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Asia Counsel

Asia Business Law Journal names the country’s top law firms. Anindya Pithaloka and Lim Miran report

Vietnam’s strategic location and extensive network of free-trade agreements have made the country an important hub for international trade and investment. The Vietnamese government has also made significant progress in improving its legal and regulatory frameworks as it seeks to attract more foreign capital and become an important player in the global economy.

The nation’s development successes have been aided by sound economic fundamentals, a growing middle class, and an improving environment for doing business. Vietnam’s economy grew by 8% last year – the highest growth since 1997 – propelled by a domestic consumption recovery, resilient exports, and steady disbursement of foreign direct investment (FDI).

Big infrastructure projects were one of the main drivers of the country’s economic growth as Vietnam geared up to compete for international investment. However, the biggest push for Vietnam’s economic rise can be attributed to macroeconomic trends and geopolitical issues. The worsening ties between Washington and Beijing have pushed some businesses to relocate their manufacturing operations from China to Vietnam to avoid high tariffs and other trade barriers, leading to an influx of FDI and boosting Vietnam’s exports.

Apple is already moving some iPad production to Vietnam after strict lockdowns in China led to months of supply chain disruptions, while Apple’s main supplier, Foxconn, has also recently signed a USD300 million deal with Vietnamese developer Kinh Bac City to expand its facility.

In response to Vietnam’s economic potential, law firms are racing to establish or strengthen their presence in Vietnam. Earlier this year, Japanese firm Mori Hamada & Matsumoto established a new office in Hanoi, four years after opening in Ho Chi Minh City. Others have followed suit. Global and regional law firms such as: Dentons and Allen & Gledhill from Singapore; Kim & Chang, Bae Kim & Lee, Yoon & Yang and Yulchon from South Korea; US firms Hogan Lovells and McDermott Will & Emery; and others have all set up or expanded their services in Vietnam.

This move is not without its challenges. Law firms need to evaluate their clients’ demands and the sustainability of the local economy against macroeconomic movements. Hiring lawyers in Vietnam also presents a challenge, with firms taking a generalist approach compared to competitors in other markets.

In light of the rise of Vietnam as an emerging legal market, Asia Business Law Journal presents the inaugural Vietnam Law Firm Awards 2023 to recognise the country’s best in the past year. We have identified five law firms that have proven to be the best of the best in the country, a new firm to watch, and winners in 25 other categories, each of equal standing.

Recognised as one of the premier business law firms in Vietnam, VILAF, or Vietnam International Law Firm, was established in 1993 by a small group of former Clifford Chance lawyers. Today, with offices in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, and led by an executive management committee consisting of Vo Ha Duyen as chairperson and Ngo Thanh Tung and Ngoc Anh as managing partners, VILAF has developed into the largest English-speaking law firm in the country with 90 lawyers, including 15 partners.

In the past 12 months, VILAF has advised various global financial groups including Ford, Philip Morris, Shell, BNP Paribas, Citigroup, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (SMBC), ANZ, Mizuho Corporate and Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ. Domestically, it advised Vietcombank Securities in the private issuance of fixed interest rate bonds with the aggregate principal amount of up to VND1.7 trillion (USD70 million). This was the first onshore, local currency, internationally verified green bond issued in Vietnam by EVN Finance Joint Stock Company.

VILAF has also assisted the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank in the financing of Dakdrinh Hydropower Plant, the first project financed by AIIB in Vietnam that involved a complex structure to refinance existing loans from domestic banks; one hurdle was the regulatory restraint that prevents the use of a foreign loan to refinance domestic loans.

“Our first impression of VILAF is that it is a large-scale, reputable and experienced law firm, and during our working time, we found that VILAF is really professional and has a solid legal background,” says Tran Minh, chairman and CEO of Gia Thuy in Ho Chi Minh City. “VILAF’s strength is the ability to understand and evaluate the problem, thereby outlining the risks and the orientation to solve problems quickly.Tran Minh

“They provided a wealth of practical experience and insight to help us navigate a deal we didn’t have any experience with,” Tran adds. “We are completely satisfied with the legal advice service from VILAF.”

British law firm Allen & Overy opened its offices in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City in 2012, and has established itself as one of the leading law firms in the country for corporate and M&A, international capital markets, banking and finance, projects, and real estate, catering to Vietnamese and international clients.

The firm’s team consists of first-class international and Vietnamese lawyers, combining international and local expertise to advise their clients on domestic and cross-border transactions.

