This figure means that Korean law firms cannot afford to concede international corporate legal services entirely to foreign companies.
Moreover, it is true that client loyalty to indigenous law firms is not solid. Therefore, in order not to repeat Japan’s history, Korean law firms need to offer its attorneys more extensive opportunities for overseas training and professional development.
At the same time, Korean law firms certainly need to improve benefits and performance-based bonus payouts.
Also, they should expand foreign branches not only in Asia but also in western countries, and increase affiliations and exchanges with local companies. In the end, the only way to survive is to prepare an advanced platform to offer comprehensive legal services.
Legal education at law schools needs to be drastically globalized. Law schools tend to prefer students with extensive knowledge and experience in Korean law to raise their bar acceptance rate, but such an admission practice should be changed.
In the age of globalization, it is common sense that the most elite students receive the most globalized education and are offered more opportunities to work in the internationally competitive legal services markets.
The opening of the legal services market as a result of the free trade agreement with the European Union means a return to that common sense for both the legal advisors who have comfortably settled into the old system, and the global companies, who had no choice but to be provided with long distance services.
We hope this common sense resonates with the last remaining sanctuary of the country’s most sheltered industry - the educational services market.
*Professor Choi Won-mog is a professor in the School of Law, Ewha Womans University and the current Director of WTO Law Center. He was also the Editorial Board Member of Journal of International Economic Law in Oxford, Indian Journal of Int’l Economic Law in Bangalore, Law and Development Review in Sydney, Beijing Law Review, and other law related publications.