Republic of Korea International Trade in Legal Services

Republic of Korea International Trade in Legal Services

HOME COUNTRY LICENSING QUESTIONS

Is there legislation governing the legal sector

Attorney-at-law act 2000 (as amended)

Under what title do lawyers practise?

??? (byeonhosa) - attorney at law

How does an individual lawyer obtain a "licence" to practise law? How often must this be renewed?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To become a licensed lawyer in Korea, a candidate traditionally was required to pass the Korean Bar Examination and have completed the two year training course at the Judicial Research and Training Institute.  A new qualification system was introduced in 2009 with the enactment of the Law School Act. Under the new system, to become a licensed lawyer in Korea, a candidate must complete a graduate level law school program (3 years) at an approved university in Korea and have passed the Korean Bar Examination (new). The first candidates seeking to qualify under the new system will graduate from law school in 2012.  The two systems will operate concurrently until 2017 when the traditional qualification process will be phased out.  Any person who has qualified to become a licensed lawyer and wishes to commence legal practice must register with the Korean Bar Association. Applications for registration must be submitted to the KBA through the local bar association with which the applicant intends to be affiliated.
The referring local bar association may comment in writing to the KBA on the applicant’s eligibility for registration

The two systems of qualification will operate concurrently until 2017, when the traditional qualification system will be phased out.

Does this entitle the holder to practise throughout the country? If the law license only permits one to practice on a sub-national level, please explain the jurisdictional limits

Yes

 

 

Are there certain activities that are "reserved" to those who are licensed to practise law in the jurisdiction?

Only Korean lawyers have rights of audience in court and can provide advice on the law of Korea

Do you need to hold local nationality to be eligible to practise law?

No

What legal forms can lawyers work in? (e.g. self employment, partnership, limited liability partnership, multi-disciplinary partnership, incorporation)

Lawyers may work as sole practitioners, or in general or limited liability partnerships or in limited liability companies.

What other ethical or regulatory requirements must a licensed lawyer comply with? 

The Korean Bar Association has issued a code of ethics

Do law firms need to receive a "license" (or permission/approval) to practice law?

Korean lawyers must register their practising address with the Korean Bar Association but there is no explicit law firm licensing regime.

Which authority issues licences? Are there different authorities for individuals and firms? 

Licences are issues by the Korean Bar Association but an individual must register first with their local bar association.

   

INDIVIDUAL FOREIGN LAWYERS

Are there any explicit rules or restrictions other than visas on fly in fly out practice of law? Ie. Do you need to obtain a licence for temporary practice?

There are no explicit rules on fly in fly out visits by lawyers to visit clients but remunerated work must not be undertaken in Korea without a work permit which in turn requires registration as an FLC.

Can a foreign lawyer obtain a visa to visit clients or to market but not to practice?

Foreign nationals must have a work visa in order to work in Korea. Work visas are usually valid for up to three years, starting from the date of issue.  Lawyers may however obtain visas to visit Korea but must state clearly on their application forms the purpose of their visit.

Can a foreign lawyer obtain a licence to establish and practise as a foreign legal consultant and what is the scope of this limited licence?

A foreign lawyer may obtain a licence to establish and practice as a foreign legal consultant (FLC). FLCs may only provide legal services with respect to: the laws and treaties of their country of license;
universally approved international customary law; and international arbitration proceedings whose applicable law is the law of their country of license or international public law and the jurisdiction of the arbitration is the Republic of Korea. The registration process is two stage: First an application needs to be made to the Ministry of Justice and following its prior approval an FLC may register with the Korean Bar Association.

Are there any conditions that must be fulfilled once a foreign lawyer has been granted a limited licence (e.g. residency requirement)

An FLC must reside in the Republic of Korea for at least 180 days each year.

Are there any conditions that must be fulfilled for a foreign lawyer to qualify for a limited licence? (e.g. prior practice)

In order to qualify as an FLC, a lawyer must have a license to practice law in a country which is a party to an FTA with the Republic of Korea and a minimum of three years of experience in providing legal services in the country of license.

Are foreign lawyers permitted to undertake arbitration and mediation? FLCs are permitted to take part in international arbitration proceedings whose applicable law is the law of their country of license or international public law and the jurisdiction of the arbitration is the Republic of Korea

Are foreign lawyers allowed to appear in court under any circumstances?

No

Can foreign lawyers requalify as local lawyers?

In theory, although only by undertaking the full domestic route to qualification taken by a Korean lawyer.

FOREIGN LAW FIRMS

Can a foreign law firm obtain a licence to open an office?

Yes a foreign law firm must obtain a licence to open a consultancy office in Korea.

Even if a foreign law firm does not require a legal licence must they register in some form in order to set up an office? (e.g. with a ministry of company affairs etc)

Foreign legal Consultancy Offices will need to follow the additional requirements to be followed by every business following their approval and registration by the MOJ and KBA.

Are there different types of foreign law firm 'licence'  (e.g. Joint Law Venture, stand alone foreign licence etc)

The authorization and registration criteria to establish an FLCO include:
the FLCO’s head office has been established and operating for more than 5 years in a country that is a party to an FTA with the Republic of Korea;
A Foreign Legal Consultancy Office (FLCO) may only take the form of a representative office (as opposed to a branch office) providing advisory services in foreign law. The FLCO’s head office shall guarantee the full discharge of all civil and commercial liabilities related to the FLCO’s practice in Korea, provide evidence of insurance to cover the damages which may arise in connection with the operation of the FLCO; and
appoint a Foreign Legal Consultant with at least seven years of experience as lawyer as the representative of the FLCO.

Is there a quota on the number of licences available?

No

Are there geographical restrictions on foreign firm licences or on the number of branches a foreign firm can have?

No

Are there "scope of practice" rules that apply directly to foreign law firms (as opposed to lawyers themselves)? (e.g. home, host, international law), if so, what are they?

The scope of practice for the Foreign Legal Consultancy Office is the same as for the FLC.

Are there restrictions on the corporate form a foreign law firm can take? The FLCO must be a representative office only.
Are there rules about the name a foreign law firm can take? Foreign Legal Consultancy Offices must follow the provisions on naming in the Foreign Legal Consultancy Act
What entity grants a 'license' to a foreign law firm? If that entity is on the Internet, please provide the URL The Ministry of Justice issues licences to foreign law firms (http://www.moj.go.kr/HP/ENG/index.do) which must then register with the Korean Bar Association (http://www.koreanbar.or.kr/) before commencing operations.
   

EMPLOYMENT AND PARTNERSHIP

Are there restrictions on the ownership share of foreign lawyers in a law firm?

Foreign Lawyers are only permitted to own foreign legal consultancy offices which must be 100% foreign owned.

May a domestic lawyer be employed by a foreign lawyer or law firm?

No

Can a domestic lawyer enter into partnership with a foreign lawyer?

No

Can a domestic lawyer or domestic law firm employ a foreign lawyer?

Yes although only as FLCs.

   

OTHER USEFUL LINKS/SOURCES

Other useful sources or comments or links

Korean Bar Association: http://www.koreanbar.or.kr/eng/