Survey Results - Trainee feedback on Morrison and Foerster (UK) LLP

The lowdown - Trainees (in their own words) on Morrison and Foerster (UK) LLP

Why did you choose this firm over any others? ‘The technology focus, the small size and the variety of work’; ‘the culture – the people are friendly and approachable and there is a real emphasis on collaboration’; ‘small trainee intake’; ‘reputable clients’; ‘excellent vacation scheme and strong Japanese presence’; ‘you are encouraged to speak up and ask questions’; ‘approachable associates and partners’

Best thing about the firm? ‘The people’; ‘the culture’; ‘the people: partners, associates and trainees have all been really friendly and encouraging’; ‘because of the small intake, trainees get to work on a really broad range of tasks’; ‘you can be who you really are at work’; ‘you work in small teams so you get given very high-quality work’

Worst thing about the firm? ‘The computer systems are slow’; ‘sometimes it can be a little disorganised but that’s no biggie!’; ‘lack of transparency around seat choices’; ‘lack of proper infrastructure that comes with a smaller office’; ‘limited structure to the training contract’; ‘the seat rotation process’

Best moment? ‘Dinner at a Michelin-starred restaurant’; ‘when I started my corporate seat, two of the partners took the trainees joining the department out for lunch to get to know us’; ‘helping to conduct witness interviews for an internal investigation’; ‘being given technical research which required the use of my language abilities’; ‘presenting to a client about legal updates with my supervisor’

Worst moment? ‘Late-night due diligence’; ‘preparing signature blocks late into the night then having to redo them anyway the next day’; ‘thinking I had done everything completely wrong during a signing; it took my supervisor running through my checklist with me to prove that everything was as it should be’; ‘making very simple mistakes’; ‘being kept late on a non-urgent task’; ‘dealing with an associate who wasn’t very friendly!’

The Lex 100 verdict on Morrison and Foerster (UK) LLP

The firm: Morrison and 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 it has a team of around 130 lawyers in the strategic hubs of London, Berlin and Brussels.

The deals: Representing SoftBank and SoftBank Vision Fund in numerous groundbreaking transactions; acting for a senior individual in the ongoing SFO Petrofac investigation that is connected to the separate UK/US Unaoil investigation; advising Ares Management as sole term and RCF lender in respect of Searchlight Capital Partners’ investment in Global Risk Partners, a leading independent insurance intermediary; continuing to act for the liquidators in connection with the enormous and highly complex US$9.2bn liquidation/cross-border insolvency of Saad Investments Company Limited (a Cayman Islands company), seeking approximately US$400m in damages from Samba Financial Group (a Saudi Arabian bank); acting as lead advisor to Hassad Food, Qatar’s leading investor in the food sector, in its acquisition of a significant minority equity stake in Sunrise Foods International, the world’s largest supplier of organic grains and oilseeds.

The verdict

A ‘renowned expertise in technology’, the ‘staff I met during the vacation scheme’ and a ‘growing London office’ attracted trainees to Morrison & Foerster. ‘Everyone here is very approachable – even management’, remarked one recruit, a sentiment which was echoed throughout the feedback and has even earned the firm a Lex 100 Winner award in this category. MoFo’s impressive salary nabbed the firm another award. ‘The firm doesn’t require its trainees to conform to one type of personality’ and this appeased recruits who appreciate the encouragement to ‘be who you really are’ at work. Although training is less structured and the learning process ‘very on the job’, this makes for ‘greater flexibility’ and means that ‘you can get as much as you want out of your training contract’. Thanks to smaller teams, trainees are also exposed to ‘higher quality work’ and feel that they are ‘doing the jobs that a 2-3 year PQE would do at larger English firms’. ‘Working directly with a partner on a matter and creating the central issues list’ is an example. In short, trainees really do feel that they are ‘more in the loop about things’. The downsides of such responsibility are ‘periods of consistently late hours’, and instances of ‘sending out documents to a client in the early hours of the morning knowing I’d have to be back in around five hours for closing’! Other concerns were that the ‘culture can be different in different teams’ and that the firm’s growth has led to ‘some uncertainty for trainees’. But for ‘great clientele’, a ‘focus on the tech sector’ and friendly colleagues, apply to Morrison & Foerster.

A day in the life of… Joe Donaghey, trainee, Morrison & Foerster (UK) LLP

Joe Donaghey, Morrison and Foerster (UK) LLP

Departments to date: Corporate, capital markets

University: London School of Economics; University of Law

Degree: Law 2(1); LPC Fast Track (Distinction)

8.30am: I run in and so go straight to The Scalpel’s changing rooms. On my way up to the office, I bump into my trainee liaison and we agree to go for lunch once he returns from paternity leave. Once at my desk, I check my emails, update my to-do list and read the daily news briefings.

