SEOUL, May 26 (Yonhap) -- The Constitutional Court ruled Thursday that the lawyers' code of conduct banning them from joining online legal counseling platforms, such as LawTalk, is unconstitutional, a decision expected to bring sweeping changes to how law is practiced in South Korea.
The ruling is in favor of 60 lawyers and Law&Company, the operator of mobile legal service app LawTalk, who challenged the Korean Bar Association's Code of Ethics for Attorneys for banning lawyers from joining LawTalk and other online legal service platforms.
Launched in 2014, LawTalk had rapidly grown to become a major online client-lawyer matching service and legal counseling provider for tech-savvy South Koreans, matching some 22,770 legal consultations as of March 2021.
The firm was dealt a blow, however, as the Korean Bar Association revised the lawyers' code of conduct in May last year to prohibit lawyers from working for those online platforms, arguing they serve as a paid broker between lawyers and clients -- an act prohibited under the country's Attorney-at-Law Act.
The LawTalk operator and the 60 lawyers filed a petition against the revision with the Constitutional Court, saying it violates lawyers' freedom of expression and occupation and the firm's property rights.