Well, as ol' Paul of Tarsus would say, "whatsoever those lawyers soweth, that shall they reap." As this story in the Dong-A Ilbo newspaper illustrates, those who face no competition tend to lose their competitiveness:
Major domestic companies have given Korean law firms 79 out of 100 points for competitiveness, and 83 percent of the companies say they could turn to foreign law firms should Korea’s legal market be opened.Many Korean lawyers argue that the current barriers to entry into their profession are necessary to ensure high quality in the legal profession. This, however, is a bit like saying that no new watch companies should be permitted to enter the market unless they can meet the "Rolex standard." Nevermind that under such a system, very few people could afford to wear a watch, just as in Korea, few people can afford the services of a lawyer.
On whether they would turn to foreign law firms after the market’s opening, 71.4 percent or 35 of the legal departments of the 50 companies said they would do so for “certain sectors.” Just five companies (16.3 percent) said no.
Moreover, to judge by the Dong-A Ilbo's story, the restrictions have done little or nothing to promote a high quality legal sector in South Korea. Quite the opposite, in fact: the protections afforded existing members of the Korean Bar have protected them from competitive pressures and lessened the need for innovation or improvement. Now, as these lawyers face the possibility of foreign competition, the consequences of such a cushy past are staring them in the face.