Bird & Bird has signed a cooperation agreement with Hwang Mok Park, one of South Korea’s top ten firms in terms of lawyer numbers.

In what may be a watershed moment for the South Korean legal market, Hwang Mok Park will have access to Bird & Bird’s global network, while the international firm will benefit from the Korean firm’s local expertise.

Kun-Su Mok, managing partner of Hwang Mok Park said: “This cooperation agreement can be seen as a defining moment, not only for our firm but for the Korean legal market as well. The key to HMP’s decision in taking this major step has been our belief in the compatibility of our two firms – not only in terms of our client bases and service offerings, but more importantly in terms of our firm values.”

Although the arrangement is non-exclusive, the firms entered the agreement with an eye on a merger in the next few years. This can only happen in July 2016 when the Korea-European Union Free Trade Agreement (FTA) allows European and Korean lawyers to enter into partnerships and European firms to hire domestic lawyers.