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SCU Law Has Plenty of "Seoul" These Days

Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2012

South Korea may be the 15th-largest country in the world by GDP, but it regularly is the largest source of non-U.S students seeking an advanced law degree from Santa Clara University School of Law.

In recent years, five to seven admitted international LL.M. candidates attending Santa Clara Law were from South Korea, compared with one or two each from countries like Germany, Austria, France, India, Philippines or Taiwan. (For J.D. students at SCU Law, South Korea is among the top five countries of origin.)

The school's officials say the strong showing is the byproduct of a mutually beneficial relationship that SCU Law has cultivated with South Korea, which dates back decades.

“If you go to Korea and ask them about U.S. law schools, everyone there knows about Harvard, Yale, Columbia -- and Santa Clara,” said SCU Law professor Philip Jimenez, who pioneered many of the relationships that SCU enjoys today. He said many top corporate and government leaders were educated at SCU, many attending a program begun 20 years ago in which in which SCU Law students go to South Korea to take international law and business courses at Kookmin University.

Some SCU alumni who are now at upper echelons of Korean companies include Seung Ho Ahn, a senior vice president,  IP Center, at Samsung Electronics; Shane Hong, legal director at Oracle Korea; Dennis Cho, general counsel at British-American Tobacco; Hazel Suh, former member of Parliament who is now director of the litigation team at Logos Law.

Other SCU alumni leaders in Korea: Kyung Whan Ahn, professor and former law dean at Seoul National University and former chair of the Korean National Human Rights Commission; Grace Kim, professor at Kookmin University; and partners Hee Jeu Kang, Dong Hong Yang and Hyun Wook Park of the law firm Bae, Kim and Lee in Seoul.

This sharing of brainpower with South Korea started in about 1984, when Prof. Jimenez was invited to lecture at the Korean Legal Center on Anglo American Jurisprudence. “The world wants a piece of Silicon Valley, and of course Santa Clara is right in the heart of that,” he said. He’s gone back virtually every year to lecture or teach. Some of Seoul’s top legal minds have also lectured here, including Kyong-Whan Ahn.

Jimenez also every year stages a mock negotiation between students in his International Transactions class and a counterpart group at Seoul National, with both sides working to negotiate a nanotechnology product licensing agreement between two fictional companies. “They take this very seriously, and in the process get a firsthand look at what it’s like to work through difficult cultural, financial and legal aspects of international business,” said Jimenez.

Other SCU Law synergies with Korea:

*The Korean-American Law Students Association at SCU Law was recently formed for networking, professional growth and community among Korean-American students.

* The Korea chapter of the Santa Clara Law Alumni Association just launched, and held its first meeting attended by Polden and Jimenez in Seoul in October.

“Korea is really under a full head of steam at this point,” said Jimenez. “It’s a feather in our cap to have this continuing relationship with them.”

Jan. 25, 2012

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