FilterSan Diego, CA
I worked at Morrison & Foerster full-time (More than 5 years)
Good training; interesting work; excellent facilities; fun social activities; cohesive departments; desire to keep staff involved.
During one point, there was a lot of attorney turnover. Because the firm is so large (over 1,000 attorneys), there can be a lack of direction and consistency between different areas of the firm.
Advice to Management
I worked at Morrison & Foerster (More than 5 years)
The overall benefits are quite good.
Mofo is constantly patting itself on the back for its diversity and open door policy. It is all lip service.
Advice to Management
Quit trying to be like every other large firm and pave the way like the leader you claim to be
Once upon a time it was a congenial place to work. Staffers, associates and partners were at the same social scale in San Diego. Eventually the firm snobbery of only considering hiring associates who graduate from top 10 law schools trickled down to the respect credited to the staff
Medical benefits are hard to beat. Options include at least 2 HMO style plans plus a PPO. Firm was covering 100% of employee elected plan plus 75% of cost for dependents of elected plan.
Firm does profit sharing vs. 401(k) match which has typically translated into better contributions.
Plenty of free parking at San Diego office!
All decisions to replace staff are highly scrutinized. Please note that I am pointing out that the REPLACEMENT of employees is raked over the coals. The management is not asking to add more staff, rather they are asking to fill a role already necessary to provide exceptional client service that has become available via attrition.
HR is regional at best and seems to be more and more San Francisco/Palo Alto centric. Why does the opinion of someone in HR (in PA or SF) have way more influence in hiring decisions than those people on the front lines who will benefit from the hire? Completely ridiculous.
Why haven't I seen a single review that blames the introduction of Pat Cavaney as the CEO or whatever he is as the lynch pin that transformed MoFo from a life center to a profit center. Not to say it doesn't suck for a MoFo equity partner to see a PPP go from 1.2 million to 1.05 million, but that 150k is 5 under appreciated, under recognized, under compensated staffers salaries WITH bonus for the year. If my salary gets cut 10% in a year, I can't afford my mortgage. If Pat and his cronies lose 10%, there goes the pool on who can dabble and pick the best stock on Ameritrade. Pat C. is a sharp guy who has no clue how to run a law firm. Why would I say this you ask. Okay...when the only real product that you sell is excellence, and the ultimate goal, as Pat puts it, is to "delight the client", does it behoove you to slash support staff who are integral in providing the level of service that "delights" clients? I guarantee that the 5 - 10 hours of OT per staffer required to make sure each client is delighted with the service they receive is way less costly than A) losing a client over the inability to meet the client's needs, B) being sued by a client because an attorney becomes accused of malpractice because she did not have adequate staff support, or C) watching client expectations being compromised to prop the PPP. Back when this firm was Partner run by the lifeblood of the firm, it was truly an exceptional place. Today, it might as well be listed between ModusLink Global Solutions, Inc. and Mohawk Industries, Inc. on the NASDAQ exchange.
Advice to Management
If your actual goal is to hire and retain top talent, get loose of the restriction of those matrices and remember that they call it "an exception" for a reason.
MoFo hires fantastic staff who are (mostly) well qualified and strive hard to provide excellent service, and usually exceed the standards of the Industry. This makes them a pleasure to work with. They have good benefits as well.
The attorneys who work in the offices are all fantastic as well. Good people, work hard, some of the best there are. They are committed to community service.
Sadly their commitment to the community does not flow down below the attorneys in their own firm.
MoFo pressures staff to provide more work than can be done in the time allotted. They routinely, over a period of years go short staffed and don't bring in assistance until it is critical. Their commitment to saving costs causes immense stress for employees who end up working unreported overtime to do the oversized jobs (and if you make a mistake you get a sit down formal discipline meeting and it goes in your personnel record).
Management does not properly allocate work loads based on docket size, creating unreasonble workloads that do not match inustry standards as a result (1 secretary and 6 attorneys in litigation). After cutting back on staff this year, they held staff meetings to tell the survivors to pick up the slack, and told them to also provide even MORE excellent service to increase. After impossible tasks are put in front of staff, the raises have bee non-existant to minimal for the last several years. Only 1 or 2 staff members in San Diego are allowed to get excellent reviews, so they work very hard to tell excellent workers they are average. Which is bizarre because their hiring focus is on locating excellent individuals. It's demoralizing.
After hiring the excellent workers and getting work above and beyond the call, they are told in their annual reviews they are average or below average to avoid pay raises appropriate to the level of work actually being provided, rather than recognizing that they have an excellent group. Yes, 10 individuals CAN provide excellent work. If you go to work there, don't count on raises. On top of being busy, now the staff have to take time to document every good thing they do through the year and put it in their self review, because their raises depend on it, further taking time from an already busy schedule.
It is, in my opinion, a very unprofessional and unhealthy work environment.
The company routinely wins awards for being a "Best Place to Work" in San Diego. It's because the HR people award eachother. When these awards are announced the staff starts sending out e-mails .... did they ask you? "Well, they never asked us if it's so great", because the answer would be no.
Advice to Management
Don't just talk the talk of the great work place, walk the walk. Try annonymously asking the non-attorney staff if it is a good place to work and why or why not. Acknowledge that if you have 20 people doing excellent work, that you have 20 people doing excellent work, even if there is only one doing average work, and be proud that you have such a fantastic group of people working there. Stop telling employees to do more work and better, but with less time. Operate it as a law firm and stop trying to conform a law firm to corporate standards, it's a different type of animal.
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