Litigation boutique Kobre & Kim launches in Seoul

Litigation boutique Kobre & Kim has become the latest foreign firm to enter South Korea, relocating co-founder Michael Kim to Seoul to lead the new office.

The US firm’s new Seoul office will focus exclusively on disputes and investigations. It has a model of working with other law firms as conflict and special litigation or investigative counsel and will follow this model in South Korea.

Name partner Kim, who was a former US Department of Justice prosecutor and is fluent in Korean, will be leading the team on the ground. The initial team in Seoul will consist of US qualified lawyer and native Korean Robin Baik and financial analyst Jean Kim. Elsewhere in the firm, there are more than 12 lawyers working primarily on Korea-related disputes and investigations.

Prior to the opening, Kobre & Kim has been active in Korea-related cases, particularly in its US government enforcement practice. It also represent Korean companies in litigation matters in London, Hong Kong, Cayman Islands and the British Virgin Islands.

Seoul will be the firm’s ninth office. Its Hong Kong office, which was established in 2010, recently expanded by launching a Hong Kong law practice with the hire of a partner from local litigation firm Gall.

Kobre & Kim’s latest launch comes two weeks after White & Case launched in Seoul with the relocation of current Korea practice head James Lee from Los Angeles. Latham & Watkins is also understood to be currently reviewing its options in South Korea with a possibility to open an office.

The past 18 months has seen several international firms setting up a base in the country, such as Milbank Tweed, Hadley & McCoy, Stephenson Harwood and Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom. Other firms have opted for local tie-ups, including EY Law’s alliance with Apex Legal, Taylor Wessing’s alliance with DR & AJU and Bird & Bird’s alliance with Hwang Mok Park.