Squire Sanders joins US firms’ Korea race

Squire Sanders has applied to open an office in Seoul after the Korean Ministry of Justice officially started accepting US firms’ applications yesterday. 

Squire Sanders, together with Paul Hastings and Ropes & Gray (6 March 2012), submitted a preliminary application for a Seoul office on 6 March, the first day US firms could officially file applications with the Korean Ministry of Justice.

Squire Sanders’ Korea plans are being led by partner Joon Yong Kim, who will be head of the new office, and corporate partner Edward Ghiyun Kim. Both partners will relocate to Seoul from Tokyo. 

“The opening of an office in Korea is a logical next step in our commitment to develop and grow our long-standing presence in the Asia Pacific region,” said James Maiwurm, Squire Sanders chair and global CEO in a statement.

The firm opened its first Asia office in Hong Kong in 1998 and established its Tokyo and Beijing offices in 2000, followed by a Shanghai opening in 2004. Last year it expanded its presence in the Asia Pacific region by launching an office in Perth, Australia with 80 lawyers joining from Minter Ellison’s Perth office (18 August 2011). Most recently, the firm hired the managing partner of Bryan Cave’s Singapore office for its Singapore launch (16 February 2012).

Apart from Squire Sanders, Paul Hastings and Ropes & Gray, McDermott Will & Emery is also understood to be filing a preliminary application. McDermott first announced its Korea plans in February (14 February 2012). Other US firms with confirmed plans to launch in Seoul include Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, Sheppard Mullin and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett.

The Korea-US Free Trade Agreement, ratified last November, will come into effect on 15 March 2012.