ASIA LAW Network (asialawnetwork.com) interviews Lawyer Pham, Managing Partner of ASL LAW about Vietnam Interview: Legal Practices & Challenging Aspects of Lawyers and Law firm in Vietnam. This is the full article.
— Lawyer Feature: Pham Duy Khuong of ASL Law—-
Jointly organised by Asia Law Network together with the Law Society of Singapore, the Singapore Corporate Counsel Association and our Australian Counterparts, AlphaCreates and ASEAN Legal Tech Association, the Insider Guide to Legal in Singapore saw Anthony as one of the delegates who came by Singapore for the event.
One of the event’s foreign delegates was lawyer Pham Duy Khuong. Pham is the Managing Partner of ASL Law, a Vietnamese law firm that has expertise in regional business transactions. He has been recognised as one of the top lawyers in Vietnam, and has also been awarded with fellowships and scholarships by the Australian, Japanese, and US governments.
What made you choose to be a lawyer and what drives you today?
I love the feeling of standing before the court– the feeling of protecting, persuading, guiding people in legal disputes. So, I decided to become a lawyer.
In legal practice, I am attracted to negotiations with lawyers from other countries with different legal systems. This keeps me learning, and opens networks with international organisations, law firms and lawyers. Recently, Vietnamese enterprises have started doing business outside the country, and it is challenging for them to receive advice on legal issues in such new business environments. These connections provide us faster and reliable contacts for helping Vietnamese enterprises when they do business overseas. It is also a good chance to become a trusted partnership for international law firms and global enterprises in terms of business consultancy in Vietnam.
What do you think is the most challenging aspect of your job?
Regarding legal advice in Vietnam, there is always a gap between the regulations and legal enforcement in Vietnam. Our challenge is to provide our clients with the most practical advice not only based on legal regulation but also on practice.
Then, for advice on doing business abroad for Vietnamese enterprises, the challenge is to find the correct law firm partner which is suitable to the demands and actual situation of the client.
What is the most significant case you have worked on?
That would be the anti-dumping case involving the Vietnam Government and two Thai and Malaysian furniture material companies. This cross border dispute involved the complexities and connections, as I mentioned earlier, that make legal work fulfilling.
What legal issue or area do you think will become more significant in Vietnam?
It is possible that the following area shall be significant in Vietnam: M&A, Intellectual property, Franchise and Anti-dumping and countervailing.
If you were to compare the legal landscape for Vietnam now and ten years ago, what would you say changed the most?
Clients have more choices of legal service providers in Vietnam. In addition, international clients can contact and work with Vietnamese law firms directly since Vietnamese lawyers can now better advise in English.
What are your thoughts on legal technology in Vietnam and how it will change the way lawyers work?
This topic has been discussed among Vietnamese lawyers and law firms. However, due to the more conservative legal environment in Vietnam, it is too early to see the effect of legal technology to the market in Vietnam. Vietnamese law firms (with the exception of the international law firms) only apply technology to their legal practice at a very basic standard. The situation shall remain unchanged within the next 5-10 years.
How is your law firm adapting to the disruption of technology in the legal industry?
We are updating our software to make sure that it meets requirements of confidence, database safety. We focus on administrative tools of documents, portfolio, case management and workflow allocation. We are also progressively putting our documents onto the cloud.
What skills do you think younger lawyers need to stay relevant in the future?
They should know about the legal issues not only in Vietnam but also in ASEAN countries. To do so, the skill of networking between lawyers from one country to another is important. They should equip themselves with social media skills like Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter to get in contact with other international lawyers.
Any advice for aspiring lawyers?
Be aware of legal technology, and not to be afraid of this if you have a deep knowledge on a specialised legal area.
You recently attended the Insider Guide to Legal in Singapore event, what are some of the similarities or differences you see regarding the legal industry between Vietnam and Singapore?
The legal industries of Singapore and Vietnam are totally different. Singapore is becoming a hub for legal dispute resolution in Asia which creates an incomparable advantage for Singaporean law firms or lawyers. In addition, Singapore is leading in pushing their law firms to invest in legal technology with specific grants that shows how Singapore views legal technology in high regard. Whereas in Vietnam, legal technology is only discussed in seminars, and their application is very limited. Vietnamese law firms are not ready for this or they do not really see how the legal technology could affect to their work.