The firm is also recognised as the only fully integrated international firm with Southeast Asian coverage. Beyond Vietnam, the firm has established a presence in Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia, as well as dedicated resources focused on Myanmar, Malaysia, the Philippines, Laos, Cambodia and Brunei.

Late last year, Allen & Overy appointed Tina LeDinh as office managing partner for Vietnam, succeeding Adam Moncrieff, who had been at the helm since the Vietnam offices were opened.

Going back even further, Baker McKenzie Vietnam is one of the biggest and most successful international law firms in the country. Since opening its Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh Offices in 1993, the law firm has been led by managing partner Frederick Burke, who has a thorough understanding of the country’s complex legal and regulatory framework.

Allen & Overy and Baker McKenzie Vietnam have established a strong reputation as leading international law firms in the country, providing legal services to both domestic and international clients,” says Truong Binh, the head of legal department at construction and engineering company Fecon Corporation in Hanoi.

“They are known for their global expertise and extensive knowledge in various areas of law, which they apply to their work in Vietnam. In addition, they have dream teams of lawyers who possess a deep understanding of the local legal system, culture and business environment, and are able to provide tailored legal advice and representation to clients.”

Baker McKenzie Vietnam has helped facilitate legal reform and shape policy in the country by participating in the drafting process of laws related to investment, corporate, M&A, securities, intellectual property (IP), employment, digital, energy, and financing and competition.

Among the law firm’s successes in the past 12 months was assisting Vietnam conglomerate BIM Group and a Philippine-listed energy platform, ACEN Corp, in securing a USD107 million financing package from the Asian Development Bank for BIM Wind Power Joint Stock Company to support the operation of an 88MW wind farm in Ninh Thuan province.

The law firm also advised EDPR Sunseap Group, a leading clean energy solutions provider in Singapore, on its acquisition of two solar PV projects from Xuan Thien Group, a leading renewable energy developer in Vietnam. The two projects, totalling 200MW, are located at Thuan Bac district in Ninh Thuan province. This transaction not only represents the company’s largest utility-scale solar investment but also doubles its operational capacity in Vietnam, strengthening EDPR Sunseap’s presence in the Asia-Pacific.

Frasers Law Company is the first independent foreign law firm to be granted a foreign law company licence in Vietnam. Established in 2004 by managing partner Mark Fraser, who has been advising clients on transactions in Vietnam since 1994, when he was at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, the law firm is recognised as a diverse and multilingual law firm that provides services related to Vietnamese and international legal issues.

The firm’s reputation is further solidified by the team’s intimate understanding of Vietnam’s rapidly changing regulatory framework, coupled with extensive knowledge of the local business climate.

“Frasers Law Company is highly professional, understands the legal issues quickly, communicates clearly, and provides useful and practical advice,” says John Formichella, a partner at Formichella & Sritawat Attorneys at Law in Bangkok.

Established in 1999 by Truong Nhat Quang, who currently serves as managing partner, and partner Diep Hoai Nam, YKVN has since grown to become a leading law firm with more than 90 legal professionals and offices in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Singapore. The law firm advises on a broad range of matters including privatisation, public and private M&A, and private equity transactions, building its reputation on the extensive knowledge, infrastructure, technical capability and strategic perspective to help its clients implement and co-ordinate their strategies in Vietnam.

Recently, the law firm advised Vietnam Prosperity Joint Stock Commercial Bank (VPBank) on a USD1.5 billion private placement to SMBC, allowing SMBC to acquire 15% of VPBank’s charter capital as a strategic investor.

Previously, the law firm has also represented Vietnam’s largest conglomerate Vingroup in a USD1 billion strategic partnership with SK Group, one of South Korea’s largest conglomerates, as well as acting as counsel for Vinhome, the largest commercial real estate developer in Vietnam, in a USD1.3 billion investment from Singaporean sovereign wealth fund GIC. Other YKVN clients include Vietcombank, Vietinbank, Vietnam Airlines and Petrolimex.

Law firm awards

NEW FIRM TO WATCH

ALV Lawyers

ALV Lawyers is a Hanoi-based, dispute resolution boutique law firm founded by director and managing partner Duong Quoc Thanh. As a seasoned disputes lawyer, Duong has been in private practice for more than 15 years, after serving more than 10 years as a judge with Hanoi Court. He has also been selected as an arbitrator for the Vietnam International Arbitration Centre (VIAC) since October last year.

