US firm McKenna Long chooses Seoul for first Asia launch

US firm McKenna Long & Aldridge (MLA) has opened a base in South Korea, its first Asia office.

MLA has received regulatory approval from Korea’s Ministry of Justice to open a foreign legal consultant office in Seoul. It is the latest foreign firm to have obtained a licence, joining over a dozen US rivals such as K&L Gates and O’Melveny & Myers (15 November 2012) in South Korea’s capital city.

MLA’s new office will be led by partner Andrew Park, who is based in Seoul. Park’s practice focuses on cross-border transactions and intellectual property matters. Prior to joining the firm in 2001, he practised for seven years at Kim & Chang, one of Korea’s largest law firms.

“The opening of an office in Korea is a natural evolution for the firm to expand our capabilities in order to meet clients’ needs,” said MLA chairman Jeff Haidet in a statement. “We understand the Korean market and have more than 50 years of experience in government contracts and regulatory matters that are part of many complex international commercial transactions. We’re looking forward to leveraging new opportunities for our clients throughout the United States and Korea.”

MLA has over 575 attorneys and public policy advisors in 16 offices.

Under the Korea-US Free Trade Agreement, US firms will be permitted to form alliances with Korean firms or enter into cooperative agreements to provide advice on Korean law in 2014. By 2017, they will be able to hire native Korean attorneys.