Thanks to its strengths in IT, HMP Law is considered one of the busiest leading law firms in Korea’s rapidly developing ICT sector. With new technologies constantly emerging, new regulations and laws are coming into force, and an increasing number of companies are collaborating with law firms to expand their business into the areas of FinTec (financial technology), Blockchain, cryptocurrencies, drones, self-driving cars, sharing economy, Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), and others.
HMP’s “IP power” comes from the expertise of 8 young lawyers in its Tech & Comms Team: Ahn Chan-sik (lawyer in charge, graduate of the 31st class of the Judicial Research and Training Institute), Park Eun-ji (41st class), Shon Ga-ram (45th class), and Eom Yoon-ryung, Park Ju-hong, and Nam Won-chul (who each passed the 5th Korean Bar Exam). Led by Ahn Chan-sik, they review the progress of cases at monthly meetings and check issues of law in various areas, to strengthen their expertise.
Specifically, HMP has a lot of experience in legal consultation matters related to the Blockchain, which are gaining attention as the next big thing in technology. In 2009, an anonymous figure named Satoshi Nakamoto created the Blockchain to mint a new digital cryptocurrency, Bitcoin. A “block” means the contents encrypting certificates on the value of currency and transaction records, based on a hexadecimal number. Blocks are formed successively every 10 minutes, thereby creating a chain. HMP Law says, “We are receiving an increasing number of requests for advice about the Blockchain. Equipped with the Blockchain-based business model, foreign companies desire to establish branches in Korea. HMP’s advisory service concerns legal regulations on cryptocurrencies, initial coin offerings (ICO) and the establishment, operation and transaction of cryptocurrency exchanges.”
HMP recently provided legal consultation with regard to the ICO of PlusCoin by Metaps Plus, a company engaged in the development of mobile marketing platforms. This ICO is the first issuance of a cryptocurrency under Korean law. Other Korean companies have launched ICOs in Switzerland, Estonia and other cryptocurrency-friendly countries.
The Tech & Comms Team is also giving comprehensive legal consultation with regard to the establishment and operation of CoinRoom, a cryptocurrency exchange market to be launched by Metaps Plus, and will provide necessary services for the replacement of various forms of contracts with ‘smart contracts’ based on Blockchain technology.
Later this year, HMP will hold a seminar entitled “A comparative legal review on the regulations of cryptocurrencies.” During this seminar, HMP will present and compare the current cryotocurrency regulations of several countries, including Korea, Switzerland, Estonia, China, Japan, Hong Kong, and Singapore, with input by lawyers in those countries who are specialized in cryptocurrencies. HMP Law has previously held seminars jointly with Bird & Bird, a global law firm, on IoT, AI, 3D printing, FinTec and other similar subjects.
HMP Law is actively expanding its advisory services to other new industries. As a member firm of the Korea Drone Association, HMP Law provides legal consultation monthly at the general assembly, specifically recently advising on the establishment and operation of the International Drone Sports Organization. HMP Law says, “Our plan is to give a wider scope of legal consultation with regard to the establishment of the International Drone Sports Organization, the preparation of a memorandum of understanding for partner companies desiring to join such organization, and the operation of future sports events and related rule-making.”
The Tech & Comms Team recently launched its own Korean-language blog to present legal opinions on innovative technology matters and information on relevant laws.
Translated and adapted slightly from the Korean original: