Clifford Chance pulls out of Korean venture following tactical review
Confined to practising only international law, the existing scenario was considered to be too restrictive as the expected liberalisation of the South Korean legal market did not happen
The UK Magic Circle firm Clifford Chance has decided to close its Seoul office following a strategic review. The firm felt that being confined to practising only international law was too restrictive.
Clifford Chance had become one of the first international law firms to set up an office in South Korea after free trade agreements were approved between the EU and the US in 2011 and 2012 respectively. This held out prospects of a steady liberalisation of South Korea's legal market. This, however, did not happen resulting in Clifford Chance closing shop in Seoul nine years after it had entered the South Korean market.
Clifford Chance is among the four UK law firms with licences to operate in Seoul. Allen & Overy, Linklaters and Stephenson Harwood are the three others. In all, 29 international firms have a presence in Seoul, the majority of them belong to the US.
Among them, Simpson Thacher and McDermott Will & Emery have already pulled out of Seoul while several others have preferred to serve the market through their South Korean desk based in other countries.
Clifford Chance said in a statement that clients would be best served through its network of lawyers across the firm who had extensive experience in Korea, as well as through its relationships with the leading Korean law firms.
"South Korea is home to some of the world's most dynamic and important international companies. We look forward to continue to serve our Korean clients on the full range of practices and sectors throughout our global network as we have done for more than 40 years," Clifford Chance said in the statement.