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Business Booming for S Korean Crypto Lawyers

Tim Alper
Last updated: | 1 min read

The number of large South Korean law firms specializing in cryptocurrency, blockchain and fintech-related matters is growing fast, says a new report – providing much-needed support for the country’s beleaguered cryptocurrency exchanges.

Source: iStock/aluxum

Hacks, fraud allegations, banking restrictions, insurance-related issues and the removal of tax breaks have all shaken South Korean exchanges this year, while an initial coin offering (ICO) ban has forced many crypto ventures abroad. However, per a report in Weekly Chosun, lawyers are quickly developing expertise in the sector – with many major firms developing their own, large fintech units.

The media outlet states that BKL, a Seoul-based law firm that began dealing with fintech-related cases in 2015, now has a blockchain unit that is 30 employees strong. Kim & Chang, one of the country’s biggest law firms, added a fintech unit earlier this year. Other major players, such as Yoon & Yang, Shin & Kim, Barun Law and Yulchon, have all either followed suit, or are currently planning to create their own teams of lawyers specializing in fintech cases.

Weekly Chosun quotes an anonymous lawyer stating that even smaller IT-specialist law firms were charging basic consultancy rates of up to USD 90,000 for blockchain and cryptocurrency cases up until recently – but that wider knowledge of fintech law within the South Korean legal industry is now helping to bring prices down significantly.

Lawyers are increasingly being asked to help companies launch cryptocurrency operations without contravening the ICO ban – whose legislation has been criticized by critics for its vagueness.

Helping companies deal with the aftermath of hacks, and providing consultation on customer damages has also been providing fintech lawyers with potentially lucrative cases – and legal advice is now being sought by companies looking to create contracts for blockchain technology-related partnership deals.

As for what to look for in a lawyer, startups need to find one that will help them understand the regulatory regime, and to keep them informed of what they’re getting their business into.

“I would advise startups to look for law firms that have a deep understanding of the sector and if applicable, strong financial services regulatory and securities law capabilities,” Nick Abrahams, Partner and Global Head of Technology and Innovation at Norton Rose Fulbright, told earlier this year.