The law firm was set up with a vision to become a leading provider of the best alternative dispute resolution and litigation lawyers for clients in Vietnam and across Asia. With Hanoi as its current head office, the firm plans to open branches in Ho Chi Minh City, Da Nang and Phu Quoc, equipping them with trained lawyers and legal assistants to capture and serve its clients’ demands.

In the past 12 months, the firm has been involved in dispute resolution in many fields including commercial business, labour, insurance, real estate and contracts. Notably, the firm’s team is supporting a large client to give advice and complete a transfer impact assessment related to the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation and local laws.

“ALV Lawyers is a new boutique firm led by Duong Quoc Thanh, a wise, intelligent, responsive lawyer in Vietnam,” says Quach Thi Thu Hoai, legal and compliance manager at a general housing equipment company, Lixil Vietnam, in Hanoi. “Not only does the firm provide legal solutions for complicated legal issues; Duong and his team also give valuable advice for the best benefit of clients.”

  • APFL & PARTNERS
  • DZUNGSRT & ASSOCIATES
  • VILAF
  • YKVN

APFL & Partners (formerly Audier & Partners) was founded in 2008 by corporate lawyer and managing partner Nicolas Audier, who has been assisting international businesses in Vietnam and the region since 1999.

The law firm’s Ho Chi Minh City office is led by Audier, along with partner Etienne Laumonier, while the Hanoi office is led by partners Bernadette Fahy, Nicolas Picard and Antoine Logeay.

The firm has solid experience in handling international commercial disputes under the seat of major arbitration institutions such as the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and the UN Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) to assist clients in managing cross-border disputes.

The history of Dzungsrt & Associates can be traced back to 1997, in Ho Chi Minh City, as a boutique shipping and commercial litigation firm, Independents Legal Consultants, with the firm now re-established by dispute resolution lawyer and managing partner, Nguyen Manh Dzung, in Hanoi in 1999.

Well-known in arbitration and litigation, the law firm is often sought out by international counsel and frequently involved in the VIAC-seated arbitrations, as well as in the Vietnamese courts, representing foreign clients and their local subsidiaries.

The team has represented Vietnamese and foreign clients in disputes seated under the ICC’s International Court of Arbitration, UNCITRAL, the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC), the Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre (HKIAC), the Japan Commercial Arbitration Association (JCAA), and the VIAC.

  • ANHISA
  • APFL & PARTNERS
  • RAJAH & TANN LCT LAWYERS
  • VILAF
  • YKVN

ANHISA is a boutique aviation, shipping and dispute resolution law firm established in 2020 by managing partner Dang Viet Anh in Ho Chi Minh City. Dang is recognised for his more than 20 years of experience in maritime disputes.

The firm’s aviation team is widely acknowledged as the leading aviation practice in Vietnam, and has been involved in all major aviation cases, representing major players in the industry including leading airlines in all forms of aviation disputes and incidents at local courts or arbitration centres, as well as claims under the Montreal Convention on air carrier liability and Vietnam’s civil aviation law.

Recently, the firm has expanded its operation and launched an office in Hanoi to provide more coverage and support for local and overseas clients.

Rajah & Tann LCT Lawyers is a leading full-service law firm in Vietnam, with offices in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. The firm began in 2006 as LCT Lawyers, which formed an alliance with Singapore’s Rajah & Tann in 2014.

The firm is led by Quang Chau Huy as the co-founder and managing partner, with support from co-founder and chairwoman, Vu Thi Que.

With a strong reputation for providing high-quality legal services across a range of practice areas, the firm also has expertise in aviation law, with a team dedicated to providing comprehensive legal advice and support to clients in this industry. The firm’s aviation team has deep knowledge and experience in all aspects of aviation law, including aircraft leasing and financing, regulatory compliance, disputes and litigation, and safety and security. The team works closely with clients to provide proactive and commercially focused advice that is tailored to their specific needs and objectives.

London-headquartered Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer opened its Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh offices in 1994. Tony Foster has served as the managing partner since the law firm expanded its footprint in Vietnam.

The firm’s most recent success was advising longstanding client SMBC in acquiring a 15% equity stake in Vietnam Prosperity Joint Stock Commercial Bank for the equivalent of about USD1.5 billion through a private placement. Freshfields has been advising SMBC and its parent, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group, on all of its recent investment transactions in Vietnam, including the USD1.4 billion 2021 investment in lending service provider FE Credit, a joint venture with VPBank.

“Freshfields’ [Ho Chi Minh City-based counsel] Chris Milliken is a rising star and a sharp lawyer who will negotiate hard to protect your interests,” says Eugene Chan, head of legal at private equity company TR Capital in Hong Kong.

