By Don Southerton, Korealegal.org
Korea is quite an open market for many business sectors. Some of this naturally unfolded as the nation globalized. Some is the result of the IMF Crisis restructuring of the late 1990s and early 2000s. Some service sectors like legal remained a restricted and protected market–closed to international law firms. With pending FTA that will change. This Legal Week.com article heralds Korea’s changing legal landscape.
The International Bar Association (IBA) has announced the launch of an office in South Korea, marking the organisation’s first base in Asia.
The IBA will move into temporary accommodation in Seoul this autumn while new offices are built, with an expected completion date of December 2012.
The organsiation has two other international bases in Sao Paulo and Dubai, with an administrative office in the UK and specialist centres in the Netherlands and South Africa.
The announcement comes after the European Union formalised a free trade agreement with South Korea in February. The agreement, which will come into effect in July, gives European law firms the right to establish branch offices in the country.
IBA executive director Dr Mark Ellis said that the opening up of South Korea’s legal market to European law firms was a major incentive. “For the country to liberalise its legal market and to welcome the IBA’s new office are very good signs of how South Korea views itself internationally. It wants to compete and it isn’t afraid of competition,” he said.
“This office will establish the IBA’s presence more fully in the region, which means we will be able to focus more on regional issues and interact better with our members there – far more than you can from our administrative office in London. We can now rightfully claim that the sun never sets on the IBA.”
South Korean Bar Association president Peter Pyungwoo Kim commented: “We see the IBA’s decision to locate its Asian office in Seoul as a significant recognition of the important place of South Korea in the rapidly growing economy of East Asia. Coming at the time of the opening up of our legal market, we welcome it as a further real opportunity to strengthen international ties and understanding.”
Source: Legal Week.com