James K. Lee is the managing partner of the Seoul office. Mr. Lee focuses his practice on complex cross-border business disputes, class action defense, arbitrations, and business torts. Drawing upon 20 years of experience as a trial lawyer in Los Angeles before relocating to Asia, he has a strong record of success involving complex commercial disputes and has successfully represented domestic and multinational companies in state and federal courts and in front of arbitral fora. He is particularly skilled at handling cross-border business disputes involving international parties, and has successfully tried multiple jury trials to verdict.

Mr. Lee also has substantial experience advising senior management of Korean companies to navigate complex regulatory, disputes, and transactional matters in the United States and in other international markets. He has represented numerous Korean companies in industries such as finance, electronics, semiconductors, automotive, heavy industries, and telecommunications, and has deep and broad familiarity with the Korean business landscape. Prior to joining Arnold & Porter, Mr. Lee worked in another international law firm's Hong Kong office and led the launch of its Seoul office in 2015.

Chambers Asia-Pacific 2018 noted, "James Lee is highly regarded for his international experience and deep understanding of the Korean business environment, with considerable expertise in cross-border commercial disputes. He is recognized by clients as a 'brilliant strategist who is meticulous' and a leader who shows 'excellent advocacy skills in court.'"

Asia Pacific Legal 500 2017 recognized Mr. Lee as a leading individual for international arbitrations and for being "excellent at managing teams, understanding clients' needs, and thinking outside of the box."

Experience

  • Representing a Korean company in a potential contract and unfair competition dispute related to the purchase and sale of high-tech products involving hundreds of millions of dollars at issue.
  • Representing a large Korean mattress maker in a US putative nationwide class action alleging product defects and misrepresentation.
  • Representing a large Korean well-being appliance maker in a California-based labor dispute. Obtained summary judgement for the same client in a separate putative class action for wages by independent contractors. Obtained a complete defense verdict and prevailed on counterclaims in a separate federal court trial brought by a distributor, alleging breach of contract.
  • Representing a Korean consumer electronics company in a putative class action alleging misrepresentations regarding the pixel count for screens on certain smart devices.
  • Representing a tier one Korean automotive parts supplier as a third-party witness in an ongoing partnership dispute in the US.
  • Advised one of Korea's largest engineering and construction companies regarding strategies for early dispositive motions in a New York federal court lawsuit filed against the client.
  • Represented a Korean export credit agency in a multi-million dollar US lawsuit in federal court against a US distributor of electronics and IT products based on claims for fraud arising from fabricated import-export transactions.The case arose out of a highly publicized banking scandal in Korea that resulted in ten different banks being collectively defrauded in an amount exceeding USD 400 million by a company named Moneual, which carried out a scheme of fabricating export transaction to secure loans. The client secured a substantial settlement amount on the eve of trial.
  • Represented a Korean automotive company in a lawsuit brought in Miami, Florida, by a longstanding exclusive nationwide distributor in the Carribean claiming fraud and breach of contract in connection with the termination of the distributorship. The client succeeded in having the case ordered to arbitration in Korea, and the distributor abandoned its case.
  • Represented a major Korean power plant owner in a dispute arising from the failure of certain turbines and the resulting losses from the disruption of power production.
  • Advised a Korean automotive company with respect to potential commercial disputes in Central Europe and Southeast Asia.
  • Advised a major Korean automobile parts supplier with respect to indemnification rights against a US-based component supplier for product design defects.
  • Represented a major Korean entertainment company with respect to a multimillion-dollar royalty dispute in the United States.
  • Advised a major Korean construction company with respect to a potential dispute arising out of a bid for a multibillion-dollar construction project in the United States.
  • Advised one of Korea's largest bolt manufacturers in a product liability case in Texas District Court involving a fire at an Alaska oil refinery with claims for tens of millions of dollars. Through creative strategies, the client was ultimately exonerated with no evidence of liability and granted a directed verdict.
  • Represented one of the fastest growing global mobile messaging platforms on numerous international legal and regulatory issues.
  • Represented a US biotechnology company in the coordination of parallel litigation in Korea and the US involving a shareholder dispute and trade secrets.
  • Defended Hyundai Rotem in a California wage and hour class action.
  • Represented Samsung Electronics in a US putative class action alleging false advertising to consumers regarding battery standby and talk time of certain model mobile handsets. Defeated class certification, and the case was ultimately voluntarily dismissed by the plaintiffs.
  • Successfully defended one of Korea's largest entertainment companies in a lawsuit filed by a concert promoter arising from the cancellation of a concert.
  • Represented a Korean national who had been wrongfully charged by the federal government with attempting to export technical data from the US without an export license in violation of the Arms Export Control Act and the International Traffic in Arms Regulations. All charges against the client were dismissed within one month of arrest.
  • Obtained dismissal of an action for misappropriation of trade secrets and interference with business relationships against the US subsidiary of a large Korean company in the paper products industry.
  • Defended one of Korea's largest construction firms in a lawsuit filed in US federal court by a group of US investors that invested in a high-rise complex in Seoul, Korea. Obtained early dismissal of the action on the grounds of improper venue and forum non conveniens. The case was affirmed on appeal to the Ninth Circuit.
  • Represented the Republic of Korea in a lawsuit involving management and control of a California nonprofit public benefit corporation that was established by the Korean government. The government gained full control over the organization.

Recognition

Chambers Global
"Spotlight Table" – Dispute Resolution: International Firms (South Korea) (2017-2020)
"Recognised Practitioner" – Dispute Resolution: International Firms (South Korea) (2016)
Chambers Asia-Pacific
Dispute Resolution: International Firms (South Korea) (2017-2020)
"Recognised Practitioner" – Dispute Resolution: International Firms (South Korea) (2016)

Credentials

Education
  • JD, University of Minnesota Law School, Note and Comment Editor, Minnesota Journal of International Law
  • BA, University of Michigan
Admissions
  • Registered Foreign Legal Consultant, Korea
  • California
  • US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
Languages
  • Korean
  • English
Overview

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