O’Melveny & Myers is joining the queue to open an office in South Koreas, on the heels of the country’s recent free trade agreement, which is opening up the legal market to international firms. We’ve already seen Covington & Burling, Squire Sanders, Ropes & Gray and Sheppard Mullin look to enter the Korean legal market and we expect at least three more to follow O’Melveny before the end of the year. As to OM’s plans:
“The firm is hinging its plans in South Korea on two laterals, Sungyong Kang and Jinwon Park, who both recently joined O’Melveny as of counsel in the firm’s Hong Kong office. Kang was most recently a partner at Korean law firm Shin & Kim, and Park an adviser at engineering consulting company Idea Consultants. The pair, who are licensed to practice law in the U.S., specialize in cross-border investments, corporate transactions, mergers and acquisitions, international trade, and international arbitration.
Several other major law firms have already begun the lengthy approval process required to get an office in South Korea up and running, including Ropes & Gray, Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, Paul Hastings, Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton, McDermott Will & Emery, Clifford Chance, and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett.
Earlier this week, Ropes & Gray announced that its partner William Kim became the first lawyer certified as a foreign legal consultant in South Korea. As outlined in an Am Law Daily story last week, such certification is one of a number of approvals needed by the South Korean Ministry of Justice and Korean Bar Association to open there.
The free trade agreement — ratified in November and put into effect earlier this year — dictates that for the first several years, firms opening in South Korea will be allowed to practice the law of their home country as well as international trade law; starting in 2017, foreign firms will be allowed to merge with South Korean legal outfits and hire local lawyers.”
Read the full article at law.com…
Thoughts on who’s next?