Protect Yourself from Bad Lawyers in Korea

By Sean Hayes (Korea Times 2/27/09) Too many Korean and foreign attorneys working in Korea are performing legal work that is often to a level so low in quality that it must be considered the work of incompetent attorneys. Many of the biggest and most respected Korean law firms even have attorney competency issues. Throughout much of the world, clients believe the reputation of the firm is the deciding factor in the quality of representation, since the top graduates choose to work for firms with the best reputation. In Korea, many of the best attorneys have little interest in working for the largest and most respected law firms and many of the top firms hire attorneys that are far from the top of their trade. Therefore, when hiring attorneys, choose attorneys, not firms. Many of the most “respected” firms amongst non-Korean clients, don’t have the best attorneys and even hire

Continue reading

Buy American Dance Goes On

by Sean Hayes (Korea Times 2/21/09) The American stimulus bill is to be signed into law with a “buy-American” provision mandating that stimulus-funded programs only fund those that utilize U.S. manufactured goods. Additionally, it makes it more difficult for banks, which received funds under the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP), to hire immigrants. In order to appease free-trade Republicans, President Barack Obama pushed for language noting that the United States will honor its international agreements. The language doesn’t change the effect this bill will have on the superpower and the world. The United States is a country built on the notion of political and economic freedom. With vibrant and robust free market capitalism and a political system able to react quickly to changing dynamics, it has maintained one of the most prosperous societies the world has ever known. Because of our financial crisis, opponents of free trade were able to

Continue reading

ASEAN Charter Online

The ASEAN Charter can be found online at: http://www.aseansec.org/ASEAN-Charter.pdf The charter has been ratified by all 10 ASEAN member states (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam). The ASEAN Charter is an interesting step for Southeast Asia. It is interesitng to note that the decision making functions will be decided only through consensus. If consensus is not reached the decision may be made at the ASEAN Summit. The Summit is to be held twice per year and will include the heads of the 10 ASEAN member states. The ASEAN Charter, facially, is intended to be a step to the creation on a single market by 2015. I will be writing a law review article on this charter. The article will be published in the Spring. I will post it HERE after publication. [email protected]

Continue reading

Female Judges on the Rise

67 of the 96 judges appointed this year are woman. Woman judges now comprise 21.5% of the total judiciary. The selection of judges is determined by averaging the judicial exam score with the grade point average at the Judicial Research and Training Institute (2 year training program). The highest grades are able to be offered jobs as judges and the second highest as prosecutors. Most Korean judges and prosecutors begin their service in their late 20s. [email protected]

Continue reading

Bills Pending at National Assembly Concerning the Relationship between Lawyers and Tax Accountants

There are a couple of pending bills concerning the relationship between lawyers and tax accountants at the National Assembly. One bills concerns allowing lawyers to obtain tax accountant licenses and the second bill concerns allowing tax accountants to jointly represent clients with lawyers. The first bill proposed by Lee Sang Min, a assemblyman in the United New Democratic Party, was transferred to the Legislation Judiciary Committee through the Finance and Economy Committee. Deliberations have begun on the bill at an Investigative Committee. The bill is likely to pass. The bill was proposed by an attorney and received no objections at the Legislation Judiciary Committee on February 13, 2008. However, the Korean Bar Association has noted that the bill may cause confusion, in that some of the public may believe that attorneys are not able to represent clients in these matters even though the Attorney Act allows lawyers to represent clients

Continue reading

New Minister of Justice

Korean President-elect Lee Myung Bak nominated Kim Kyung-Han as the new Minister of Justice. Mr. Kim served as the Prosecutor General at the Supreme Public Prosecitors’ Office and Vice-Minister at the Ministry of Justice. Mr. Kim wrote and interesting law review article entitled: “The Study on the Evaluation of the Korean Government Reform Performance: Focusing to the Introduction of New Management Programs in the Kim Dae Jung Administration (김대중정부의 신관리기법 도입을 중심으로)”The article is critical of the performance-based reform measures implemented by the Kim Dae Jung Admininstration. The article is published in Korean in the 서울행정학회 (2005/02). [email protected]

Continue reading

Report on Korea-US FTA by Peterson Institute

The Peterson Institute, the most influential nonpartisan think tank dedicated to international economics, published an excellent work assessing the Korea-U.S Free Trade Agreement. All interested in Kor-US FTA should read this report. The summary of the report notes: The Korea-United States Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA) opens up substantial new opportunities for bilateral trade and investment in goods and services and promotes important foreign policy interests of both countries. The FTA quickly removes most tariff barriers to auto trade and substantially reduces tax and regulatory burdens that impede sales of US cars in Korea; improves access to the Korean market for a wide range of US farm products; and opens up the Korean services market in key areas such as financial services, insurance, express delivery, and legal and accounting services. onetheless the ratification of the KORUS FTA has been controversial. In the United States attention has focused on both the

