The Law Society consulted with members and stakeholders to submit a response to the Korean Ministry of Justice as they revise their Foreign Legal Consultants Act. These changes are part of a wider piece of work to amend local legislation as part of the third-phase opening of the Legal Services Market in South Korea.
President Andrew Caplen encouraged the Korean government to enact the third stage of market opening as outlined in the EU - Korea Free Trade Act in full, saying ’in our experience, an open legal services market is good for the local profession, and good for the wider economy.’ It is considered that gradual liberalisation of the Korean legal market has the potential to boost investment into the country and can offer South Korean corporations an opportunity to expand abroad.
Since the first stage of the opening up of the market, interest among English and Welsh law firms in South Korea has been on the rise. A number of solicitors have registered as Foreign Legal Consultants and some firms have set up offices there.
The final stage, giving the opportunity for Korean firms to go into partnership with English and Welsh firms brings new and exciting opportunities to the local profession, as well as enabling wider economic growth. In the UK, the legal services market now accounts for some 7% of the global market for legal services and contributes around £20.5bn to the UK Gross Domestic Product.
The Law Society has been supporting its members and legal service stakeholders in South Korea for over 10 years. It has also been actively representing the profession and promoting the use of English law. It regularly carries out joint initiatives, produces guidance on how to practise, to both members and Korean lawyers interested in learning English law and dual qualification.
From this work, the Law Society now benefits from having strong links with legal services stakeholders in the market. In particular, it works closely with its counterpart, the Korean Bar Association (KBA) with whom it has signed its third Memorandum of Understanding in 2012.
It is under this agreement, the Law Society and the KBA seek to deliver annual joint iniatives to bring the two legal professions closer together. In January this year, president Caplen visited Seoul on an English and Welsh legal services market visit and in October this year, the KBA president Ha will bring a senior delegation to the Opening of the Legal Year.
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