The influx of Western law firms in South Korea continued today (2 February) after local authorities rubber stamped Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy’s launch in Seoul.
The US firm follows its compatriots Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom; Ropes & Gray and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett in opening in the country’s capital. Young Joon Kim, who managed what was a nascent Tokyo office in the six years to 2003, has been drafted in from the firm’s Hong Kong outpost to carry out government agency work in the country. The firm advises on large project financings which are supported by export-credit agencies like the Export-Import Bank of Korea (K-Exim) and the Korea Trade Insurance Corporation (K-Sure).
Over 20 US and London-based law firms have applied to open in South Korea since the country opened up its borders in 2012 to lawyers wanting to be licensed to practice. The office is the firm’s twelfth and fifth in Asia.
‘We are delighted to establish our newest office in Seoul and to have a permanent, central address from which to serve our many Korean clients as well as international companies doing business in Korea,’ said Milbank chairman Scott Edelman.
‘Given the extensive working relationships we have inside Korea’s public and private sectors, it will be a great advantage to have a full-time office closer to our clients – and to better coordinate with our offices globally,’ he added.
Kim, who studied in South Korea, noted that the office will result in ‘new opportunities for work on transactions, as well as potentially in disputes and general business advice’.