  • ASIA COUNSEL
  • FRASERS LAW COMPANY
  • KPMG LAW
  • LNT & PARTNERS

Established in 2016, Asia Counsel is a leading international boutique law firm. Helmed by managing partner Minh Duong, the firm employs 20 legal staff including two partners qualified in Australia and Scotland. The firm is deeply familiar with Vietnam’s ever-changing legal system and deals practices, with experience in assisting multinationals, private equity funds, financial institutions and large Vietnamese companies, and occasionally startups.

In the past 12 months, the firm has continued to gain significant deals from global companies. The firm advised The Blue Circle, a leading renewable energy company in Southeast Asia, on its antitrust filing with the Vietnam Competition Authority in relation to its strategic investment from Madrid-headquartered renewable energy company Acciona Energía.

“My experience with the team has been amazing,” says Andy Koh, chief operating officer at childcare services provider Busy Bees Asia in Singapore.

“As a business based out of Singapore, I need accurate advice and work to support our business growth in a foreign and arguably more complex environment, and Asia Counsel has been able to bridge that for us in a professional and clear way.”

Matthew Rendall, managing partner at Cambodia law firm SokSiphana & Associates in Phnom Penh, has been relying on Asia Counsel’s insights since 2016 for various cross-border mergers.

“Minh always proves to be efficient, detailed and thorough in all dealings and communications, making for smooth-running transactions; A joy to work with.”

KPMG Law combines tax and law expertise to develop suitable strategies for businesses. The firm has about 100 legal professionals in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, spearheaded by Richard Stapley-Oh as partner and head of law.

In December 2022, KPMG Law merged with regional law firm ZICO Law to strengthen its legal services throughout the Asia-Pacific.

The law firm’s antitrust practice specialises in regulatory filings for obtaining merger control clearance involving major M&A in Vietnam. The firm has also become one of the most entrusted partners with the Vietnam Competition Committee (VCC) due to frequent engagements and co-operation, extensive experience and expertise in this area, and a practical understanding of the VCC’s requirements.

Founded in 2006, LNT & Partners is a full-service independent law firm that focuses on advisory and transactional work in M&A, competition, pharmaceutical, real estate, infrastructure and finance, as well as complex and high-profile litigation and arbitration matters. Co-founder Hoang Nguyen Ha Quyen serves as the firm’s managing partner.

The law firm has a dedicated team specialising in competition law. Its lawyers are equipped with knowledge of the law and an understanding of the competitive difficulties companies face in Vietnam. Having represented and advised numerous multinational companies in competition compliance, the team also advises in antitrust and unfair competition matters including compliance training, review of contractual agreements, and changes to corporate structure and market strategies.

  • BAKER MCKENZIE VIETNAM
  • PHUOC & PARTNERS
  • VILAF
  • YKVN

An independent law and consulting firm, Phuoc & Partners was founded in 2003 by Nguyen Huu Phuoc, a veteran legal practitioner with more than 25 years of experience. The firm’s professional partners and staff consist of nearly 60 lawyers and legal specialists working across three offices in Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi and Da Nang, advising local and foreign clients in various industries.

In the past 12 months, Phuoc & Partners made significant progress in strengthening their team by recruiting 20 talented associates, paralegals and interns. The firm’s corporate governance and legal compliance group supports clients in compliance with the statutory obligations of Vietnam by providing legal and practical advice and assistance.

Some of the recently highlighted deals include assisting a Chinese education consultancy, Liu Cheng International Group, in establishing a representative office in Ho Chi Minh City, advising on the research and development contract dispute for Quang Ngai Sugar, and conducting amendment of import and export registration certificates for Elca Information Technology Vietnam.

  • FRASERS LAW COMPANY
  • RAJAH & TANN LCT LAWYERS
  • TILLEKE & GIBBINS
  • VISION & ASSOCIATES

Regional law firm Tilleke & Gibbins has been present in Vietnam since 1992, becoming the first foreign law firm in the country to be granted a licence to establish a representative office. The law firm is now one of the largest and most well-known in the country, providing a full range of corporate legal services.

Late last year, the firm hired Tram Ngoc Bich Nguyen as a partner in its Ho Chi Minh City office from YKVN. Tram focuses on data privacy, e-commerce, fintech, foreign investment and corporate matters, M&A, and real estate, as well as assisting multinational corporations in their adherence to local data protection laws and cybersecurity, data privacy, social network operations and e-contracting.

