San Diego Business Journal

The law firm of Morrison & Foerster LLP expects certain things of Mark W. Danis.

It wants him to grow its relatively new San Diego office. It wants him to stand up for his clients in court. And it wants him to hold down the bottom line, preferably with all four strings in tune.

Danis, the managing partner of Morrison & Foerster's San Diego office, plays electric bass for the firm's in-house "garage band," the MoFonics. It's a job he's held for three years.

Danis is actually a late addition to the band. In a story typical of popular music literature, the band had a full complement of guitarists, so he took up the bass. Danis bought a Music Man electric bass and took lessons.

Now, on top of his other work, Danis has to practice for a gig later this month at a law firm gathering in Colorado Springs, Colo. "We're going to play the Broadmoor," he said expectantly, naming off other hotels where the band has appeared.

The MoFonics, which started playing satirical material at firm events, veered in a more commercial direction recently when it recorded "MOFO.com" , a tongue-in-cheek marketing jingle that, incidentally, is the name of the law firm's Web site. Here Web surfers can find an overview of Danis' work in intellectual property law. Or they can see a silly picture of eight lawyers hanging out on a sidewalk in postures like rock stars.

It's also a place where a person can hear the song. Alternating from shuffly to driving, the tune is punctuated by sax riffs, buzzing guitars and, in quieter moments, a violin. It's all built on the foundation of Danis' bass playing.

Song lyrics are printed on the Web site, too, accompanied by stern copyright warnings.

Are the MoFonics seriously concerned about somebody stealing their song? Doug Hendricks, firm partner and lead guitarist for the group, said the lawyers are merely practicing what they preach.

Hendricks, like most band members, is based in San Francisco, which is also Morrison & Foerster's home base. Incidentally, Hendricks said he knows of two other Bay Area law firms with bands.

Which brings up the question: Where exactly do the MoFonics stand in the long, great tradition of San Francisco music groups?

Hendricks considered the question carefully. "If they cast a large shadow," he said, "we occupy a small part of it."