Committing an affair and shamelessly ordering the wife to leave the family home because the house belongs to him. A husband who was assaulted every day due to his wife suspecting of infidelity. Quitting his job without telling his wife and then chatting with women on social media and asking for photos. All of these stories that seem like something on TV are all real cases experienced by clients of one divorce lawyer. SMT interviewed divorce lawyer Cho Insup, who is known for her Instatoon 'Diary of Cho Insup Divorce Lawyer,' which introduces realistic divorce cases witnessed during her 19 years of work on divorce proceedings.
Before we begin, would you please introduce yourself and your law firm 'Shinsegaelaw' to our readers?
Hello, Sookmyungians! I'm Cho Insup, a lawyer at Shinsegaelaw Law Firm. I am a divorce and inheritance lawyer and have been working as a lawyer for 19 years. Our law firm, which was established in 1998 in Seocho-dong, specializes in family law. Among laws related to family, our law firm has grown by focusing on divorce and inheritance litigation, and currently, all 18 lawyers, including myself, are in charge of divorce and inheritance lawsuits. In 2020, in recognition of our expertise related to inheritance, we signed a will and trust business agreement with Hana Bank, and last year, we opened a second office in Seocho-dong.
What made you dream of becoming a lawyer? Also, what motivated you to specialize in the field of family law?
I have had a vague longing for the legal profession since I was young. I think I was influenced by my father, who was a lawyer and a former chief prosecutor. Eventually, I became a lawyer, and the office I entered when I first started working was an office specializing in family law. As I continued my work there, dealing with family law suited my aptitude, and I became interested in the field of family law, so I continued to pursue work in that field. As a result, I have been a specialist in divorce and inheritance for 19 years.
To become the first family law lawyer certified by the Korean Bar Association, you must have been constantly researching and working hard. What kind of efforts did you make to become a specialist in family law?
First of all, when I first started my career as a lawyer, I was 29 years old. I was young and was not even married at that time, so when I met my clients or went to divorce mediations, the clients and mediators would ask, "Are you married?" From then, I thought that I had to strengthen my professionalism in order to survive in this field. So, I entered Ewha Womans University Graduate School of Law, 9 years after graduating from university, and achieved both master's and doctoral degrees in family law. And I continued my research in this field. I had a strong will not to fall behind other lawyers in family law.
You are helping clients get divorced. It seems that you must feel very satisfied when your clients finally get divorced after a long divorce litigation. In addition to this, please tell us about the most rewarding moment as a divorce lawyer.
After a long divorce lawsuit, I'm most proud when the clients express their gratitude to me. I am happy to see those who are doing well after divorce, free from the pain they went through during their divorce proceedings. It's also a proud moment when I solve problems about children related to divorce such as parenting issues and help them.
Which of the many cases you have dealt with, excluding divorce cases, is the most memorable?
As I specialize in family law, I continue to deal with cases related to children. The cases that I will never forget are the changes to parental custody rights due to child abuse. In this way, I deal with so many cases of children suffering from their parents' fights or abuse. The most shocking case was that a child was under so much stress due to the parents' arguing and domestic violence that blood appeared in the child's urine. In the cases related to children, there are cases where the outcome was not good like that one. Therefore, I am very happy when I hear after the end of the lawsuit that the children are living well. And in many cases, the children's condition often gets improved.
Then, what is the hardest part of being in charge of divorce cases? Also, how did you overcome it?
In divorce cases, continuous consultation between lawyers and clients is essential. While talking with the clients, they talk about everything about themselves and their situation to lawyers and rely heavily on them. In addition, during the divorce suit, many clients are in unstable or emotionally difficult situations, so they often express their feelings to lawyers. So, when lawyers continue to experience those situations, they sometimes get emotionally exhausted. In fact, this is something that many divorce lawyers, including me, struggle with. But I overcame it by practicing tai chi chuan, a Chinese martial art. Doing the movements of tai chi chuan every morning and evening helps me to heal. If I hadn't started doing it, I might not have been able to continue to work as a lawyer.
