Ho Chi Minh City – A City Guide for Legal Professionals

Ho Chi Minh City, commonly known as Saigon, is a city with a rich culture and history. War relics from the devastating Vietnam War that lasted 20 years, and left a profound impact on the country’s economy, can still be found in the city.

From a war torn country to emerging as one of the world’s fastest-growing economies, Vietnam has come a long way. The city whose fall marked the end of the devastating war is now a major commercial and financial hub of Vietnam.  Here is a quick guide to help lawyers and legal professionals effectively navigate this fascinating city during their visits.

Getting around Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City’s metro line is still under construction and there may be crazy traffic and congestion due to the undergoing metro construction at some places. However, you can still get around the city easily.

Taxi: Taxis are one of the easiest and most convenient ways of getting around Ho Chi Minh City. They are easy to hail and inexpensive. You can also book a cab or a motorcycle taxi through the Grab app.

Motorcycle Taxi (Xe Om): Motorcycles dominate the roads of the city and motorcycle taxis are another convenient way of getting around.

Cyclo: The three-wheeled cyclo can be mostly found at popular landmarks, temples, and restaurants. Once a popular mode of transportation, it is not so common anymore and limited to short trips.

Bus: There are more than 100 bus lines and routes around Ho Chi Minh City and these are a great way of exploring the city on budget. If you chose to travel by bus, you may download the Bus Map App to find all the routes and schedules.

Hotels, Restaurants, Shopping and Entertainment

Most of the City’s luxury hotels are located in District 1. Here you’ll also find some stunning boutique hotels reflecting a unique blend of French colonial and contemporary Vietnamese architecture.

The district is also home to some of the best restaurants and shopping centers and malls of the city. Some of the major landmarks of the city are also located in this area. It is a compact district that can be easily explored on foot.

District 1 is vibrant, touristy and bustling with travelers. However if you prefer a quiet and relaxing place, District 2 is the best area to stay for you. It is an upscale neighborhood by the Saigon River, home to a majority of the expats in the city.

It is far from the city centre and tourist attractions but there are hotels that offer complimentary boat shuttle that will take you to the centre of the city in 15 minutes.

Here are a  few places that are worth visiting on a short trip in Saigon.

  • War Remnants Museum
  • Cu Chi Tunnels
  • Reunification Palace
  • Jade Emperor Pagoda
  • Cao Dai Temple
  • Riverboat tour

Ho Chi Minh City Legal Resources

History of the Vietnam legal profession

In 1946 the Vietnamese legal organization was set up under which the lawyers who had a license to practice before 1945 were required to undertake legal education.

In 1986, Vietnam began to open the doors to introduce reform policies, and set up a private legal practice association.  In 1987, the government issued the ordinance on lawyers.

In 2001, the government again revised the ordinance of 1987. Under the new ordinance, Vietnam tried to open up more to the international community, and they began to negotiate and then sign a US bilateral trade agreement.

In 2007, Vietnam joined the World Trade Organization (WTO).

As a result of increased training opportunities, lawyers in Vietnam enjoy a much more advanced access to education and opportunities.  While 99% of Vietnamese lawyers have been trained at the judicial academy, there is an increasing number of Vietnamese lawyers who have trained abroad or are practicing law with international firms in Vietnam.

Foreign Law Firms & Lawyers in Vietnam

Foreign lawyers have been present in Vietnam since early 1990.  At that time, foreign law firms in Vietnam could only open representative offices, but could not practice law.

In 1998, the government issued Decree 92 which allowed a foreign law firms to  practice law in Vietnam.

The year 2006 saw a new law on lawyers allowing foreign law firms to represent their clients in litigation cases, provided the lawyer who attends the trial is a Vietnamese lawyer.

According to the Ministry of Justice, by the end of 2010, Vietnam had 51 branches of foreign law firms.

Vietnam Law & Legal Forum

Published monthly in English by Vietnam News Agency, since September 1994, Vietnam Law & Legal Forum magazine is a reliable resource for those who wish to inquire into Vietnamese laws and policies.

The OFFICIAL GAZETTE  is the English translation of new legal documents printed in the Government Office’s Công Báo. Since September 1994 more than 7,000 legal documents on different domains have been translated into English and published in the Official Gazette.

Vietnam Bar Associations

Following are the two bar associations of Vietnam:

  • Bar Association of Hanoi
  • Vietnam Bar Federation

Top Law Firms in Ho Chi Minh City

Listed below are a few of the top law firms in the Ho Chi Minh City Area:

  • Allens
  • Baker & McKenzie
  • AV Law LLC
  • D.S. Avocats
  • Kevin Chia Partnership
  • Tilleke & Gibbins International, Ltd.

Law Firms in Vietnam

Following are a few of the top law firms in Vietnam:

  • EPLegal
  • LNT & Partners
  • DFDL, Ho Chi Minh City
  • DFDL, Hanoi
Latham & Watkins

Clifford Chance loses Korea head

Kim Hyun-suk, the head of Clifford Chance’s Korea office, will soon leave the firm, marking the latest in a series of exits from the UK firm’s Seoul operation. The Korea practice will now be led by Hong Kong-based partner Richard Lee and Seoul-based counsel Bong-Sang Cho, Clifford Chance confirmed to ALB. Kim has been based in Seoul since Clifford Chance established an office there in 2012, becoming one of the first international firms to do so.  He began his relationship with the firm in 2009 while based in Hong Kong, where he progressed to partner.

