We’ve been asked about this issue from U.S. lawyers or U.S. law school students quite often. As reported earlier this month, the Foreign Legal Consultant Act was approved by the National Assembly. The Act allows law firms from the United States and countries which have free trade agreements with Korea to set up local branches to provide legal consulting services.
However, in order to qualify as local consultants, foreign firms will not be allowed to hire locally qualified lawyers. Foreign lawyers cannot be self-employed consultants, practise local law or represent clients in court. Lawyers will need to have at least three years’ overseas work experience. Those with two years’ local experience will have to work overseas for a year and, after qualifying, all lawyers will be required to commit to living in Korea for at least 180 days a year.
Please note that the Act is not likely to cause an immediate changes on Korean legal market, as the status of FTAs signed with various countries are still pending.
Here is a related article.