Startups welcome justice ministry's decision to withdraw restrictions from mobile lawyer service

By Park Sae-jin Posted : September 27, 2023, 14:22 Updated : September 27, 2023, 14:23
SEOUL -- Information technology-related ventures and startups welcomed the justice ministry's decision to cancel the disciplinary actions against lawyers who provided legal consulting services through LawTalk, an online legal consulting platform that provides matchmaking services for lawyers and clients.
LawTalk, operated by Law & Company, was launched in 2014 to provide ordinary people with easy access to law-related services. While almost every legal service in South Korea is only accessible by visiting law firms and legal offices, customers of LawTalk could receive professional legal advice through the smart platform. The legal service platform also offered a matchmaking service to connect customers and lawyers. Customers could choose lawyers based on user reviews.
South Korea bans law firms owned and operated by a person or group without a lawyer's license. In May 2021, the Korean Bar Association claimed that LawTalk lawyers violated such regulations by providing legal services to LawTalk, which the lawyers' association saw as an online law firm.
Disciplinary actions were taken to give penalties to the lawyers and they were slapped with fines of up to three million won ($2,220) in October 2022. The lawyer's association warned that additional actions will be taken against any lawyer who provides his or her services through an online legal consulting service platform.
However, the justice ministry lifted all disciplinary measures taken on 123 lawyers who provided services through LawTalk. Law & Company welcomed the Ministry of Justice's decision and said: "South Korean legal-tech companies are finally able to take their first full step forward thanks to the decision made by the justice ministry's disciplinary committee."
The Korea Venture Business Association (KOVA), an association of venture business operators in South Korea, also released a statement welcoming the justice ministry's decision. "Thanks to the Ministry of Justice's decision, a new road has been paved for the vitalization of South Korea's legal-tech industry and legal consumers will receive all the benefits," KOVA said.
The Korea Startup Forum consisting of some two thousand tech startups said: "It is a meaningful decision as lawyers are finally free from all restrictions of disciplinary actions. They are now free to meet their clients."
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