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? ‘It had a more fun and personable culture’, ‘the work and the people’, ‘a small trainee intake with increased responsibility’, ‘the commitment to pro bono work really stood out to me’, ‘technology focus, small teams, international work, lots of responsibility early on’, ‘West Coast culture’, ‘everyone is really friendly and inclusive and people are genuinely friends with each other, which creates a collaborative and supportive atmosphere’

Best thing about the firm? ‘The people and the culture’, ‘some amazing people work here’, ‘the quality of the clients and plenty of responsibility from day one’, ‘the people you work with actually take the time to help you learn and improve’, ‘diversity’, ‘the people, who are approachable and willing to take the time to explain matters to trainees’, ‘because of the small intake, I get to work directly with partners and associates on a broad range of tasks’

Worst thing about the firm? ‘No choice of first seat’, ‘the hours can be tough at times’, ‘the document saving system can be slow and cause the computer to crash’, ‘small size means things aren’t always organised or prepared in advance as I guess they would be at larger firms with bigger graduate recruitment/support teams’, ‘seat selection process and the overwhelming presence of split seats’, ‘high turnover of staff’, ‘the training contract and seat allocation process could be more structured and transparent’

Best moment? ‘Post-closing celebrations’, ‘directly working with clients to guide them through Brexit’, ‘the litigation team social where we were split into teams and did an ‘escape the room’’, ‘getting good feedback on a task’, ‘a supervisor reaching out directly after a particularly busy period to thank me for my hard work’, ‘closing a transaction that I had worked on from term sheet to closing, where I was heavily involved in several aspects of the deal’, ‘preparing for and attending a trial in the height of the pandemic’

Worst moment? ‘Spending a day researching a topic to find that there isn’t an answer to the question’, ‘the occasional weekend work’, ‘running redlines on identical documents’, ‘moving seats, which I found overwhelming at first due to the change in team dynamic and the nature of the work’, ‘making simple mistakes which should have been avoided’, ‘repeated late nights’, ‘continuously producing redlines, without any substantive involvement in transactional work’

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

Known for technology focus, small teams, international work and lots of responsibility, Morrison & Foerster – commonly referred to as ‘MoFo’ – is highly regarded for its approach to training. A Lex 100 Winner for its salary, MoFo has many of the characteristics of a US-headquartered global firm, such as the long hours and higher pay scale, but with ‘small teams and the ability to work with clients in the technology and innovation sector’. The firm has an ‘approachable’ culture where trainees feel like ‘they fit in, and people are from diverse backgrounds’. In terms of training, trainees comment that it is ‘more on the job’ and ‘less formal seminars, etc’. One trainee says that ‘it seems like we are given more responsibility due to the size of our intake, and generally more opportunities to learn and interact with senior associates and partners’. Trainees applaud their colleagues who are ‘approachable and willing to take the time to explain matters’ and feel they are ‘encouraged to contribute to business development ideas’. Plus ‘trainee input is valued in billable, pro bono and non-billable matters’. Negatives include the long and ‘uncertain’ hours, plus seat allocation ‘could be more structured and transparent’. Training highlights included ‘preparing and attending trial in the height of the pandemic’ and ‘the litigation team social, which allowed me to get to know partners and associates in a more casual way’. One trainee comments on the ‘fantastic’ pro-bono programme’, saying that ‘I’ve been able to pick up so many different projects – from IP law to contract law to data privacy law’. A tech power player, MoFo is popular with current trainees and worth investigating.

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 the firm has a team of around 130 lawyers in its strategic hubs of London, Berlin and Brussels.

The clients: SoftBank Group Corp; official committee of unsecured creditors of Valaris PLC; Ares Management; Infobip Ltd; Santander; Tate & Lyle PLC; Facebook; Vonage Holdings Corp.

