Korea plans July 2016 opening for European law firms

A revised draft of proposed laws by the Ministry of Justice will make Korea more fully open to European and American law firms in July 2016 and March 2017, respectively.

There are now about 25 US and UK law firms operating in South Korea SeanPavonePhoto

The revised Foreign Legal Consultant Act will allow foreign firms to go into joint ventures with local practices, hire local lawyers and even practice some local law. The opening for the EU and US reflects the fact that South Korea signed a free trade agreement with the EU in July 2011 and with the US eight months later.

Restrictions remain

A three-stage approach to liberalising the legal market has been taken in South Korea. Foreign firms were first allowed to set up representative offices, but were limited to providing consulting services on international law. The second stage allowed fee-splitting with local firms. The revised draft of the Foreign Legal Consultant Act has been submitted to implement the final stage, though there are still some restrictions on foreign law firms. For example, they are banned from owning a stake of more than 49 per cent in joint ventures, to protect the domestic market from being taken over by foreign legal giants. Source: Korea Herald

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