Keith C. Wetmore has been reelected to a second term as Chair of Morrison & Foerster, a position he has held since October 2000. In the three years under Mr. Wetmore’s leadership, the firm has added offices in key markets in the U.S. and Asia, while once again becoming the largest law firm in California.
“I wish that all our decisions were as easy as asking Keith to continue as firm-wide Chair,” said Stephen S. Dunham, the Denver-based partner who preceded Mr. Wetmore as Chair and now serves as a member of the firm’s Executive Committee. “Under Keith’s leadership, we have expanded significantly in key international financial and technology markets, while maintaining our strength in California. We also have seen significant expansion in the strategic practice areas of capital markets, finance, litigation and trial work, and intellectual property despite the challenging economic and market conditions.”
Within the U.S., Morrison & Foerster has expanded on both coasts, opening new offices in Southern California and Northern Virginia, and advancing its presence in the New York banking and corporate finance market. In parallel with this domestic expansion the firm has made rapid advances in Asia. The firm’s Tokyo office remains the largest Tokyo office of any U.S.-based law firm. In August the firm opened an office in Shanghai, complementing its long-established Beijing office in mainland China. A harbinger of its substantial Asian presence is the selection of Morrison & Foerster as the international legal counsel to the Beijing Organizing Committee for the XXIX Olympiad in connection with its activities for the 2008 Summer Games.
“It’s gratifying to receive the vote of confidence from my partners, and I’m looking forward to another term,” said Mr. Wetmore. “Going forward, the firm will take advantage of opportunities for market expansion where it makes strategic sense. We will also continue to explore new practices that enhance our core strengths in technology, litigation, intellectual property, and finance. We are very well positioned to chart new growth in all of these areas as the economy continues to recover — and we see considerable business ahead internationally, in Asia, but also in Europe and elsewhere.”
At the same time, Nicholas Spiliotes, a partner in the firm’s Washington, D.C. office, has been selected to head the firmwide Business Department, which encompasses 10 practice groups. Mr. Spiliotes succeeds San Francisco partner Robert S. Townsend, who had headed the department since September 1996. Mr. Townsend continues his active practice representing public and private companies in corporate and finance matters, including M&A transactions and seed round to public financings. He regularly advises CEOs and Boards of Directors in strategic and corporate governance issues.
Under Mr. Townsend’s leadership, the Business Department has also been involved in several transactions that represent historic milestones. Among them was the firm’s completion in November of 2000 of what was then the largest technology merger on record — optical-technology giant JDS Uniphase’s $41 billion acquisition of SDL, a maker of fiber-optic network lasers. In December of last year, the firm represented Hitachi in its $2.05 billion acquisition of IBM’s hard disk drive business. At the time it was the largest cash acquisition of a U.S. business by a Japanese company since the early 1990s.
Mr. Spiliotes joined Morrison & Foerster in 1988 and became a partner in 1993. His practice concentrates on international project finance and cross-border corporate transactions in emerging markets. He has particular expertise in the power and telecommunications sectors, and is currently serving as lenders’ or investors’ counsel on projects in Turkey, Afghanistan, India, and Colombia. Within the firm, he served as Managing Partner of the Washington, D.C. office from 1995 until 1997 and as a firm-wide Managing Partner for Operations from 1997 to 2000. Most recently, he heads the firm’s 40-lawyer Project Finance and Development practice group.