Kim & Chang earned estimated revenues of 500 billion won ($440 million) last year, of which 200 billion won came from patent applications, according to estimates made – and information gathered – about revenues of the biggest Korean law firms by business news website InvestChosun.
With Korea’s legal market now opening up to foreign law firms, attempts are finally being made to put a number on the total value of the market, with many estimates putting it at between two and three trillion won.
Bae, Kim and Lee came in second with a declared 170 billion won, while the remaining members of Korea’s “Big Five” law firms all topped the 100-billion-won mark. Shin & Kim and Lee & Ko each earned 135 billion won last year, and Yulchon brought in 115 billion won. A Shin & Kim spokesperson told InvestChosun that its 2011 revenue was “the largest amount since the incorporation of the law firm.”
These figures may not seem massive amounts compared to the $2.27 billion earned by Baker & McKenzie in 2011, but they are indicative of a market with a significant amount of potential. It is with this potential in mind that foreign law firms from Covington & Burling to Squire Sanders have been queuing up to open an office in Seoul.
Meanwhile, Yulchon topped the table of firms with the highest revenues per lawyer; its figure of 605 million won was closely followed by Bae, Kim & Lee with 580 million won. ALB
Ranajit Dam is Southeast Asia Editor at ALB. Follow him on Twitter: @RanajitDam_ALB.