James K. Lee | White & Case LLP International Law Firm, Global Law Practice
James K. Lee
James K. Lee

James K. Lee

Partner, Seoul

“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. One client calls him a “brilliant strategist” while others praise his excellent advocacy skills in court…”

Chambers Asia-Pacific 2018


James K. Lee serves as the Global Head of White & Case's Korea practice and the Executive Partner of the Seoul office, which was named as the "Most Responsive International Firm of The Year, South Korea"  by Asian-MENA Counsel Firms of the Year 2016 and one of top 10 international law firms in South Korea by Legal Times 2016 and 2017.

Described as "a brilliant strategist who is meticulous but sees the big picture", "excellent at managing teams, understanding clients' needs, and thinking outside of the box" (Chambers Asia-Pacific 2017), clients come to James for his deep insight and experience in handling complex, cross-border litigation. Over more than twenty years' practice, he has developed a significant track record of winning cases involving complex commercial disputes.

He has successfully represented both domestic and multinational companies in state and federal courts, as well as before arbitral tribunals. James is especially noted for his adept handling of cross-border business disputes involving international parties, and has successfully tried multiple jury trials to verdict.

In addition to his litigation practice, James also assists Korean companies with their operations in the United States and in other international markets. James, who speaks fluent Korean, has a significant background in this field, having represented many of Korea's top companies.

Drawing on the experience of the Firm's lawyers in multiple practices around the world, James offers comprehensive legal counsel to major Korean companies. By steering them through the technical minefield of cross-border transactions and regulatory issues, he enables these clients to extend their activities into foreign markets with complete confidence.

The breadth of James' international experience is matched by his deep familiarity with the Korean business environment. This has also made him a valued resource for global companies doing business within the Korean market. Drawing on his relationships with local counsel, James is perfectly placed to help foreign companies navigate the challenges presented by the Korean legal and regulatory landscape.

Bars and Courts

  • Registered Foreign Legal Consultant, Korea
  • California State Bar
  • US District Court for the Northern, Central and Southern Districts of California
  • US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit


  • JD, University of Minnesota Law School
  • BA, Political Science, University of Michigan


  • English
  • Korean


Major Korean Auto Maker, 2016

James represented a major Korean auto maker in a lawsuit brought by a former distributor. The client succeeded in having the case ordered to arbitration in Korea.

South Korean shipbuilder, 2016

Acting for a major South Korean shipbuilder in a shipbuilding dispute against a Greek buyer involving issues of alleged technical defects including in relation to coatings.

South Korean engineering company, 2016

Acting for a major South Korean engineering company against a major provider of vessels to the offshore oil and gas companies in relation to a technical support vessel.

Business Torts Claims, 2015 and ongoing

James is representing a major Korean bank in a high stakes U.S. litigation involving tens of millions of dollars based on business torts claims.

Indemnity Claims, 2015

James advised a major Korean automobile parts supplier with respect to indemnification rights against a U.S.-based component supplier for product design defects.

Global Mobile Messaging Platform, 2014

James represented LINE Plus Corporation, one of the fastest growing global mobile messaging platforms, in relation to the acquisition of the worldwide business and assets of the digital music service known as 'MixRadio' from Microsoft Mobile OY (formerly Nokia's handset business).

Leading Bolt Manufacturer, 2014

James counseled one of Korea's largest bolt manufacturers in relation to a product liability case tried in Texas District Court, involving a fire at an Alaska oil refinery with claims for tens of millions of dollars against valve manufacturers. A directed verdict was granted by the Court in favor of the client.

Leading Consumer Appliance Maker, 2013-2014

James acted as lead trial counsel in a putative wage and hour class action before the California Superior Court, on behalf of a large Korean appliance maker. With strategically targeted discovery, James and his team were able to obtain the necessary admissions from plaintiffs to obtain a summary judgment, and the case was dismissed in its entirety.

Putative Class Action, 2013

James acted as lead trial counsel in a putative class action against a Korean rail car maker. The client achieved a favorable settlement after discovery.

Leading Korean Heavy Industry Company, 2011 and ongoing

James coordinated the client's representation in a US Department of Commerce anti-dumping investigation in 2011–2012 involving large electrical transformers manufactured in Korea for export to the US.

Speaking Engagements

"Recent Trends in U.S. Class Actions: Is there Slave/Forced Labor in Your Supply Chain? Is Your Data Secure?", September 2016: In-House Counsel Forum Summer Workshop,
Jeju Island, Korea
, (Co-speaker with Bryan Merryman)

"Dispute Resolution in Central & Eastern Europe, in particular Ukraine & Russia", April 2015: White & Case with the Korean Commercial Arbitration Board (KCAB) and the Seoul International Dispute Resolution Center,
Seoul, Korea
, (Chair)

"Overview of U.S. Litigation Procedures", March 2014: Doosan Group's Intellectual Property Task Force Team,
Seoul, Korea

"Writ of Attachments and Provisional Remedies for Creditors in California", March 2014: Korea Deposit Insurance Corporation,
Seoul, Korea

"Practical Tips on Depositions Involving Korean Witnesses", September 2013: 2013 Conference of the International Association of Korean Lawyers,
Seoul, Korea

"How to Conduct Jury Selection", September 2012: 2012 Conference of the International Association of Korean Lawyers,
Los Angeles, US


  • Long Window for Recognizing Foreign Judgments Invites Fraud, American Bar Association, July 2012

Awards & Recognition

Leading lawyer for dispute resolution in South Korea, Chambers Asia-Pacific 2017, 2018

"Spotlight Table" for dispute resolution in South Korea, Chambers Global 2017

"Notable Practitioner" for dispute resolution in South Korea, Chambers Asia-Pacific 2016

Recognized as a disputes lawyer in Asia Pacific Legal 500 2017