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South Korea is making a steady recovery from the financial crisis, as evidenced by a notable increase in corporate transactions and IPOs. It is hoped that the free trade agreement between South Korea and the US, which came into force on March 15 2012, will lead to more robust inbound deal flow.
Foreign firms were recently granted permission to open offices in the jurisdiction, and this has led to a slew of applications. Allen & Overy, Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP, Paul Hastings LLP, and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP are the leading foreign firms operating on Korean deals, and all are expected to open offices by 2013.
Among domestic firms, Kim & Chang and Lee & Ko have the largest offerings, but other firms such as Shin & Kim, Yoon & Yang LLC, and Yulchon gathered momentum in 2012. Bae, Kim & Lee LLC also has a solid reputation, particularly for employment and litigation work.