9.00am: We have a MoFo Academy session on enforcing court judgments after Brexit, provided by one of the partners in the litigation team. These trainings take place on a bi-weekly basis and are a good opportunity to ensure that we have a solid understanding of the basics, and breakfast is provided.

10.00am: My supervisor is in the office when I get back and we talk through my to-do list and capacity for the day. She also updates me on the longer term workflow… and her progress through the Netflix series I recommended.

10.15am: I am tasked by another associate in the department with drafting a set of certificates for a transaction which is closing next week. After discussing the draft with the associate, I am told to send them to the law firm representing the purchasers for their input.

12.30pm: Almost every day the trainees in my cohort eat lunch together on the 22nd floor so I head to Leadenhall market to pick something up. At lunch, we talk about the upcoming MoFo Happy Hour. These socials are a great chance to socialise with people from outside your department, and to catch up with the people I got to know during my previous seat in corporate.

1.00pm: While I was at lunch, a pro bono client has come back to me confirming they plan on changing their constitution and adopting the conflicts policy we drafted. I email the partner I have been working on this matter with to set out how I plan to draft the relevant board and shareholder resolutions, and when I believe I will be able to finish the task by. He replies that he is happy with my proposed plan and tells me to go back to the client confirming we will be able to send them a draft this week.

1.30pm: A client has returned the signature pack we provided to them and my supervisor has asked me to check that all the documents have been correctly signed and to collate the execution versions. Once I have done this, we run through the closing checklist I had drafted previously and make sure that our client has satisfied all the conditions. The only outstanding matter is to draft an email advising our client of the tax filings they are required to make.

3.55pm: I am taking the minutes for a pro bono client meeting at 4.00pm so I head up to our client floor early to chat with the client before the meeting starts. At the meeting are several QCs and a retired High Court judge and I am the only attendee from MoFo. Pro bono is a great opportunity to interact with clients face-to-face and develop the soft skills that are vital for a career as a lawyer.

5.00pm: On my way back from the meeting, I swing by the coffee machine to pick up a hot chocolate. Back at my desk, San Francisco is now online so I continue to work on a piece of research with them as I am responsible for collating their comments into the final draft.

7.30pm: After I have finished collating the research memorandum, I fill in my time for the day and check in with my supervisor and the other associates I work closely with to see if there is anything else I can do. I am told to head off and enjoy my evening.

About the firm

European managing partner: Paul Friedman

London co-managing partners: Alistair Maughan and Jonathan Wheeler

Other offices: Beijing, Berlin, Boston, Brussels, Denver, Hong Kong, London, Los Angeles, New York, Northern Virginia, Palo Alto, San Diego, San Francisco, Shanghai, Singapore, Tokyo, Washington DC.

Who we are: Morrison & Foerster is a leading global firm, with over 1,000 lawyers in key technology and finance centres in the US, Europe and Asia.

What we do: Bankruptcy and restructuring, capital markets, corporate/M&A, data privacy, employment, equity derivatives, financial services regulation, financial transactions, high-yield, investigations, disputes, arbitration, private equity, real estate, 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 our specialities of technology and finance.

What you’ll do: Trainees are given the support and training required to excel in their work, from trainee induction sessions, regular training via our MoFo Academy and significant daily responsibility.

Perks: 25 days’ holiday; pension; medical insurance; individual health plans; dental insurance; group life assurance; group income protection; employee assistance programme; Best Doctors; subsidised gym membership; childcare vouchers; My Family Care Benefit; season ticket loan; cycle scheme.

Sponsorship: Available to those who require it.

Diversity and inclusion

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. We’ve been a longtime champion for diversity within the legal profession and take pride in our diverse workplace. We believe that lawyers with different backgrounds, interests and experiences working together arrive at better answers and offer fresher perspectives. We continuously work to attract, develop and retain talented lawyers from diverse backgrounds. Our London partners Brian Bates and Trevor James sit on the firmwide diversity strategy committee, the primary mission of which is to recommend major diversity goals and objectives to our board of directors. We also have an active London diversity committee and a number of affinity groups.

Affinity groups

Globally, MoFo has over 30 affinity groups that provide support networks and programming for various employee groups, including 14 groups dedicated to BAME/communities of colour attorneys. In the London office specifically, we have affinity groups for LGBTQ+ members of the office, for women, and a newly formed group, MoFo Together, which focuses on raising awareness and addressing some of the barriers facing ethnic minorities in the legal profession and beyond.

Our senior female lawyers in London also play a role in the firm’s global women’s strategy committee, which works closely with firm leadership, including the firm’s chair, firmwide managing partners and board of directors, to ensure that the advancement of women is a constant strategic priority.

MoFo London’s active LGBTQ+ affinity group 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.