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Baker & McKenzie to create lawyer jobs in Seoul

Posted by: Laurence Simons 26/11/12

Global law firm Baker & McKenzie could begin offering legal careers in South Korea after applying for regulatory approval from the requisite authorities to open a new office in the country's capital, Seoul

The firm hopes to provide legal advice to a variety of different Korean clients, with Baker & McKenzie suggesting its global reach will ensure it can help businesses in the emerging economy extend their operation and presence.

Furthermore, its presence in energy-rich countries across the world ensures it can assist firms in the energy, mining and infrastructure sectors to get a piece of the action.

Eduardo Leite, chairman of Baker & McKenzie's executive committee, said: "Korean companies have been extraordinarily successful in expanding into international markets and we look forward to continuing to assist them with their outbound aspirations."

It seems likely that the company's experienced employees will meet this news with a jaded shrug rather than the unfurling of bunting and popping of champagne corks, given that the firm already has an extensive presence in the Asia-Pacific market.

Assuming the Korean authorities let the project go ahead, this will be the company's 15th office in the region, and its 73rd globally, giving it more international experience than a cynical foreign correspondent in a Graham Greene novel.

The new site will also be the sixth Baker & McKenzie has opened in the past 20 months, having previously checked Lima, Casablanca, Johannesburg, Istanbul and Doha off its long list of exotic locales.

Its expansion is unlikely to stop, either, with Mr Leite adding: "We will continue to invest where our clients need us, and to provide them with the skills and experience they need in areas with the greatest potential for growth."

Nam Hung Paik, a veteran transactional lawyer with 25 years' experience in the field, will take on the role of company representative in the Seoul office.

Baker & McKenzie isn't alone in its efforts to penetrate the Asian market, however, with global law firms looking to the continent as they attempt to extend their global links and offer lawyer jobs abroad.

The Asian Lawyer recently reported that almost 20 other international firms have applied for regulatory approval in Korea, or stated their intention to do so.

Big names such as Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, and Ropes & Gray have already been given the go-ahead and launched their Seoul operations.

With a report recently suggesting expat lawyer jobs are on the rise, fresh-faced young graduates hoping to transform into international men of mystery with cigarette holders and leather suitcases may get their chance for a big move overseas.