A significant amount of domestic activity in the Korean market over the past year has focused on the employment sector, in particular relating to the disputes arising from the jurisdiction’s singular ‘ordinary wage’ policies.
A number of class action lawsuits are currently pending before the Korean courts and the substantial retrospective wage pay-outs that could be ordered are potentially ruinous for small and medium sized companies. These companies are therefore choosing their counsel carefully, and many of the country’s biggest firms – including Lee & Ko and Kim & Chang – have been highly active in this area, as have Bae, Kim & Lee LLCYulchon, Yoon & Yang LLC and Shin & Kim.
Elsewhere, lawyers report a steady increase in outbound transactions and investment, fuelled largely by the importance the Korean government is now attaching to such activity. Korean companies are still mainly active in Asia and the US in this area, but European markets and projects are starting to be explored. There has also been a small spike in capital markets activity.
For foreign firms entering the market, the competition is stiff. A number are well positioned to compete with the domestic market leaders for cross-border corporate, banking and M&A work, but all are having to identify a USP to guarantee prosperity in the long term.
Firms in the spotlight
Kim & Chang
Kim & Chang is Korea’s largest and most specialized law firm and is widely recognized as Korea’s premier law firm. Since the firm was founded in 1973, it continues to advise the world’s leading companies and financial institutions. Based in Seoul, Kim & Chang is a full service law firm with over 1,000 dedicated professionals, including Korean, US and European licensed lawyers, tax lawyers and accountants, patent and trademark attorneys and industry experts and advisors
Yulchon is a full-service international law firm headquartered in Seoul, Korea. It employs over 360 professionals, including more than 60 licensed in jurisdictions outside of Korea. The firm’s perspective is international and its reach is global. It has represented clients from six continents and has helped companies expand around the globe. Yulchon strives to provide the most innovative solutions to the complex legal challenges confronting its clients.....
Cho & Partners
Cho & Partners was established in 2002 by two senior attorneys who decided to leave a large firm environment to create a more focused, efficient and responsive practice. Based on the reputation and capabilities of the founding members, as well as the established trust and loyalty of their clients, Cho & Partners was immediately active in representing multinational clients. The firm’s clients are among the most recognised names and leaders in various business sectors, such as software and technology, retail, luxury goods and fashion, and energy.
Shin & Kim
Now in its 34th year, Shin & Kim is one of the largest and highly regarded law firms in Korea. The breadth and depth of experience offered by over 400 professionals (including Korean and foreign attorneys, patent attorneys, tax attorneys, certified public accountants, customs specialists and other advisors) has kept the firm at the forefront of changes in the global financial market and the international business environment. The practice has expanded with the increase in intra-regional cooperation and investments, with Shin & Kim’s offices in Beijing and Shanghai providing comprehensive legal advisory services in China.