McDermott to Open Seoul Law Practice Following Trade Agreement

McDermott Will & Emery LLP will open an office in Seoul as a trade deal allowing U.S. law firms to practice in South Korea increases demand for international representation by Korean clients, the firm said.

McDermott, which advised Fila Korea Ltd. (081660) and Mirae Asset Securities Co. (037620) on the $1.23 billion acquisition of the Acushnet golf business from Fortune Brands Inc. (FO) in May 2011, is on “the leading edge of what promises to be a wave of new activity in South Korea,” Jeffrey E. Stone, the Chicago-based firm’s co- chairman, said in a phone interview.

“Due to legal restrictions, there has been little international law firm presence in South Korea,” Stone said. “Now when Korean companies become even more competitive worldwide, it will present opportunities that are powerfully aligned with many of our strongest practices.”

Stone said transactions, intellectual property and international trade will be the basis for the firm’s practice in the region. The Seoul office will focus on work that emanates from Korea, and will cooperate with the firm’s other 1,000 lawyers worldwide, he said.

For matters originating outside Korea, McDermott will work with local firms and serve as a “referral and cultural resource for our Western clients,” In-Young Lee, head of the firm’s Korea practice group, said in a phone interview.

Lee will head the Seoul office, which the firm said it expects to open in the next few months. Lee will be joined there by Paul J. Kim, who worked on the Acushnet deal, as well as a rotation of other McDermott lawyers. The firm will seek hire additional Korea-based lawyers over the next few months.

Local Alliances

The trade agreement, signed by South Korean lawmakers in November 2011, allows U.S.-based firms to advise on U.S. and international trade law and to enter local alliances with South Korean firms. Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP and Paul Hastings LLP (1135L) also have announced plans to open offices in South Korea following the signing of the pact.

McDermott had revenue of $825.5 million in 2011, a 4.7 percent increase from the previous year, according to the American Lawyer, a trade publication.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ian Thomas in New York at ithomas15@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net

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