It might fall into the category of “any excuse for a party,” but Morrison & Foerster opened the doors to its Northern Virginia office Thursday night for 200 to show off newly expanded and remodeled offices next to the Tysons Ritz, consolidated from the third and seventh floors to the third and fourth.
Those Asian noodles were terrific and all those IP attorneys (an office specialty out there in the suburban tech world) showed they definitely have a fun side.
MoFo Chair Keith Wetmore, above left, may preside over 1200 lawyers in 19 offices, but he flew in specially last night to be with his 50 attorneys in NoVa plus their clients and guests. With him, M&A colleague Lawrence Yanowitch and Freddie Mac attorney Andrea Bridgeman (specializes in anti-predatory lending). Keith’s been at the firm 25 years, headed it for 7, and travels 200 days a year, but we tested him and he very much seemed to know which office he was in and is very high on it.
He tells us he moved from San Francisco a year and a half ago to MoFo’s 190-attorney NYC office because NY offices have become so central for strong national firms. Keith says lawyers in New York don’t want to be joining what they perceive as a mere “branch office,” and that his presence there counteracts that. “MoFo will be MoFo in San Francisco whether I am there or not,” he says, “but my being in New York can help build the perception and reality of the importance of that office.” He points out that the firmwide director of recruiting is also based in NY, and that they are looking for a firmwide COO, who would likely be based there as well.
Mo Fo’s NoVa managing partner Brian Busey, center, with colleague Jack Lewis (right) and Hughes Network Systems GC Dean Munson. Jack’s been a legend for over 30 years as one of the original tech attorneys in the region, a reputation cemented just this week as he helped webMethod’s prospective new German parent clear a major CFIUS hurdle (thats Greek for foreign ownership regulations) to buying the once high flying software company. (Full disclosure: I used to head marketing at webMethodscongrats to Jack and everyone involved.)
As for Dean, he’s pretty excited these days about the launch of Hughes’ first owned satellite this August. They provide satellite Internet access (look on the roof of many gas stations around the country, and if you see a little Jetson-like dish, it’s likely theirs). This will give them a lower cost structure. Question: Will Dean get to go to French Guyana for the launch?
Here’s our friend Stacie Benes from Reznick Group surrounded by chivalrous hosts: from left, MoFo’s Adam Lilling, Brian Fletcher, and Brad Meier; Kazuto Iida of Sharp Electronics; MoFo’s Barry Bretschneider and Stacie’s colleague Christopher Reinholz of Reznick.
Factoid: Brian’s expecting his second child, and heard his/her heartbeat just last Friday for the first time. He’s a patent lawyer who’s hoping that if the baby comes as scheduled in November, they may be able to take him or her to the Tower Club for Christmas Brunch as they did last year with their two year old daughter. We’ll be crossing our fingers, Brian. As for Brad, he starts Tuesday at MoFo, just in from Kenyon & Kenyon.
By the way, this picture is evidence for Keith’s point to us that one of MoFo’s national strengths is a unique concentration of IP expertise. He also noted strength in finance and litigation and “unrivaled reach” across Asia: 65 attorneys in three offices in China and 85 in Japan, the biggest US office there. We shall place “Cover a party at the MoFo office in Shanghai” on our To-Do list.
Final factoid: Keith travels many of his 200 days with Chance, his 25 lb. Boston terrier. We asked him why he would name it after a competitor (Clifford Chance). He said a non-lawyer neighbor who knows his terrier recently asked him why a law firm called Clifford Chance would be named after two dogs.
Read more of Mark Bisnow at www.bisnow.com.