Posted on March 12, 2009 at 9:03 PM
As the Korean legal market opened to foreign law firms last week on March 2, 2009, US firms are closer to gaining the market than UK firms. The reason is that this opening of the market only applies to those countries that have an active free-trade agreement with South Korea. The US signed one back in 2007, though the US Congress has not yet ratified it. The EU is in talks with Korea, but apparently an agreement is highly unlikely. Thus the only countries are those who are part of ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) and Chile have an active FTA with Korea. The market liberalization has three stages: 1) Allowing firms to open up representative offices in Korea 2) Joint ventures 3) Full liberalization. US firms that are most likely to consider opening a representative office during this first phase of liberalization include Baker & McKenzie, Paul Hastings Janofsky & Walker, Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, Sidley Austin, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld and Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe.
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