“We have been working with Tilleke & Gibbins in Vietnam for more than 10 years, and we are always impressed by the quality of work delivered by the firm, no matter how complex the matters are,” says Jay (Young-June) Yang, managing partner at South Korean law firm Kim & Chang in Seoul.

“We work with them on an extensive number of IP matters, especially important matters needing immediate and careful handling, and they never fail to provide prompt and helpful responses.”Jay (Young-June) Yang

Vision & Associates was founded in 1999 by the managing partner, Pham Nghiem Xuan Bac, and other partners. The firm is a full-service professional firm and together with its legal arm, Vision & Associates Legal, provides services in corporate, investment, contract, commercial, banking, financial, construction, competition, IT, employment and litigation law.

The firm employs more than 90 lawyers, patent and trademark attorneys and consultants, and is structured into three practice groups: legal, IP, and investment and business consulting. The firm also serves clients via offices in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City on domain name protection and cybersquatting issues.

Vision & Associates continues to handle anti-counterfeiting actions under its IP practice, and some of the firm’s key clients are Expedia, Motorola, Microsoft, Boeing, NEC, Fujitsu, Siemens, Bayer, Axiata and CJ Group.

  • ALLENS LINKLATERS
  • DUANE MORRIS VIETNAM
  • FRASERS LAW COMPANY
  • LEXCOMM VIETNAM

Allens Linklaters, a leading international law firm in Vietnam, is listed as one of the first foreign law firms to be licensed after Vietnam opened to the world in 1994. Allens’ international alliance with Linklaters ensures that the firm is able to serve clients throughout Asia and globally through a network of 40 offices in 28 countries.

Seeing a growing interest in Vietnam as an investment destination for energy and renewable projects in recent years, the firm has an active energy and infrastructure team that works across the energy and liquefied natural gas sectors, as well as handling renewables projects and emerging technologies including battery storage systems, floating solar, and offshore wind energy. The law firm’s clients include multinational companies, private equity investors, financiers and regional companies.

Partner Giles Cooper has been involved with the development of the direct power purchase agreement pilot programme in Vietnam, which allows businesses to purchase electricity directly from private firms producing renewable energy, instead of local power utilities.

Duane Morris Vietnam was established in July 2007 in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City to further the international firm’s commitment to clients in Southeast Asia.

Led by chairperson Nguyen Thi Lang, alongside partner and director Oliver Massmann, the law firm has worked with government-owned utilities and regulators on major power projects involving clean and renewable energy, upstream and midstream oil and gas infrastructure, as well as metals and mining projects.

Duane Morris Vietnam also includes development, financing, joint venture, syndication, securitisation and project management as its capabilities in Vietnam. The firm has engaged many clients in the past 12 months, including the advising Trading Construction Works Organisation, a multi-industry economic group in Vietnam, in the development of the 350MW intertidal Ca Mau 1 Wind Farm, one of the largest offshore wind power projects in Vietnam.

The firm has also supported a German government agency in connection with a project to work with the Ministry of Industry and Trade of Vietnam to introduce a legal framework for renewable energy projects.

Founded in 2016, Lexcomm Vietnam is a full-service Vietnamese law firm with a seasoned and technically skilled team of 12 senior lawyers in its Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City offices.

The firm’s dedicated group of specialist energy lawyers is one of the most experienced in the country. Managing partner Pham Ba Linh heads the firm’s energy, infrastructure and project finance group in the Ho Chi Minh City office, while partners Nguyen Viet Ha and Nguyen Hong Hai are both key contacts for the firm’s energy group in the Hanoi office.

The firm’s energy and natural resources practice covers upstream oil and gas, liquefied natural gas and pipelines, power and utilities, renewable energy, refining and petrochemicals, and mining and metals.

  • DNA VIETNAM
  • INDOCHINE COUNSEL
  • LEXCOMM VIETNAM
  • RAJAH & TANN LCT LAWYERS

DNA Vietnam was founded in 2020 by Dang Thanh Son and Dang Chi Lieu, former partners at Baker McKenzie Vietnam, focusing on corporate, M&A, and technology, media, and telecoms (TMT) including fintech. On top of offering their most capable lawyers to work with clients, the firm also utilises the best technology for the firm’s operation.

DNA provides legal advice on data privacy, e-payments and takedown requests, and offers legal reviews of hardware and software supply agreements. Actively providing comments on draft legislation in TMT, the Ministry of Information and Communications uses the firm as a go-to for input regarding new regulations.