Continue reading

Sailing in Korea

My yacht club, 700 Yacht Club, which I am the vice-commodor of, is commencing an interesting project. We will be building four i550 sportsboats. If anyone is interested in sailing or knows how to build boats, please contact me and we can discuss a membership. The membership fee is reasonable for most (W3.8mil/year) and includes sailing lessons and the use of the boats. Please see the website for more details. The yacht club presently has a 33-foot cat, four 21-foot racing trimarans, a 26-foot yamaha, a 25-foot Hunter, a Campion 545i powerboat, and the yacht clubs racing team has an Admiralty 30. Oh, I almost forgot our two dingies which are often used, but never appreciated. [email protected]

Continue reading

Law School Plan May Be Delayed

I was photographed, in what I have been told is the “worst hate in the world,” protesting against the Ministry of Justices selection and quota for law schools next to the President of Kookmin University. They forced me to hold up the English sign, but I was not forced to wear the hat. A number of universities have formed a union to protest against the plan, some schools are to file a suit at the Constitutional Court, Korea University has threatened to withdrawal its application because the number of students allowed is too small, many students have demonstrated, and numerous articles have been written blasting the plan. It is probable that the plan will be delayed and the new administration will increase the cap. It will be interesting to see what the Constitutional Court does when a case is filed. I wrote an article for the Korea Times on the

Continue reading

Lawyer Cap Unconstitutional

This article, written by Sean Hayes, appeared in the Korea Times on February 13, 2008 By Sean Hayes Any numerical limitation on the number of law schools, law students or Korean Judicial Exam passers is unconstitutional under Article 15 of the Korean Constitution. Most of the world’s constitutional democracies don’t impose numerical caps on the number of law schools, law students, and bar passers. Korean people are smart enough to realize that these numerical limitations are only tools to protect the livelihood of lawyers, and increasingly lawyers are being perceived by the public as greedy, dispassionate about clients’ needs, and unwilling or incapable of handling unique and sophisticated legal matters. The Korean Bar, therefore, for the good of the nation and legal system should voluntarily give up its insistence on protecting lawyers at the expense of their nation, law, legal system and the Korean people and should insist that colleges

Continue reading

First Jury Trial in Korea Held

The first jury trial in Korea was held in Daegu yesterday. The case concerned the aggravated battery and robbery of a woman in her 70s. The first most alarming aspect of the case is that the defendant requested the trial on Jan 10 and the trial was held yesterday. Korea does have an efficient criminal justice system even in the case of their first jury trial. I have spoken to a judge that is friends with the chief judge in the case and will update the reader on the specifics of the case in the next couple of days. [email protected]

Continue reading

Korean Law School List Announced

The Legal Education Committee, a Committee that has been criticized for knowing little about education and even less about legal education has announced its provisional list of “Law Schools.” The 15 schools in Seoul, Gyeonggi and Gangwon: 1. Seoul National 2. Yonsei 3. Korea 4. Sungkyunkwan 5. Hanyang 6. Ewha Womans 7. Chung-Ang 8. Kyunghee 9. Sogang (big surprise) 10. Konkuk 11. Inha 12. Ajou (bigger surprise), 13. Kangwon National14. Hankuk University of Foreign Studies15. University of Seoul (surprise) Regional Universities: 1. Pusan National University 2. Kyungpook National University3. Dong-a University 4. Yeungnam University 5. Chonnam National University 6. Chonbuk National University 7. Wonkwang University8. Cheju National University 9. Chungnam National University 10. Chungbuk National University [email protected]

Continue reading

Korea Needs More than 4000 New Lawyers per Year

A Korea Development Institute (KDI) report, published on January 14, 2008, strongly asserts that Korea is in need of at least an additional 4000 new lawywers per year. The KDI report claims that between 1977 and 2006 lawsuits increased by about 13% to 14% per year, while the increase in the number of lawyers only increased by 8.4%, thus, creating a derth in supply. The KDI report furthur claims that over the past 30 years lawyer incomes have consistently increased, thus, claiming to have dispeled the myth that the market is saturated. The KDI proposes increasing the number of graduate law school students to 4000 per year in order to meet demand. [email protected]

Continue reading

National Human Rights Commission of Korea Independence in Jeopardy

The Presidential Transition Committee has proposed the placing of the National Human Rights Commission of Korea under the control of the executive branch. One of the arguments of the Transition Committee is that the Commission is in violation of the principle of separation of powers. I will discuss this issue in my weekly column in the Korea Times. The column will appear in the Korea Times on Wednesday of next week. The press release for the Commission, concerning this issue, appears below. Result of the Emergency Plenary Committee (January 17, 2008) The National Human Rights Commission of Korea (hereinafter the NHRCK) expresses serious concerns over the government functions and organization rearrangement plans (made public on January 16th) of the Presidential Transition Committee (hereinafter the Transition Committee) which include the change of the NHRCK’s independent status to the direct control of the Presidential office. As well known, the NHRCK was established

