Kim Charm, editor, social policies, in Chosun Biz (June 19, 2021)
Summary by Soomi Hong (Photo credit: KM Solutions)
Flagging down a taxi on the street is becoming an outdated practice. Now, most people use their smartphones to access an increasing array of services, including a ride, a trip and cleaning.
Digital platforms are also encroaching into the traditional professional services. The most well-known is the LawTalk, a legal tech company that charges subscription fees to connect attorneys to clients. There are about 4,000 attorneys on the service, which some joke is the fourth largest law firm by revenue size.
Worried about the impact on legal fees, the Korean Bar Association (KBA) updated its internal regulations to punish attorneys offering services on platforms and plans to bring a lawsuit. Not many think that the KBA can win in this battle, however. In two earlier legal attempts, the platform company won by arguing that they are not providing a legal service, but a marketing service. Many expect that the current efforts by the KBA will merely delay an inevitable victory for the platforms.
There are many similar battles between the traditional professional services and the emerging digital platform companies. The Korean Medical Association is fighting to extend review requirements to beauty and medical platforms. The Korea Association of Certified Public Tax Accountants has taken legal action against a digital accounting and tax service.
With the proliferation IT technology, the battle between the digital and the conventional order is expected to spread to even more industries. Digitalization transformation can be inclusive, distributing the benefits more evenly among players, while customers benefit from convenience. Service providers are growing fast and are gaining in the compensation and respect they receive.