The firm advised Singapore-headquartered mobile payment application, Coda Payments, on applicable regulatory requirements and contracts with merchants and payment partners in Vietnam, as well as licensing requirements applicable to an online game service company.

Established in 2006, Indochine Counsel is a leading commercial law firm in Vietnam. With more than 45 lawyers in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, the firm offers services for international investors and foreign firms to navigate the legal landscape in the country, as well as assisting domestic clients in their search for opportunities abroad.

The firm recently expanded its team by welcoming former Nishimura & Asahi lawyer Ngu Truong Huu as a partner in the Ho Chi Minh City office, bringing his more than 14 years of experience advising companies on corporate matters and cross-border M&A.

In the past 12 months, the firm has been actively involved in various projects and deals within the fintech landscape. Some notable achievements include assisting Singapore-based IT company Fingular in structuring a shareholding model for a digital lending business in Vietnam, and providing legal advice on the business model and day-to-day issues.

The law firm also provided advice on the development of new business models, legal health checks and compliance audits, regulatory, licensing and compliance matters, and foreign loan registration for Grab Vietnam. It also assisted Chinese content platform, ByteDance, with business setup in Vietnam, legal advice and assistance with various legal issues.

“We have worked in many transactions and Indochine Counsel has always delivered,” says Aloysius Wee, managing partner at Singapore law firm Aquinas Law Alliance.

Dentons LuatViet was launched in June 2022 when Dentons, one of the biggest global law firms, officially joined hands with a Vietnamese law firm, LuatViet, which was founded in the late 1990s. Led by Tran Duy Canh as the firm’s managing partner, the law firm has more than 40 legal professionals serving clients from its Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi offices.

Inbound investment is an important area of practice for the firm, and Dentons LuatViet specialises in advising clients on the many legal and regulatory issues that can arise when investing in Vietnam. The firm provides advice on the requirements for obtaining investment licences and the procedures involved in registering investments with the relevant authorities, as well as assists clients in compliance with Vietnamese laws and regulations, and how to secure necessary permits and approvals.

The law firm’s securities and capital markets team consists of veteran lawyers who are equipped with in-depth experience to assist regular clients including leading investment funds, fund management and securities companies, and listed companies.

  • BIZCONSULT
  • DZUNGSRT & ASSOCIATES
  • KPMG LAW
  • YKVN

Founded in 2002, Bizconsult is recognised as one of the most prestigious law firms in Vietnam. Managing partner Nguyen Anh Tuan leads a team of about 43 legal professionals, based in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City offices.

The firm specialises in investment consultancy and corporate matters, providing a full legal service for many international businesses operating in Vietnam. One important area of practice for the firm is insolvency and restructuring matters, where they assist clients in navigating the often complex legal processes involved in restructuring or insolvency proceedings, including advice on options available to clients such as bankruptcy, liquidation or debt restructuring.

In addition, Bizconsult provides support to international businesses in addressing cross-border insolvency issues that may arise when their operations in Vietnam are impacted. The firm’s lawyers are experienced in co-ordinating with lawyers from other jurisdictions to ensure that international clients have effective representation in Vietnam, as well as in other countries where they may have operations.

  • BAKER MCKENZIE VIETNAM
  • FRASERS LAW COMPANY
  • FRESHFIELDS BRUCKHAUS DERINGER
  • VINA LEGAL

Vina Legal was founded by managing partner Duong Quang Long and provides full legal services for both foreign investors and domestic companies. The firm covers a wide range of practice areas including corporate and M&A, real estate and construction, insurance, IP, technology, and dispute resolution.

The insurance team at the firm has expertise in advising clients on insurance-related disputes, bancassurance agreements between banks and insurance companies, and M&A transactions, as well as life and non-life insurance matters. In a recent deal, the team advised a South Korean manufacturer and distributor of Asian food products, CJ Foods, on its claim for compensation from insurance companies for damages caused by a fire in its factory in Ho Chi Minh City.

The firm’s clients include Tokyo Marine Insurance, Bao Viet Insurance, VietinBank Insurance Corporation, Tan Viet Securities Joint Stock Company and CJ Food Corporation.

  • BAKER MCKENZIE VIETNAM
  • BROSS & PARTNERS
  • IPMAX
  • ROUSE

Bross & Partners was co-founded by corporate lawyer Tran Anh Hung and dispute lawyer Hoang Van Dzung in March 2008. The law firm employs 30 experienced lawyers, legal experts, dedicated legal assistants and consultants in its two offices in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.

