Path to working in Seoul

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the lsat failure
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Path to working in Seoul

Postby the lsat failure » Tue Jun 13, 2017 3:43 am

Hi all,
I wanted to get some insight as to what the steps should be for someone who wants to work specifically in Seoul at a US-based office overseas, more specifically in Korea.
I'm sure the process is similar to other Asian countries, but I haven't seen a Seoul-centered thread in a while, and it has been a good amount of years since Korea opened its doors to US firms. I have ties being Korean-American (am not fluent enough to converse in legal language however) with family over there as well.
Do firms have overseas positions at OCI? Do I work in the US before trying to lateral over in the same firm or another firm? Any insight would be greatly appreciated.

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Re: Path to working in Seoul

Postby Mickfromgm » Tue Jun 13, 2017 8:00 am

I have never seen a US firm specifically recruiting for the South Korean office at the OCIs.

If I were you, I would look for a firm with SK practice (I presume there are a number of those), and send my resume to the head of the practice directly. Obviously, mention your connections to SK as well as whatever qualifications and interest that you have in working there (e.g., language skills, family, so on). If there is like a Korean-American bar association of [NYC] or whatever, I would definitely go network there.

Also, I would research American attorneys in a Seoul office of large US-firms who got educated in the US, and reach out to them (a huge plus if you share their alma matter, hometown, so on). A "research interview" via Skype would be extremely beneficial to you to learn an effective approach of getting a job there, and make real connections with people who can help you.

Some people I knew from law school: (i) one person, after working for a Korean firm (not sure, but maybe Kim & Chang??) for a while, he became a GC of a subsidiary of a SK conglomerate, (ii) another person, went to work for Coudert Bros. (are they still around?) in NYC to work on SK clients, and didn't last long because he probably exaggerated his connections in SK, and (iii) yet another, went to work for a Big 4 accounting firm in Seoul, as he had some tax/accounting background in addition to a JD.

Good luck to you.
Last edited by Mickfromgm on Tue Jun 13, 2017 10:14 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Path to working in Seoul

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jun 13, 2017 9:52 am

Aren't you a 0L? You shouldn't be posting in the Legal Employment forum if that's the case.

But in response to your questions before the thread gets locked:

1. Firms generally don't do separate interviews for positions in Seoul. I've only seen it happen once.

2. Definitely work in the US for at least 3-5 years before you make the jump. Seoul offices of US firms are still very small (mostly fewer than 10 attorneys, with one or two exceptions) and don't have the resources to train or make good use of a new associate. Your career development will likely be stunted if you go too early. If you can start out at a firm that has an SK practice, that's great; if not, pick a practice area that has demand in Korea and wait for a lateral opportunity to arise. Another alternative is to lateral to Korean biglaw.

I think the best way to get a feel for the market is to do your 1L summer at Kim & Chang or another large Korean firm. There's about 4 or 5 that regularly take 1L summers. Reach out to attorneys at those firms (a lot of them have JDs from the US) and those at Seoul offices of US firms also if you can.

I do think it has become harder to enter the Seoul market than before especially if you aren't completely bilingual, though. There's been a huge uptick in the number of native Korean JDs in the last 4-5 years that has far outstripped the growth of the Korean legal market itself, so firms going forward can afford to be a little pickier about people they want to have in Seoul.

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Re: Path to working in Seoul

Postby Capitol_Idea » Tue Jun 13, 2017 10:59 am

Moved to the "Ask a Law Student/Graduate" forum.

0Ls should post here and not in the Legal Employment thread.

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Re: Path to working in Seoul

Postby kartelite » Fri Jun 16, 2017 12:32 pm

Several Korean firms hire summer associates from overseas (they might call them summer clerks). I didn't have great grades, am not ethnic Korean, and got a summer offer as a 1L at one of the top firms (K&C, Yulchon). I can't remember if they were actively soliciting at our school or if I just emailed them about a position.

For the Seoul office of a US firm, you'd probably be targeting them as a 2L SA, and your two paths would be to mention in your cover letter that you're interested in Seoul-based positions or to email the local office directly about your interest. It might help to sell yourself if you had done your 1L summer at a Korean firm, refer to 1st paragraph.

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Re: Path to working in Seoul

Postby bluedot » Sun Aug 27, 2017 10:08 pm

Ditto to some of the posts above. Having work experiences in the US (ideally in a big market like NY/CA/DC) after getting your JD would significantly boost your chances of getting a biglaw/inhouse position in Korea. I know that some big Korean law firms hire recent graduates from T14, but that is still limited to very few firms (and very few students).

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