This study, based on a sample of 134 lawyers in private practice in the Republic of Korea, examines the career profile of the modern Korean lawyer.
Korean lawyers generally come from privileged backgrounds; the children of landlords and professionals comprised nearly two-thirds of our sample. The paucity of law firms in Korea has led young lawyers to enter government service for judicial experience before "retiring" to private practice. Consequently the youngest lawyers in private practice are in their thirties, while most are in their fifties.
Korean lawyers recognize the need for specialization. However, the tradition of establishing one's position with the help of personal contacts and through judicial experience remains strong, and most of the lawyers in this study still accept cases of all types, even when they might be inclined to specialize.
The lawyers in our study are generally quite satisfied with law as a career, presumably due to the high prestige accorded the legal profession and the nature of the work itself.