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.
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’.