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Herbert Smith Freehills to wind down Seoul office

BigLaw firm Herbert Smith Freehills, which has six offices across Australia, is shutting its office in Seoul after a decade in the South Korean capital and is establishing a new-look Korea group.

user iconJerome Doraisamy 21 February 2023 Big Law
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Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) will wind down its physical presence in Seoul, having determined that — “given the exclusively international nature of our work” — the interests of the firm’s clients will be best served, moving forward, by a new approach.

In a statement issued on Monday, 20 February, HSF said that the firm has established a group “with deep Korea expertise”, drawn from across the firm’s global network, thereby allowing it to shutter its office in Seoul.

The new Korea group, the firm said, will be led by current Seoul partners Mike McClure, who will relocate to London, and Dana Kim, who will relocate to Hong Kong.


Group members will visit Seoul as required by clients and matters.

Some of HSF’s staff in Seoul are set to relocate to other network offices, while others will be leaving the firm.

The news follows the expansion into Korea by fellow BigLaw Ashurst, which — Ashurst global chief executive Paul Jenkins told Lawyers Weekly — would be a boon for its Australia-based lawyers.

Reflecting on its decade on the ground in South Korea, HSF noted in its statement that its international Korea practice “has grown significantly”.

“We have built a respected roster of Korean public, private, energy and financial sector clients for whom the firm has acted on important cross-border transactions and disputes. Given the exclusively international nature of our work, we have determined that our clients’ interests are now best served by a new approach.”

“Our existing and new Korean clients will continue to receive high-quality legal service through this new model of service, and we look forward to maintaining strong local firm relationships. While some of our staff in Seoul will relocate to other network offices, we thank those leaving the firm for their enormous contribution and wish them well,” it concluded.