Continue reading

Going Green

Going Green Appeared in the Korea Times on Jan. 16, 2007 By Sean Hayes My father has gone green. No my father has not been transformed by Al Gore’s “Inconvenient Truth.” He has been transformed by market mechanisms that have encouraged him to go green. My father is a conservative conservationist and he doesn’t even know it. Yes, my father, proudly, has purchased the liberal do-gooder mother ship ― the Toyota Prius. No he didn’t accept the free Al Gore bumper sticker or the dinner with Jane Fonda. Last year, in the United States, the Toyota Prius, for the first time, outsold the highest selling sports utility vehicle- the Ford Explorer. My father and many others purchased this gas-electric hybrid because it gets 22 kilometers per liter, many states don’t impose sales tax on the car, a federal tax credit is available, the car has a mid-size car feel, it

Continue reading

What to Be Thankful For

What to Be Thankful For By Sean Hayes Appeared in the Korea Times on Dec. 27, 2007 Christmas is a time of giving. So we should all give thanks that we live in one of the world’s great nations. I often criticize Korea, in these very pages and elsewhere, for not fully protecting freedoms, favoring the vested elite, excessively taxing, creating and fostering a bloated inefficient bureaucracy, and over-regulating. My cynical nature often gets the best of me. Korea is a great nation where those shortcomings are not as serious as in many parts of the world. Korea, in only a handful of decades, is a nation that has overcome a horrific war, demoralizing poverty, and brutal dictators to become one of the models for economic success in Asia. Korea has also been moving in the direction of becoming, not in name only, a constitutional democracy. However, don’t fret, I

Continue reading

Impeachment Standard in Korea

Impeachment Standard in Korea Appeared in the Korea Times on Decemebr 13, 2007 Dear Sean: A liberal party has initiated impeachment articles against three prosecutors. I remember reading an article about how impeachment occurs in Korea, but I can seem to find it. How can a government official, like a prosecutor, be impeached in Korea? Allen in Itaewon. Dear Allen: The question brings to light the unique way that impeachment is handled in Korea. In Korea, as in many countries, impeachment begins by a vote in the legislature; however, Korea is unique in that the Constitutional Court is given power over removal. Article 65 states that if “the President, the Prime Minister, members of the State Council, heads of Executive Ministries, Justices of the Constitutional Court, judges, members of the National Election Commission, the Chairman and members of the Board of Audit and Inspection, and other public officials designated by

Continue reading

Speech Dilemma

Speech Dilemma By Sean Hayes Appeared in the Korea Times on Dec. 11, 2007 An American investigative news program, 20/20, aired a report that sheds light on the dark side of free speech in America and the difference in the treatment of speech in America vs. Korea. The report featured a couple of stories concerning the perils of free speech. One of the stories concerned the 18-year-old daughter of Christos and Lesli Catsouras who died in a gruesome car accident. Pictures of the accident reached the public and promptly the Catsouras received anonymous e-mails and text messages that contained the photographs of the accident. One photo included the picture of the 18-year-old daughter’s decapitated and mangled body in the crumpled remains of the automobile. A fake MySpace page was even created, which at first looked like a tribute to Catsouras, but quickly redirected to the ghastly pictures. The father, a

Continue reading

Education: Race to the Bottom

Education: Race to the Bottom By Sean HayesAppeared in the Korea Times on 12/04/07 The Seoul government has finally realized that competition in education is not a bad thing. The present “equality” driven educational system has created a mere race to the bottom, while competition naturally leads to a race to the top. Competition in all fields is natural and should be encouraged. The present system of assigning students to school based on a lottery and location creates the same problem as a business monopoly. A monopoly will naturally provide a bad product, since there is little incentive to provide a good product. However, when the monopoly is broken by competition, the consumers will exercise their judgment in choosing the best product, thus forcing the former monopoly to provide a better product. We must all remember the importance of the product at issue. Education is the very foundation of modern

Continue reading

Right to Privacy: U.S. v. Korea

Brendon Carr has mentioned on his blog that: “The Korean Constitution recognizes a right to privacy. The US Constitution does not—we come from the proverbial “open society”. While both countries subscribe to the idea that the courts do the people’s business’, Korea is much more conservative about balancing the people’s ownership of the judiciary against the individual’s right to privacy.” The U.S. does “recognize the right to privacy.” Roe v. Wade is the most noteworthy case concerning the “right to privacy.” The issue is not simply that the U.S. doesn’t have a right to privacy. The U.S. does. Also, Korea does not have an “absolute” right to privacy – A “Megan Law” was held constitutional by the Constitutional Court. The issue is fundamentally the balancing of the right, the conception of state action, and the heightened level of protection offered through law, not the constitution, for the protection of privacy.

Continue reading