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“General Manager Kim, Did You Consult With the Judicial Affairs Team?”

“General Manager Kim, Did You Consult With the Judicial Affairs Team?”

Posted May. 27, 2005 03:38,   


Major groups such as Samsung, LG and SK have recently included “law-abiding education” to their new recruits and workers who are promotion candidates.

It includes pre-reviewing and learning law related issues that might arise in business activities. The education is carried out by the judicial affairs division of groups or affiliated companies.

Domestic major companies’ judicial affairs divisions are changing. As companies grow into global companies that compete against the world, the judicial affairs division’s duty is changing from “accident coping” to “prevention.” Their status is also getting stronger.

The fact that the introduction of a collective securities law suit system is just around the corner and that the laws they have to take care of are getting difficult, such as product liability laws, are the reasons for the stronger judicial affairs division.

Samsung “Acquires 300 Lawyers”-

Korea’s representative company, Samsung, has a forceful judicial affairs team as well. There are 10 lawyers only in the group restructuring division and there are more than 20 lawyers in Samsung Electronics.

Samsung expanded its restructuring division’s judicial affairs team into a judicial affairs office last July and announced the appointment of Lee Jong-wang, former Supreme Public Prosecutor’s Office’s director of investigation planning, as its permanent law adviser and director of its judicial affairs office, a presidential-level post.

Yoo Seung-yeop and Lee Myung-gyu, once prosecutors of the Seoul district prosecutor’s office and Suwon district prosecutor’s office, are working as the deputy general director of restructuring division’s judicial affairs office and the Samsung Heavy Industries’ chief of judicial affairs office respectively.

There are 110 lawyers now working with the Samsung group, of whom 40 percent are US lawyers. This shows that there are many international conflicts concerning law. Chairman Lee Kun-hee is known to order, “If there are able people, scout not only judges and prosecutors but also lawyers working in law firms.”

The group plans to increase its number of lawyers to 300 in long term. They will recruit lawyers publicly every year. Moreover, they are determined to invite able lawyers.

The LG Judicial Affairs Team That Successfully Launched a Holding Company-

In the judiciary affairs team at a holding company, LG Co., there are nine law-related people including former judge Kim Sang-heon, who is the vice-president, and former prosecutor Lee Jong-sang, who now is deputy general director. In the whole group, there are 28 lawyers. If including non-lawyers, there are 100 workers on the judicial affairs team.

LG Co.’s judicial affairs team has been evaluated highly for successfully treating the complex law issues that arose in LG group’s holding company launching process.

As they managed the company division well and handled corporate splitting, tender offer and merger issues that are unfamiliar law issues in Korea, they were benchmarked by other companies such as Nongshim in the holding company changing process.

The team also contributed in brand trademark conflicts such as winning the brand infringement case that a Chinese elevator parts manufacturer filed against LG.

SK Group Strengthens Judicial Affairs Team for Management Rights Protection-

The SK Group recently increased the size of its judicial affairs team. The cause was the threat to its Management rights from Sovereign Asset Management Ltd.

SK newly opened a business ethics department, which directly reports to the president, in June 2004, and announced Kim Jun-ho, who worked as chief of Central Investigation Department 3 in Supreme Public Prosecutors’ Office, as its vice-president level chief. Vice president Kim graduated from the same high school as SK chairman Chey Tae-won: Sin-il high school, and was three years senior to Chey at Korea University.

In the law support group under business ethics department, there are deputy general manager Kang Sun-hee, the former administrator of the presidential secretariat for judicial affairs department, and deputy general manager Kim Yoon-ook, a former prosecutor at the Seoul district prosecutor’s office. Furthermore, SK Telecom announced Nam Young-chan, a former Supreme Court trial researcher, as its judicial affairs team chief in March, and SK Construction scouted Yang Jung-il for the position of deputy general manager.

A judicial affairs team is divided into two parts. One supports normal business with the law, and the other treats business rights-related issues, such as general meetings of shareholders and the board of administration.

Young-Hae Choi Sang-Soo Kim yhchoi65@donga.com ssoo@donga.com