When free trade agreements with the European Union and the United States were passed last year, the market for international law firms in Korea opened. For the most part, British law firms with Korea practices are usually headed by lawyers from the United States instead of those from the United Kingdom. Before the free trade agreement with the United States and Korea was signed into law, these lawyers would not have been allowed to practice under Korea’s foreign legal consultant statute.
The first law firm from the United Kingdom to apply to open an office in Korea is that of Clifford Chance.
Hyun Suk Kim is the head of Clifford Chance’s Korea practice, who is qualified in the United States and works in Hong Kong.
“We have consistently indicated our interest in opening an office in South Korea, and we’re now going through the necessary processes to make this happen,” Clifford Chance’s managing partner for Asian operations, Peter Charlton, said.
Other law firms from the United States that have announced plans to open law offices in Seoul include those of McDermott, Will & Emery; Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton and Simpson, Thacher & Bartlett. Charlton mentioned that Clifford Chance was the only firm to have applied for the chance to open an office, according to the Korean Ministry of Justice. He then did not comment regarding how long it would take to open an office in Korea.