Also, there will be clients who hesitate to get a divorce due to the fear of social prejudice. How do you communicate with the clients when counseling with them?
Making a decision on divorce is difficult for anyone. The fear will also be great. But I tell my clients that they have to overcome their greatest fear and have the courage to escape from their current situation. Most importantly, I remind them that they are not the only ones who have ever suffered from such difficulties, and many people go through this process to get divorced. I continue to empower them that they are not alone and there are people to protect them.
Your Instatoon (Instagram + Cartoon) 'Diary of Cho Insup Divorce Lawyer,' is gaining huge popularity for its realistic stories and easy-to-understand detailed explanations. Why did you decide to serialize your Instatoon despite being in charge of so many cases?
Most of all, I have liked cartoons since I was young and even once dreamed of majoring in art. And that led me, after becoming a lawyer, around 2006, to think about combining cartoons and divorce cases. The law is hard for most people to understand, but it would be easy to understand if I use cartoons to explain the difficult parts of the law. So, in 2012, I released a book called 'The Divorce Story of Lawyer Cho' which explains legal problems arising from divorce by introducing actual cases and related precedents. It is a book consisting of cartoons and question-and-answer format, and at that time, I drew all the cartoons myself. The experience of publishing a book like that led me to create an Instatoon. Due to the time spent dealing with my current cases, now I'm getting help from author Park Eunsun.
Many people will be comforted and get help through your Instatoon. What are some of your most unforgettable readers' reactions?
Many people show various reactions through comments and direct messages. Some say it helps them not to get divorced, while others say that they decided not to get married after reading the Instatoon. Although I adapt the actual cases of the clients, there are diverse reactions because I show real cases related to divorce. Also, among the people who come for counseling about divorce, some people say that they have received a lot of comfort and strength from the Instatoon, and the reactions of those people are the most precious.
The divorce rate is constantly increasing. Also, in recent years with COVID-19, corona blues and domestic discord within the family are on the rise. What do you think is the main cause of the rising divorce rate?
There may be various reasons for the increase in the divorce rate, but what I felt during counseling with my clients is that people mainly divorce when they only put forward their position rather than trying to understand each other. What should always be remembered when you get married is that marriage is meeting and living with a completely different person. However, if you want your spouse to fit in with you in every way, the marriage relationship will inevitably have problems.
You are an adjunct professor at Ewha Womans University Law School. As a lawyer, what help do you give to students who will become future lawyers?
I try to deliver all the helpful parts of my knowledge to students. I mostly teach the students about the practical part rather than the academic part since I am working as a lawyer. Even so, the main goal of the students in law school who want to become lawyers is to take the bar exam, so I can't overlook the academic part while teaching. My goal as a professor is to be perfect in teaching both the practical knowledge and theories for the exam.
Please tell us about your future goals.
When I first started as a lawyer, people thought that divorce cases were handled by just any lawyer and that all lawyers had experience with one or two divorce cases. No one thought there was a professional lawyer in charge of divorce cases. But now many people know about divorce lawyers and think that divorce cases should be handled by them. Therefore, the number of lawyers in charge of divorce cases is increasing, and our law firm alone has 18 lawyers dealing with divorce and inheritance. My goal is to enable Shinsegaelaw Law Firm, the law firm that I represent, to establish itself as a specialized divorce and inheritance law firm.
Last, would you please give a final message to Sookmyungians?
Many activities are restricted due to COVID-19, and difficult days are continuing. I know that university classes are mostly non-face-to-face, so I'm worried that students will not be able to feel the romance of university that I felt in my university days. Still, I think that university life is the golden age of our life. I want to tell you to enjoy it as much as you can. Please think that the future is yours and I hope all of you always have a bright day.
- Lawyer, Shinsegaelaw Law Firm
- Professor of Ewha Womans University Law School (2018~)
- No. 1 lawyer in Family Law certified by the Korean Bar Association (2017)
- Awarded Commendation from the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family (2012)