The Legal 500

Twitter Logo Youtube Circle Icon LinkedIn Icon
Work +82 2 732 5577
Fax +82 2 735 6866

Show all Press releases

"Boutique law firm / CHOI&KIM" [A maritime law firm with best quality in the world]

June 2009

CHOI & KIM, established in 1997 as a maritime specialist law firm, has successfully completed a recent case involving auction proceedings of vessels worth about US$1 billion. In a case where Cyprus registered 11 trawlers owned by “B” shipping company were arrested and passed to auction proceedings in the Busan District Court, CHOI & KIM, on behalf of the shipowner, succeeded in releasing the vessel from the arrest. By successfully completing this case of the highest claim amount in the Korean legal history, CHOI & KIM also succeeded in distinguishing itself as the top-notch maritime law firm.

Mr. J. H. Choi and Mr. C. J. Kim have been regarded as the best specialists in the Korean maritime law since they pioneered the field at Kim & Chang and Lee & Ko, respectively. It was the big news in the market that these two giants would jointly establish CHOI & KIM; even before they officially launched their business, one of the English P&I clubs consulted them. The fact that renowned P&I clubs such as Britannia, UK, Steamship, Standard, and Skuld became clients of CHOI & KIM showed the firm's reputation.

Mr. Choi's credentials are: Seoul National University (LL.B.); University of Michigan (LL.M.); admitted, N.Y. Bar; Seoul National University (Ph.D.). Mr. Kim's credentials are: Seoul National University (LL.B.); Kyounghee University (LL.M. & Ph.D.). Both have built up solid practices in the area of maritime, insurance, and international litigation law, with his various experiences in the prominent English law firms.

Other than these two founding partners, five attorneys are currently working at CHOI & KIM: Mr. C. W. Lee, who joined the firm since its establishment; he decided to join the firm while he was working at Lee & Ko, after he passed both the bar exam and the high-level government official exam. Mr. K. M. Moon was a president of student association in the Seoul National University. Mr. T. I. Kwon has been highly regarded in the legal industry. Foreign legal consultants include Ms. Kris So, a U.S. lawyer (Washington bar), and Ms. E. S. Kim, a Chinese lawyer. One of the of-counsels, professor K. H. Chang from Kyunghee University supports the theoretical part of based on his comprehensive scholarship on legal systems of Korea, England, Germany, etc. The other of-counsel, professor Capt. I. H. Kim from Mokpo Maritime University, consults practical aspects of ships and carriage of goods by sea.

These professionals are CHOI & KIM's assets which make the firm highly competitive against other major law firms.

[Representation of IOPC Fund]

CHOI & KIM aims to be a boutique firm specializing in maritime and insurance law. CHOI & KIM has been involved in almost all major maritime cases, such as "Master Marine", "Qingdao Express", "Atlantic Blue", etc. This outstanding success exposed CHOI & KIM to criticisms of its monopolization in the market. In particular, CHOI & KIM often represents shipowners in the matters related to P&I clubs. The firm also showed its strength in oil pollution cases, representing the International Oil Pollution Compensation Fund (IOPC Fund).

The cases CHOI & KIM was involved in on behalf of the IOPC Fund are as follows: "Sea Prince" worth US$300 billion (off Yosu, July 1995), "Honam Sapphire", "Yuil No. 1", and so on. IOPC Fund appointed CHOI & KIM as the exclusive representative lawyer in Korea and had them in charge of the entire process of a case from investigation to litigation. It is one of the important schedules to have meetings with lawyers from CHOI & KIM whenever Mr. Jacobson, the director of the IOPC Fund, visits Korea.

The reason behind CHOI & KIM's success is reasonable legal fees as well as the prompt handling of the matters based on its professional and international experiences. Basically, CHOI & KIM's fee is charged on hourly basis, no matter what the claim amount or the scale of a case is. CHOI & KIM, the best maritime and insurance law firm in Korea, is also preparing itself for the international market.

[Interviews/ Mr. J. H. Choi and Mr. C. J. Kim]

Ø What was your motivation to specialize in maritime law?

Mr. Choi: When I started my legal career at Kim & Chang in 1984, I wanted to challenge a new field. Considering the large scale (No. 8 in the world) of Korean shipping industry and the fact that 98% of cargo transportation in Korea is conducted through sea carriers, I was convinced that the demand on the maritime law would be consistent.

Mr. Kim: The nature of maritime matters which often involve complicated disputes was well-fitted on me. Therefore, I asked Lee & Ko to build a team specializing in the field, which Lee & Ko accepted. That was the beginning of my career as a maritime law specialist.

Ø Why foreign clients keep using the service of CHOI & KIM?

Mr. Kim: Our strength compared to other big law firms is the quality feedback with promptness. We are also proud of charging reasonable fees.

Mr. Choi: It will be because each lawyer at CHOI & KIM was fluent in English, which is a basic requirement in shipping business, and well-trained by our through-program.

Ø Does CHOI & KIM have own strategies to improve its competitive edge?

Mr. Kim: We are focusing on the recruitment process to select a best-qualified person for our firm.

Mr. Choi: We offer every lawyer with a five-year experience at CHOI & KIM an opportunity of studying abroad, to promote the firm's competitiveness through individual development. Besides, the firm covers certain portion of every staff's educational expenses, such as language, license, or fitness classes.

Ø What are CHOI & KIM's future plans?

Mr. Choi: The firm has settled earlier than we expected. Our ongoing plan is to establish the firm's identity as maritime-specializing law firm and improve the firm to international level.

Mr. Kim: Maritime and insurance law area needs expertise. We wish to deepen and strengthen our expertise, and serve the clients' best interests.

To the writer, the goal Mr. Choi, looking delicate and scrupulous, and Mr. Kim, looking full of vigor, are chasing after does not appear to be too far away, because they are dwelling in the same nest where one is the supporter of the other.

Legal Developments in South Korea

Legal Developments and updates from the leading lawyers in each jurisdiction. To contribute, send an email request to