Vietnamese law firms agitate for restrictions on foreign law firms

November 13, 2012 Leading Vietnamese law firms have started a campaign encouraging the government to impose greater restrictions on foreign law firms operating in the country.
 
Vietnam is one of the most open markets in Asia for foreign firms, which are free to hire local lawyers and practice local law, though they are prohibited from appearing in court or signing official documents.

18 Vietnamese firms submitted a letter last month to the Vietnamese Ministry of Justice advocating stricter regulation of foreign firms. The group argued that the 'open door' policy toward foreign lawyers had hindered “the formation of a healthy and equal legal environment for the development of a force of Vietnamese lawyers who would be dynamic and professional, and who would possess qualifications tantamount to those of the lawyers in the region and in the world.”
 
The foreign legal community responded with its own letter, signed by 11 international firms including Baker & McKenzie, Allens, Freshfields, and Gide Loyrette Nouel. The international firms argued that they have become increasingly Vietnamese in character over the years as more and more Vietnamese citizen lawyers took up leadership roles. They also noted that the open legal market has helped Vietnam attract foreign investment and assisted foreign clients to navigate and become comfortable in the jurisdiction.

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