Legal Tech Victory: Korean Bar Association’s Disciplinary Actions Against Rotalk Lawyers Canceled by Ministry of Justice

2023-09-29 22:18:00

[앵커]

The Ministry of Justice canceled the Korean Bar Association’s disciplinary action against lawyers who joined the legal platform ‘Rotalk’.

The conflict between Lotalk and the Korean Bar Association that lasted for more than two years has actually been resolved with Lotalk’s victory, and expectations for the growth potential of so-called ‘legal tech’ are also growing.

Reporter Kim Cheol-hee reports.

[기자]

In May of last year, the Korean Bar Association revised its regulations to allow disciplinary action against lawyers who subscribe to the platform, saying it would prevent the use of legal service platforms.

As a result, 123 lawyers who used ‘Rotalk’ were subject to disciplinary action, and objections from those involved in the disciplinary action continued.

As the conflict deepened, the Ministry of Justice summoned the parties directly to determine whether disciplinary action was appropriate.

[정재기 / 대한변호사협회 부협회장 (지난 7월) : 변호사 플랫폼을 활성화해 법조시장과 국민의 선택권을 그 사기업에 완전히 종속시킬 것인지….]

[엄보운 / 로앤컴퍼니 이사 (지난 7월) : 정의와 법치에 기반을 둔 합리적인 판단을 내려주실 것이라 믿어 의심치 않습니다.]

After three rounds of deliberation, we decided that the Bar Association’s disciplinary action was unfair.

Rotalk simply provided a space to connect lawyers and consumers.

The Ministry of Justice concluded that there were no charges because it did not apply to a service that directly connects the two.

However, while Rotalk has the positive side of resolving the problem of legal information asymmetry,

There are concerns that it may harm the public interest, such as by placing lawyers who paid a lot of fees at the top of the search list.

We also presented challenges that need to be addressed in the future.

[한동훈 / 법무부장관 (지난 27일) : 영업 방식에서도 제도 개선이 필요하다는 결론을 낸 겁니다. 변협이나 그런 업계, 이런 쪽이 새로운 제도를 잘 만들어나가도록 법무부가 잘 지원하도록 하겠습니다.]

After the ruling was announced, even startup groups came forward to express their welcome, raising expectations for the revitalization of legal services, or so-called ‘legal tech’.

Now that platform regulatory obstacles have been cleared, the industry can grow rapidly if the government further relaxes regulations and encourages fair competition.

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[구태언 / 변호사 : 걸림돌을 없애주고, 아무나 뒷골목에서 축구공을 차듯이 아무나 사업을, 혁신해볼 수 있게 해주면 되는데…. 전통 산업과 혁신 산업이 경쟁해야 하는데 지금 정부는 심판 역할을 해야 하거든요.]

The root of the conflict has not been completely rooted out, as the Korean Bar Association continued the dispute even though the prosecution and the Fair Trade Commission previously sided with Lotalk.

The Bar Association said it is difficult to understand why the Ministry of Justice canceled disciplinary action after confirming most of the violations of regulations, and hinted at the possibility of additional response.

For this reason, there are growing voices calling for urgent follow-up measures to prevent further disputes, such as clearly defining the means by which lawyers can advertise.

Currently, the National Assembly grants the authority to regulate lawyer to the Presidential Decree, not to the Bar Association.

An amendment to the Attorney Act to include ‘applications’ as means is being discussed by the Legislation and Judiciary Committee.

This is YTN Kim Cheol-hee.

Photographer: Choi Seong-hoon

Video editing: Seo Young-mi

Graphics: Jaeyoung Oh

YTN Kim Cheol-hee (kchee21@ytn.co.kr)

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