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Law Firms Hiring More Former Judges

Posted October. 28, 2005 07:38,   


Korea’s Top-10 law firms have been hiring many former judges and prosecutors as lawyers over the past five years.

They are all high-level personnel, such as former Supreme Court justices, presidents of courts, public prosecutor generals, and public prosecutor superintendents.

In addition to advising companies, law firms are looking to expand their market share by hiring these lawyers with impressive credentials. These will help them acquire high-profile cases concerning owners of large corporations.

Legal sources say that since the opening of the legal market is close, it is inevitable that law firms are trying to expand their share of the market. However, some point out that many law firms are dominating the market too easily with these former officials.

According to a research conducted by Dong-A Ilbo based on the Korean Federal Bar Association and websites of law firms, we found that the 10 largest law firms, including Kim & Jang, Lee & Ko, Bae Kim & Lee, and Sejong, employed a total of 890 lawyers, as of July 1. Out of the 890, 240 (27 percent) were former court and prosecution officials. And out of the 240, 127 entered law firms after 2000. This means more former officials entered law firms after 2000 than in the 10-20 years prior to 2000. The reason for this is that many law firms are trying to expand their firms by bringing in these highly qualified lawyers.

As law firms expand, large cases follow-

In early October, when Samsung Motor creditors filed a 4.7 trillion won lawsuit against Samsung Group to recover debts, the board of creditors selected Bae Kim & Lee and Hwawoo to represent them. This lawsuit is considered to be the largest case in Korean history.

Kim & Jang represented the Samsung Group in the criminal trial last month in the District Court concerning the Everland CB transaction. Lee & Ko represented Samsung when 22 shareholders filed suit against chairman Lee Kun-hee and eight other former and current executives. In 2003, during an investigation into bribes paid during the presidential election, Hyundai Motor, LG, Hanhwa, Lotte, SK and other large corporations all hired large law firms to represent them.

Ji-Seong Jeon verso@donga.com