Change from the Top

Morrison Foerster hosted its second biennial Change from the Top diversity and inclusion event at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco on October 10, 2019.

Change from the Top invites CEOs and general counsel from organizations across various industries to join MoFo partners in sharing best practices around diversity and inclusion. The program is designed to provide a unique opportunity for leaders across industries to discuss some of the biggest challenges they face in including diversity, LGBTQ+, and women in the hopes of helping organizations create and sustain more inclusive work environments. The program included three breakout session topics:

  • Diversity and inclusion in an increasingly global context
  • Diversity within the talent pipeline: from recruiting to board membership
  • Inclusion and how to promote/sustain a culture of allyship within your organization

These workshops covered concrete steps that organizations are taking to diversify their workforce, and the implications of the new California board - diversity requirements. The program featured author Safiya Umoja Noble, who presented on “Algorithmic Bias” — the problem of bias influencing artificial intelligence and other systems that rely on algorithms — and what organizations are doing to identify and reduce that bias.

The steering committee for Change from the Top 2019 included:

MoFo’s inaugural Change from the Top event took place on January 30, 2017, in the firm’s New York office, with more than 100 CEOs and corporate executives in attendance. The event looked at ways in which corporate leaders can champion diversity within the organization, addressing such questions as: how to define diversity within a global context, how can we close the gender pay gap, and what best practices to follow to support diverse, LGBTQ+, and women talent in industries where they are underrepresented.

diveristy events
diveristy events

MoFo’s 2018 Diversity Summit

Since the early 1990s, the firm has hosted biennial professional development workshops designed for our U.S.-based attorneys of color and, in 2014, were expanded to include LGBTQ+ lawyers. The workshops gather diverse, LGBTQ+, and women associates from across the firm’s domestic offices for a two-day program of professional development, diversity-related trainings, speakers/panels, and opportunities to build firm relationships and network. They also provide an occasion to update associates on firmwide diversity, LGBTQ+, and women’s initiatives and solicit feedback. Past workshops have explored topics such as understanding and uncovering implicit bias, improving communication skills with clients, and building your personal brand.

Putting Our Stories to Work

The 2018 Diversity Summit welcomed over 130 MoFo lawyers and staff to celebrate the personal stories and narratives that make us unique. The theme, “Putting Our Stories to Work,” represented how we use storytelling to draw connections among our colleagues and clients. When we bring our whole selves to work, we enrich our collective experience and become stronger. At MoFo, our diversity is the reason for our success.

The two-day event explored personal journeys to partnership, successful mentor/sponsor partnerships, and professional development, with features such as business development sessions on building your network and pitching to clients, and effective communication workshops.

Welcoming Wetmore Fellows and LGBTQ+ Bay Area Associates

Something unique to the 2018 Summit was the special track created for the Wetmore Fellows and diverse, LGBTQ+, and women Bay Area associates. Fellows and summer associates were asked to develop a pitch for the MoFo Foundation to donate money to a nonprofit of their choosing. The winning Fellow, Jamis Barcott, who summered in our LA and SF offices, won $5,000 for the Indian Law Resource Center (ILRC), a law and advocacy organization established and directed by American Indians. Runners-up Michelle Sosa-Acosta, a 2L from our SF office, and Amanda Sadra, a 1L Fellow from our LA office, each won $2,500 for College Track, a nonprofit helping low-income high school students attend college, and Los Angeles’ Downtown Women’s Center, an organization that fights homelessness among women, respectively.

Client and Alumni Reception

Also new to the 2018 Summit was the client and alumni reception hosted after the first day of the Summit. Associates enjoyed networking with local clients and alumni, and MoFo alumnus and chair emeritus Keith Wetmore had a chance to meet the 2018 class of Wetmore Fellows, a program initiated under his leadership in 2012.

diversity summit figure

The Summit provides an opportunity for cross-practice networking for MoFo's Purvi Patel, Craig Martin, and Cynthia Akatugba.

diversity summit

MoFo’s Craig Martin, Dean Atyia, Trevor James, and Anna Erickson White enjoy the Dogpatch WineWorks reception.

Out Leadership

Our LGBTQ+ lawyers across the firm actively participate in Out Leadership, a global advisory organization dedicated to driving LGBTQ+ equality and creating business opportunities for emerging leaders.


We encourage our “rising star” LGBTQ+ attorneys to participate in the OutNEXT Global and regional summits, which include multi day leadership development trainings designed specifically for the next generation of LGBTQ+ leaders.