Top firms set for South Korea launch

By Candy Ikokwu

26 September 2012 at 12:42 BST

Four of the global legal sector's key players are set to receive licences to launch in South Korea today, as the country continues to open its markets to international firms.

Seoul: four firms to receive green light

New York’s Cleary Gottlieb and Chicago-based McDermott Will & Emery will be granted approval to launch representative offices, Legal Week newspaper reports. Los Angeles firm Paul Hastings and Cleveland-based Squire Saunders are to be given the go-ahead to establish foreign legal consultant offices in Seoul, which takes the total tally to nine of foreign firms allowed to practise in the country in some capacity. A further seven applications are awaiting approval.

Three-stage process

According to the report, opening local offices is the first of a three-stage process for liberalisation set down by the South Korean Government at the free trade agreement signing in October 2010. The second stage – set for July 2013 -- will permit foreign firms to enter ‘co-operative agreements’ with Korean firms. The final stage -- set for July 2016 -- will see EU firms able to invest in local practices and recruit Korean lawyers.
The newspaper quotes Geoffrey Green, managing partner of London-based Ashurst, on the lure of Korea. He describes the jurisdiction’s clients as being ‘sophisticated’ and, perhaps most importantly ‘continuing to spend money outside their domestic market’.


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