During the ILN’s 2011 Asia Pacific Regional Meeting in Hanoi, Vietnam, we had a very interesting presentation with Mr. Nguyen Van Thao, the Vice Chairman of the Vietnam Lawyers Federation. He treated the group to a fascinating history of legal practice in Vietnam, and the current state of the legal industry. After a welcome from our chairman, our local host lawyer, Mr. Phan Nguyen Toan, translated the presentation for us.
Mr. Thao is the current and permanent Vice Chairman for the Vietnamese Lawyers Federation, which is the national organization for all practicing Vietnamese lawyers. He began with some information about the establishment of the Vietnamese legal association, and the current status of Vietnamese lawyers.
History of the Legal Field in Vietnam – Pre-1987
Vietnam was a longtime colony of France, since before 1945. At that time, they had two small groups of lawyers – one in Hanoi and one in Ho Chi Minh city. But those lawyers were made up of only French lawyers – there were some members who were Vietnamese and had studied French law, but they were only paralegals or support staff for the French lawyers.