The firm’s IP litigation team is led by partner Le Quang Vinh, supported by partners Hoang Van Dzung and Nguyen Van Thai, and senior associate Nguyen Khanh Linh.

With a well-established networks of foreign IP agents, Bross & Partners provides international clients with one-stop registration services at low cost for trademark, industrial design and patents in other multiple jurisdictions, particularly in Southeast Asia, mainland China, Taiwan and Hong Kong.

During the pandemic, Bross managed to achieve attractive growth and has been enrolled in the list of leading IP experts in Vietnam. The firm also maintained a good relationship with many IP foreign agents and law firms to assist their clients in advising on IP issues.

IPMax was established in 2010 by its managing partner, Doan Son, who has been involved in the pioneering cases of IP rights enforcement in Vietnam, including the first nationwide enforcement programme against infringement of a design patent and the first administrative action against unfair competition acts under the Competition Law, 2005.

The firm is admitted to practice before the National Office of Intellectual Property and the Copyright Office of Vietnam, strengthened by 20 legal staff in its Hanoi office.

IPMax is recognised as a leading IP specialist firm, providing a full range of IP services from IP strategy, clearance, searches, filing and prosecution to dispute resolution and enforcement of IP rights, advising, reviewing and registration of agreements including technology transfer, licensing agreements, franchising agreements and other commercial transactions relating to IP.

International IP firm Rouse opened its first Vietnam office in 1997, and currently has offices in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City with a total staff of more than 50 people including Vietnamese and foreign lawyers, as well as patent and trademark attorneys led by Vu Yen as country manager, who also oversees IP cases in Laos and Cambodia.

As a leading IP practice, the firm provides a full suite of services including trademark and patent prosecution, litigation and administrative enforcement, and commercial advice. Rouse’s litigation and enforcement teams have advised a wide range of cases from brand protection to the enforcement of high-technology patents and pharmaceuticals, serving clients from big brand multinational companies to smaller entrepreneurial businesses in many different sectors.

  • AGELESS IP ATTORNEYS & CONSULTANTS
  • INVESTIP
  • IPMAX
  • PHAM & ASSOCIATES

Ageless IP Attorneys & Consultants was established in 2001 by managing partner Nguyen Duc Xuan, a seasoned IP attorney with more than 25 years of experience in all IP matters and also profound knowledge of IP systems and practices in Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar.

With a mission to expand IP services beyond Vietnam, Ageless IP has engaged with IP agents from more than 160 countries.

The firm handles both contentious and advisory IP work, dealing with matters involving trademark registration and enforcement, while also filing opposition requests to the National Office of Intellectual Property in Vietnam.

With a team of 27 legal staff in Hanoi, the firm advises key clients including South Korean multinational conglomerate Doosan, global flooring manufacturer Unilin, and QAF, a multi-industry food company listed on the main board of the Singapore Exchange.

“In the past year, we have developed excellent working relationships with Ageless IP due to their high-quality services,” says Kritchakorn Nimwenai, a partner and the head of trademark department at Ananda Intellectual Property in Bangkok.

Kritchakorn NimwenaiEstablished in 1988, INVESTIP is one of the oldest IP firms in Vietnam. With its long history, the firm has also established itself as one of the biggest IP law firms in the country, and has expanded its services to Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar.

The firm’s close approach and follow-up service, which includes official correspondence and direct discussions with trademark examiners and directors on a quarterly or monthly basis, helps the firm expedite the trademark and patent examination time, thus strengthening its reputation. In 2022, the firm filed 859 new national trademark applications and received 678 notices of grant for trademarks for earlier filed applications.

In addition, the firm filed 384 new patent applications and received 305 allowance notices for granting a patent for earlier filed applications. These numbers demonstrated a successful track record in handling trademark and patent matters, and obtaining trademark registrations and patents. The firm credits the past year’s success to its professional and effective prior-filing advice, as well as strong strategies for responding to office actions to help clients protect their valuable IP rights.

Founded in 1991, Pham & Associates is one of the most prominent IP law firms in Vietnam, with a strong practice in prosecution and contentious matters. The law firm is recognised for its experience in conducting appeal, opposition and invalidation procedures with Vietnam’s National Office of Intellectual Property and related agencies, resolving IP disputes or negotiating to reach out-of-court agreements and providing expert opinions on IP matters.

