate a very complex regulatory environment and is an incredibly valuable resource."

San Francisco-based Michael Agoglia is an active and well-respected litigator practicing in the consumer finance arena. He is a former cochair of the firm's financial services litigation group and is noted for his handling of consumer class actions.

Respondents consider Los Angeles-based Henry Fields to be "experienced, knowledgeable and creative when it comes to regulation and M&A." Fields has particular strength in the West Coast market and is valued for his knowledge of "all the pitfalls and regulatory options and his ability to explain them."

Respected banking lawyer Barbara Mendelson provides regulatory counseling to domestic and international banks and assists clients to obtain necessary regulatory approvals in relation to transactions. She handled the aforementioned matters for the Bank of Communications.

New York-based consumer finance litigator Mark Ladner gains recognition for his expertise in the payment card and systems arena and is an accomplished consumer class action attorney.

Highly respected consumer regulatory specialist Leonard Chanin joins the firm from the CFPB, where he served as assistant director. He is tipped to be an important player and a future leader in regulatory compliance matters at a federal level.

Donald Lampe recently joined the team from Dykema Gossett. Lampe is considered to be a talented attorney who "really gets into the fight on issues." He represents a range of financial service providers on consumer regulatory matters, with a focus on mortgage-related compliance issues.

Intellectual Property - Nationwide

THE FIRM This large and distinguished practice group has a very strong market presence, above all in California and Washington, DC. The formidable IP litigation practice has been at the forefront of some of the most significant high-technology and life sciences cases: notably, it acted for Bayer HealthCare where a federal court found that certain patents were not enforceable against Bayer due to the principle of inequitable conduct. The case has attracted considerable attention. The group's accomplished copyright, patent and trademark prosecution and transactional resources are also well regarded.

KEY INDIVIDUALS Rachel Krevans and Michael Ward, both based in San Francisco, are the group practice heads.

International Arbitration - Nationwide

THE FIRM Morrison & Foerster maintains a notable presence in the international arbitration arena, and has core strength in trial advocacy skills. It has particular expertise in IP-related matters and disputes arising from the technology industry. It also has a particular focus on arbitrations involving Asia. The group recently represented SUSE Linux in an ICC arbitration against The SCO Group that involved claims of copyright infringement.

KEY INDIVIDUALS San Francisco-based James Schurz is a key contact.

Life Sciences - Nationwide

THE FIRM This multiservice firm has a strong West Coast practice in addition to offices in New York, DC, Denver and Northern Virginia. The team is particularly known for its work with Asian companies and US companies in the Asian market. In addition to IP and corporate capabilities, the firm also assists clients in product liability cases. Recent work includes representing Japanese company Terumo in the $2.6 billion purchase of CaridianBCT, the US medical device company.

Sources say: "They have made huge inroads into the Japanese market and are really considered leaders." 

KEY INDIVIDUALS Sources describe Kate Murashige as "the mother of biotechnology litigation" in California. An experienced life sciences attorney, she advises clients on patent prosecution, due diligence, opinion work and reexaminations.