New York - The Korean Ministry of Justice this week granted final approval of the application of global law firm K&L Gates LLP for a foreign legal service office in Seoul, the capital of the Republic of Korea. Pending registration with the Korean Bar Association in the coming weeks, K&L Gates’ Seoul office — the firm’s 42nd office worldwide and seventh in Asia — will be formally launched in January 2013. K&L Gates is one of the first U.S.-based law firms to avail themselves of the benefits of the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement, which, upon becoming effective in March 2012, opened the Korean legal market to U.S. law firms for the first time.
“We very much appreciate the expeditious processing of our application by the Ministry of Justice,” said Peter J. Kalis, K&L Gates Chairman and Global Managing Partner. “Korea’s economy is one of the largest both in Asia and throughout the world. The country’s export-fueled growth of the past decades has led to the more recent, and increasingly robust, trend of foreign investments overseas by its companies and financial institutions. We believe that our Seoul office will provide these outward-looking Korean business enterprises, wherever their destinations may be, with ready access to the resources of a single law firm that is both global and local at the same time.”
Current K&L Gates New York partner Eric Yoon will serve as the Seoul office’s chief representative. Yoon has practiced law for more than 20 years in the areas of financial services regulation, mergers and acquisitions, financing, and private equity investments. David K.Y. Tang, K&L Gates’ Managing Partner, Asia, commented: “We are truly excited to expand our global platform in this way. Korea is one of the few countries in the world that possesses both widely distributed wealth (in the form of a high per capita GDP) and a large, well-educated population base. We look forward to utilizing our Seoul office as a portal to facilitate the continuing growth and globalization of Korea’s economy.”
In August, K&L Gates announced combination talks with Australian national law firm Middletons, which, if approved, would expand K&L Gates’ global footprint to a fifth continent as well as significantly bolster the firm’s presence in the Asia-Pacific region to more than 400 lawyers across 11 offices, including Beijing, Brisbane, Hong Kong, Melbourne, Perth, Seoul, Shanghai, Singapore, Sydney, Taipei, and Tokyo. With Korea as one of Australia’s largest trading partners, K&L Gates’ new Seoul office represents a particularly important development in the firm’s continued expansion in the Asia-Pacific region.
K&L Gates includes lawyers practicing out of more than 40 fully integrated offices located in North America, Europe, Asia, South America, and the Middle East, and represents numerous GLOBAL 500, FORTUNE 100, and FTSE 100 corporations, in addition to growth and middle market companies, entrepreneurs, capital market participants and public sector entities.