Top int’l law firm eyes Korean legal market

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Top int’l law firm eyes Korean legal market

Following the stream of U.S. law firms with their eyes set on the Korean legal market since the ratification of the Korea-U.S. free trade agreement last October, top firm Ropes & Gray announced plans to open an office in Korea yesterday.

Ropes & Gray, founded in 1865 and specializing in intellectual property law, will file a preliminary review to practice in Korea today, which is also the first day that foreign firms and lawyers can file for review of their applications with the Ministry of Justice.

The firm’s Seoul attorneys will mainly concentrate on representing Korean companies in intellectual property disputes facing U.S. courts.

Korean-American William Yong-kyun Kim, 55, and David San-rak Chun, 39, partners at Ropes & Gray, will head the Seoul office.

“We have a fully functioning Korea team, with more than 30 lawyers of Korean heritage, that has advised Korean companies on many IP cases, litigations and corporate transactions,” said Mr. Kim, who from 1993 to 1997 served as General Counsel and Managing Director of the Daewoo Group of Companies in Korea. Seoul will join its three other offices in Asia - Hong Kong, Shanghai and Tokyo. The firm has ten offices worldwide.

Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, a leading international law firm headquartered in New York, was among the first to confirm plans in December to open an office in Seoul in 2012, its fourth Asian office. Other U.S. firms including Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, Paul Hastings and Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton have also confirmed plans to launch in Seoul as soon as this year.

By Sarah Kim []
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