Code of Ethics Critical for Vietnamese Legal Transition

ABA staff left to right: Jennifer Rasmussen, Elizabeth Andersen, Hilarie Bass (then ABA President-Elect) and Linda Klein (then ABA President) met with Vietnam Bar Leaders in September 2016 to discuss future opportunities with the Vietnam Bar Federation.
In January 2018, ABA President Hilarie Bass, ABA ROLI Director Elizabeth Andersen, and ABA ROLI Asia Director Elisabeth Baraka will travel to Hanoi to continue ABA ROLI's program with the Vietnamese legal profession by conducting a one-day workshop on the code of ethics of lawyers in adversarial litigation and in providing legal advice. The workshop will allow for mutual learning, with presentations and discussion drawing on comparative perspectives from the United States, Vietnam, and internationally. The workshop will focus on the role of the bar associations, lawyers' relationship with their clients, the role of lawyers as advisors, relationships between lawyers, and the role of lawyers in adversarial courts.

The ABA’s legal ethics workshop will help the VBF meet its goal of ensuring its code of ethics meets international standards. Effective, world-class ethical regulation of legal practice in Vietnam will be foundational in boosting the reputation of lawyers, equipping them to meet local and foreign clients' needs, and ensuring they are part of the solution to the corruption that currently is a drain on all parts of society.  Enabling the success of the local legal market is vital both in protecting the interests of citizens and in supporting a business environment that can facilitate sustainable economic development. A respected, internationally-aware legal profession is particularly  important as the country responds to increased foreign investment in sectors such as garment manufacturing that have moved in to Vietnam in recent years chasing lower labor costs.

In a jurisdiction with a developing conception of legal professional privilege and judicial independence, and a keen interest in the adversarial approach, peer-peer contributions from U.S. and other international lawyers are welcomed to achieve the desired change. Beyond the immediate plans to review the Code of Ethics, ABA ROLI's cooperation with the VBF supports the development and professionalism of a key legal institution, the nation's bar association, and builds a strong foundation for further collaboration between the US and Vietnamese legal communities.