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Kim & Chang’s dominance is threatened in Korea’s law firm market

2016.02.24 13:34:34 | 2016.02.24 19:17:20
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Kim & Chang, Korea’s biggest law firm, is losing its market share to rival law firms in the country. Kim & Chang is the only market share loser for three consecutive years among the country’s top six players whose annual revenue hit more than 100 billion won ($81 million) last year. Data show that Kim & Chang remains in the top spot but its influence is declining.

By revenue, Kim & Chang’s market share fell to below 50 percent for the first time ever in the market contested with five top rivals: Bae, Kim & Lee, Lee & Ko, Yulchon, Shin & Kim and Yoon & Yang.

The data is based on an analysis by Maeil Business Newspaper’s legal affairs section Ray the L of six-year revenue of top six law firms from 2012.

Kim & Chang’s revenue grew from 794.4 billion won in 2012 to 892.2 billion won in 2015. But the law firm’s market share fell from 53.8 percent to 49.9 percent in the same period. Bae, Kim & Lee has remained in second place since 2012 except 2014. Lee & Ko elbowed out the second place player in 2014, showing a continuous growth.

Kim & Chang posted 794.4 billion won in revenue in 2012 and has maintained the level above 800 billion won since 2013. Last year’s revenue was close to 900 billion won, setting a new record in the industry. But its proportion in the big six slid by 3.9 percentage points from 53.8 percent in 2012 to 49.9 percent last year.

A senior attorney at a well-known foreign law firm said Korea’s legal service market expands gradually, but Kim & Chang’s clout seems to backpedal.

Per capita revenue at Kim & Chang for last year was way higher than that of other five players. Kim & Chang has 924 registered lawyers, CPAs, patent attorneys and tax accountants as of last year. Its per capita revenue was 965.58 million won versus 504.36 million won posted by Bae, Kim & Lee, where 481 professionals earned 242.6 billion won in total. The figure for Yulchon, Lee & Ko and Shin & Kim was over 400 million won, with Yoon & Yang at over 300 million won.

Bae, Kim & Lee and Lee & Ko fiercely battle for the second place. Bae, Kim & Lee, a long-time second-place player, was overtaken by Lee & Ko in 2014, when the former’s revenue was 197.9 billion won versus the latter’s 199.5 billion won. But Bae, Kim & Lee retook its place with revenues of 242.6 billion won. Bae, Kim & Lee stood out in the M&A market last year. It won a court battle against Deutsche Securities and Deutsche Bank in the interest of victims of flawed option contracts last year.

Lee & Ko is noticeable for its steady revenue growth, posting 156.0 billion won in 2012, 173.2 billion won in 2013, 199.5 billion won in 2014 and 216.0 billion won in 2015. Its revenue accounted for 12.1 percent of the market contested with other five top rivals last year, up from 10.6 percent.

By Jeon Ji-sung, Lee Hyun-jeong

[ⓒ Pulse by Maeil Business News Korea & mk.co.kr, All rights reserved]

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