The deals: Advising SoftBank on the $40bn sale of UK-headquartered multinational semiconductor and software design company Arm to NVIDIA; representing the official committee of unsecured creditors of Valaris Plc and its affiliated debtors in their chapter 11 cases and parallel UK administration proceeding; advising on multiple corruption- and fraud-related investigations in the UK and throughout EMEA, and globally; representing an IT services provider in relation to a complex matter in the UK covering public sector contracting, criminal law, internal investigations, third-party audits, government queries and potential litigation; 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; advising Infobip Limited, a global communications platform as a service leader, in a major strategic investment from One Equity Partners, a New York-based private equity firm, which made Infobip the latest UK technology company to attract a unicorn valuation, one of the largest European software Series A rounds in recent years; representing a client in its defence of a high-profile data privacy representative action brought in the English High Court; assisting an investment affiliate of KKR, the world’s third largest private equity firm, and its asset and development management partner, Mirastar Real Estate Investment Management Limited, on the acquisition of development land in Essex and its proposed development into a major new logistics facility to be known as Arterial Park; advising LIVEKINDLY Collective, a collection of heritage and start-up brands on track to become one of the world’s largest plant-based food companies, on its acquisition of No Meat, Iceland Foods’ vegan meat alternative company with products currently available in Iceland, Asda and Ocado in the UK.

A day in the life of... Sam Jeffreys, trainee, Morrison and Foerster (UK) LLP

Departments to date: Private equity real estate; Real estate finance

University: University College London BPP University

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

8.30am: I cycle in and so go straight to the bike storage racks and changing rooms in the basement of The Scalpel. Since the easing of lockdown restrictions, we have been able to access the office. I have enjoyed being back in the office, for at least one day a week, over the last month. It has been great to see colleagues (from a distance of course!). Once at my desk, I check my emails and to-do list for the day.

9.00am: The associate in my team and I have been working closely to prepare ancillary documents for a private equity investment in a new data centre development. The deal is closing at the end of the week and the structure has changed slightly so I am instructed to update the board and shareholder resolutions and new articles of association accordingly. Once finished we send the documents to the partner for review.

11.45am: I have been working with my supervisor on the grant of a new lease for office space for a pro bono client. The lease has completed and I now have to compile certified copies of the original signed documents ready for filing at the Land Registry. I call the client to find out when we might expect to receive the signed pages at the office.

12.15pm: The Scalpel is well located in the centre of the City so there is a wide array of options for lunch. I walk through Leadenhall Market towards a deli I like to pick up a sandwich from. After eating, I head back to the office to have a catch up call with a fellow trainee where we talk about what work he has got on, his plans for the summer and his upcoming qualification.

1.00pm: I receive a task from my supervisor relating to a deal that closed earlier in the month. She asks me to update the company registers for several entities to which I had been appointing new directors via Companies House earlier in the week.

2.30pm: Once a week everyone in the team joins a weekly update and training call. This is an opportunity for the partners to feed back on new pieces of work that they have and any new clients that may be requiring help in the coming days. As part of the call, a different team member each week will also provide a half-hour training session on a recent change in law or recent case that is relevant to the department. These meetings offer a valuable learning opportunity and are always well attended by trainees and associates in the team.

3.30pm: After the meeting I head to the kitchen to grab a coffee and a piece of fruit. I have been tasked with preparing a bible of all documents relating to a recent matter. The electronic files are ready to be printed and collated so once back at my desk I email the document production and office services teams to ask for their assistance in preparing the hard copy and USB bibles.

4.05pm: One of the partners in my team has asked me to prepare a research note on special purpose acquisition companies, also known as ‘SPACs’. The firm does a lot of work in this area in the US and Asia and there has been a request from a client for information regarding the use of such vehicles in the UK. I pick up my draft where I left off earlier in the week, proofread my work and get this over to the partner.

6.45pm: I close down my time for the day and check in with my supervisor and the other associates in my team to see if there is anything else I can do to help. 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, Los Angeles, New York, 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, 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. We value diversity, have a strong commitment to pro bono and want our future trainees to share this philosophy.

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. This combination enables our trainees to develop the necessary skills to deliver exceptional client service on complex global matters. The training period consists of four six-month seats, with the potential of a seat in our Singapore office. There is an active mentoring programme and a formal review process four times annually to provide continuous support and development.

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 practise 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; medical insurance; individual health plans; dental insurance; group life assurance; group income protection; employee assistance programme; free Calm app subscription; Talkspace; 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 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 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 attorneys 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 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.