Two U.S. Law Firms Open Office In South Korea, 14 Others To Follow
Two American law firms; Sheppard Mullin and Ropes & Gray have already setup their offices in South Korea and at least 14 other American and British law firms are in the process of finalizing their plans for their own Korean branches.
Sheppard Mullin has opened an office in Seoul and partner Byoung Soo Kim will be heading it. Last month Ropes & Gray announced the opening of its Korean office which will be headed by William Yongkyun Kim.
The rush by American and British firms to set up shop in South Korea is a result of the U.S.-South Korea free trade agreement that came into effect in March this year after finally being passed by the U.S. Congress in October 2011 and the Korean parliament in November 2011.
As per the agreement, for an international law firm to open its office in South Korea, it first needs to get the approval of the South Korean Ministry of Justice and the Korean Bar Association for an individual attorney to work as a foreign legal consultant. Then the approved lawyer can sponsor his firm before both the agencies. The firms however will still have certain limitations in regards to what kind of law they can practice. Most of the limitations will end in 2017.