On our final day in Hanoi, there were various opportunities to meet with local Vietnamese delegates. Our day began with a brief, but meaningful, engagement with the Vietnam Lawyer’s Association (“VLA”). At VLA’s headquarters, we had the honor of meeting the President of the VLA, Pham Quoc Anh. Professor Thanh and Dr. Hai, who previously introduced us to the intricacies of the Vietnamese legal system during earlier study sessions this week, accompanied President Anh. Then, the collective group began discussing the potential for future collaboration between The John Marshall Law School (“JMLS”) and the VLA. Some suggestions for future collaboration included faculty and student exchanges and potential clerkships at Vietnamese law firms. The Vietnamese delegates present at our meeting also underscored the importance of expanding and redefining the Vietnamese legal system, based on knowledge gained from other international exchanges. This was a very significant day for both VLA and The John Marshall Law School since President Anh acknowledged that this was the first official visit to Vietnam by any American law school. Ultimately, this session culminated in the presentation of honorary VLA memberships to Dean Ruebner, Teresa Do, Professor Dana, and the JMLS students. Dean Ruebner also presented President Anh the commemorative Chief Justice John Marshall medallion.
Next, we visited the Law and Life Newspaper headquarters. During this meeting, we discovered that the Law and Life Newspaper is the main source of legal information disseminated to the Vietnamese public. It operates under the authority of VLA. There are at least 200,000 copies of the Law and Life Newspaper distributed each year; there is also an internet version of the newspaper, called the Messenger, made available to the public. The Law and Life and Messenger staff stressed that the purpose of this newspaper is to provide articles commenting on current legal events in Vietnam, while simultaneously remaining within the parameters of Vietnamese law. At one point, both Vietnamese delegates and JMLS representatives engaged in a stimulating discussion concerning the differences in freedom of the press and free speech laws between the United States and Vietnam. These differences included defamation and speech relating to public officials. One of the most signicant topics that was addressed in this session was the restrictions placed on the dissemination of information by the Vietnamese government, including the recent arrests of Vietnamese bloggers. At the conclusion of our conference, the Law and Life Newspaper proposed a lasting relationship with JMLS to aid the publication in its Information Technology and Intellectual Property programs, as well as the exploration of Internet Law. More specifically, JMLS’ Center for Information Technology and Privacy Law and Center for Intellectual Property Law would be of particular aid to the Law and Life Newspaper. Vietnamese representatives emphasized the importance of developing this area of law in Vietnam.
We then visited the United States Embassy in Hanoi where we met with a number of Embassy staff members to discuss the current situation in Vietnam concerning human rights conditions.
Towards the end of our day, we returned to the Galaxy Law Firm, where we learned more about the inner-workings of the firm, its offices, and its specialized areas of law. We also had the opportunity to browse the law firm’s website which featured our visit on the homepage. You can see this at: http://galaxylawfirm.com.vn/index.php?lang=en
We then discussed a potential future relationship with the Galaxy Law Firm. Mr. Pham Minh Duc, founding partner of Galaxy, wrote us a letter outlining the possible benefits of a lasting connection with the firm, including: studying Vietnamese legal documents; exchanging students and faculty between Vietnam and the United States; providing legal services in Vietnam for American individuals and corporations; organizing study sessions in Vietnam for additional JMLS students; and interacting with government authorities to develop new educational programs.
Finally, we said “goodbye” to our new friends in Hanoi, especially: Mr. Hung, whose expert translations assisted our further understanding of the Vietnamese legal system and whose presence we soon hope to see at JMLS, and the VLA, Dr . Hai, and Mr. Duc, whose overwhelming generosity and hospitality will not soon be forgotten!
Meghan Tribe and Julie Gerding