12/08/2011

Proud to Have Been a Member of Korean Court System: Korea Legal System is Changing for the Better

As many of IPG's Blog readers know, I formerly worked for the Korean Constitutional Court for over six years.  I believe, to date, I am still the only non-Korean attorney to have been a regular employee of the Korean court system. 

This opportunity led me to gain great insight into the operation of the court and build friendships with judges, prosecutors, government officials and government attorneys.  These friends are some of the best friendships I have had in my life.

Some of my interactions lead me, sometimes, to have a negative impression of many aspects of the Korean legal system.

As many readers know, I am quite critical when criticism is needed.   However, I believe my criticisms are, always, fair and not the rants of the typical "disgruntled foreigner in Korea."  

I love Korea and love working in Korea.  However, many aspects of the Korean Legal System are far behind the West.  Some of the major issues include the impression of corruption, poor quality of too many attorneys, lack of judges with business experience, lack of client focus of lawyers and the lack, in many cases, of basic legal ethics.  This is all changing because of competition, better legal education and a focus on protecting the integrity of the legal profession.

One of the great changes just occurred this past week.  Few prosecutors and judges, with the exception of the most notorious, have been prosecuted for corruption. 

I know judges that were caught taking bribes that were only forced to resign (with pension).  Upon resignation, they began the practice of law without even a period of suspended practice.  I know prosecutors that took bribes from gangs and went to jail and are, now, still practicing law.   This is all ridiculous, however, in the not so distant past - this nonsense was typical in most professional fields.  Things are changing.

The recent prosecution of a former prosecutor may put this nonsense to an end if the former prosecutor is sentenced to time in jail and looses her license to practice law.  I have no clue of the strength of the prosecutions indictment, but I have seen few cases where a person is held pending trial without a prosecutor having substantial evidence.

The details of the prosecution may be found at: Corrupt Female Prosecutor Arrested (Korea Times).
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SeanHayes@ipglegal.com