With 120 legal staff, including Pham Vu Khanh Toan as director and managing partner, the firm’s works cover all technical areas, particularly in chemistry, mechanics, electronics, pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, material science and telecoms. As a seasoned attorney, Pham has been advising a South Korean beauty brand, a Japanese haircare producer and a US pharmaceutical company in overcoming refusals.

With a head office in Hanoi and branch offices in Ho Chi Minh, Da Nang and Hai Phong, the firm prides itself on its self-designed, full-featured docketing software, and an updated IP database to carry out all types of searches, track the status and progress of each file at each stage, and report results that enable its attorneys to promptly respond to clients and provide solutions.

  • BAKER MCKENZIE
  • PHUOC & PARTNERS
  • RAJAH & TANN LCT LAWYERS
  • TILLEKE & GIBBINS
  • DZUNGSRT & ASSOCIATES
  • LE & TRAN
  • RAJAH & TANN LCT LAWYERS
  • VILAF

Founded in 2011, Le & Tran has established itself as a boutique litigation firm. It was founded by Stephen Le Hoang Chuong, a trial lawyer who left Baker McKenzie Vietnam with the ambition of modelling the first litigation firm-styled American mindset, and is now serving as the firm’s managing partner.

Le & Tran’s team of 20 lawyers advise clients in commercial and corporate disputes, white-collar crime, bankruptcy cases, risk management, corporate governance and compliance. The lean and efficient structure of the firm has helped to cater to the specific needs of each client, devise customised strategies, and achieve the most favourable outcome.

  • BAKER MCKENZIE VIETNAM
  • FRASERS LAW COMPANY
  • KPMG LAW
  • VILAF
  • ANHISA
  • DZUNGSRT & ASSOCIATES
  • EPLEGAL
  • FRASERS LAW COMPANY

EPLegal started in 2009 as a Vietnamese law firm specialising in the oil and gas industry, and has extended its legal services intensively in support of local Vietnamese and international commercial transactions, maritime, M&A, aviation and other legal interests.

The firm provides comprehensive legal advice for shipping and aviation-related issues to local and international clients, covering both transactional and contentious matters. EPLegal has represented sponsors, co-venturers and financiers, and handled contentious cases and maritime claims.

EPLegal is also experienced in assisting clients with legal matters related to aircraft lease, novation and transfer transactions, as well as providing advisory services for owners, lessors, lenders and guarantors in planning and exercising remedies in connection with financing and refinancing transactions. The firm has represented VietJet Aviation in international operating lease transactions with foreign lessors.

ASL LAW was established by lawyer Pham Duy Khuong, the firm’s managing partner. Its banking and financial services team are well-equipped with financial and banking lawyers with a comprehensive understanding of banking and financial issues in Vietnam.

The firm has a team of experienced lawyers advising clients on structuring and executing finance transactions, including the creation and implementation of securitisation structures in different types of securities offerings, asset-backed securities and mortgage-backed securities.

ASL LAW also provides counsel in related areas such as bankruptcy, banking and capital markets law.

  • BAKER MCKENZIE VIETNAM
  • DFDL
  • EY LAW VIETNAM
  • KPMG LAW

EY Law Vietnam is the legal arm of the global accounting firm EY. Led by Anh Thuy Pham as the director and Michael Beckman as a partner, EY Law has acted for foreign and domestic clients across a wide range of industry sectors on various transactions in Vietnam.

The firm’s tax team consists of lawyers with a thorough understanding of the country’s complex tax, regulatory and commercial laws. With a multidisciplinary and one-stop-shop approach, the firm aims to reduce the gap between business advisers and legal counsel, increasing efficiency and speed to market while reducing costs.

  • DNA VIETNAM
  • FRASERS LAW COMPANY
  • LEXCOMM VIETNAM
  • TILLEKE & GIBBINS

THE JUDGING PROCESS

The winners of Asia Business Law Journal’s Vietnam Law Firm Awards 2023 were selected based on the votes, references and qualitative information received from in-house counsel and other legal professionals in Vietnam and around the world.

A voting form was posted on our website, inviting thousands of in-house counsel, lawyers at international law firms and other Vietnam-focused professionals to vote. At the same time, Vietnam law firms were asked to make submissions in support of their candidacy for the awards. These submissions, combined with research by Asia Business Law Journal’s editorial team, played a supporting role in the judging process.

All Vietnamese law firms were automatically eligible for inclusion in the awards process. As always, there were no fees or any other requirements for entry.

 

Recommended reading:

Read the Vietnam Top Lawyers list

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