Since last year, Clifford Chance has lost four lawyers who focus on the Korea market, including Kwangwoo Kim, a former associate who is now an executive director at Goldman Sachs, and Angela Ryu who was based in Hong Kong, but is now with Allen & Overy in the UK. The firm, which assists international corporations, banks and financial institutions, and regulatory bodies in Korea, now has three counsels based in Seoul, according to its website. There has been a fair amount of movement with Seoul’s legal market recently.

Last year, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett closed its Seoul office, while US firms Shearman & Sterling and Arnold & Porter have also reportedly gained licenses to establish Korea offices this year. Korea opened up its legal market in 2012, following free trade agreements with the US and the European Union – agreements which are now under scrutiny as the possibility of no-deal Brexit approaches.  There are currently five UK-headquartered firms operating in Korea.

Manila – A City Guide for Lawyers and Legal Professionals

Known as the “pearl of the orient” during Spanish rule, the City of Manila withstood many natural disasters, colonial occupations and war, is now a thriving metropolis.

While it may still be a stopover for most tourists before heading to the islands, Manila has become a destination of choice for expats. It is a center of economic growth with a steady and increasing influx of foreign investment.

It is also a densely populated city of contrasts. This huge city can be chaotic and confusing for first time visitors. Here is a quick guide to help lawyers and legal professionals effectively navigate Manila during their visits.

Getting Around Manila

Getting around Manila is easy. You have the option to rent a car, hire a taxi or take a bus, jeepney, LRT or MRT.  However, for a visitor who’s not acquainted with the city, a taxi is the most convenient way of getting around.

You can also book a cab through the Grab app. Grab booths are available at the airport as well. So if you don’t have access to Wifi or internet on arrival at the airport, you still can easily book a ride with Grab.

UBE Express Bus is another convenient way of getting to the hotel from the airport. It’s an air-conditioned bus service with designated stops along several routes. You can either buy tickets at the airport kiosks or through the UBE Express booking website.


Rent a Pocket Wifi Device: You can rent a pocket wifi device for uninterrupted wifi access from Konbini Rentals or  GoLocal. They either deliver the wifi device to your hotel a day before you arrive or offer pickup and drop off at the airport.

Hotels, Restaurants, Shopping, and Entertainment

The City of Makati, which is the country’s financial as well as cultural and entertainment hub, is one of the best areas to stay in Manila. You’ll find here a wide range of accommodations to suit all budgets.

It also offers easy access to shopping malls and markets and plenty of restaurants — all at walking distance or within a short drive.

If you are going to have a short stay, here’s a quick list of places you may want to check out.

  • Intramuros
  • Fort Santiago
  • Casa Manila
  • Poblacion, Makati
  • Juan Luna’s Spoliarium at the National Museum
  • Manila Ocean Park
  • Greenhills Shopping Center

Philippines Legal Resources

Integrated Bar of the Philippines:  IBP is the official organization of lawyers in the Philippines. It was established as an official organization for the legal profession by Republic Act No. 6397. The law confirmed the constitutional power of the Philippine Supreme Court to adopt rules for the integration of the Philippine Bar. Consequently, Presidential Decree 181 constituted the IBP into a corporate body in 1973.

You can find regional & comparative resources, case law & legislation, books & Journals and more legal resources on the Southeast Asian Legal Research Guide.

Top Law Firms in the Philippines

Following are a few of the top law firms in the Philippines:

  • Martinez Vergara Gonzalez & Serrano
  • PunoLaw
  • Fernando Lagman and Avenida Law
  • Agcaoili & Associates
  • Castillo Laman Tan Pantaleon & San Jose Law Firm

Legal Events in the Philippines

Asia Law Portal promotes legal events in the Asia-Pacific Region on our blog and widely followed social media channels. For more information please contact us.

Follow Leaders in Law to get more news and updates on recent and upcoming legal events in the Asia-Pacific legal markets.

Leader’s in Laws “Find a Lawyer”

Clients can find lawyers in the Philippines via Leaders in Law’s “Find a Lawyer” section, which contains listings of law firms practicing in the Asia-Pacific region, including the Philippines.


KMW expands in HK with partner duo from Mayer Brown

King & Wood Mallesons has hired two partners in Hong Kong: Ashley Wong joins the firm as its local aviation head from Mayer Brown, while Wang Yu joins as a partner from Morrison & Foerster, where he was of counsel.

Wong, has over 15 years of experience in aviation matters, advising airlines, leasing companies, maintenance and repair organisations and other market players on aircraft portfolio acquisitions and disposals, pre-delivery payments financing, sale and lease-back arrangements, acquisitions and disposals of new and used aircraft and engines, dry leasing and wet leasing of aircraft, long-term airframe and engine maintenance arrangements and other commercial arrangements.

Wang has more than 10 years of experience advising on securities offerings, private equity and other corporate transactions. He represents corporate clients, investment banks and private equity funds on transactional matters including capital markets, private equity and financial derivative products.  Wong and Wang join KWM a couple of months after the firm hired Ling Huang as a partner in its Beijing office.

30 people to watch in the business of law in Asia in 2019

The Asia-Pacific legal markets in 2018 were characterized by trends including the exponential growth of technology deployment and innovation; the growing efforts of elite regional and local firms to adapt, innovate and compete; the potential limitations (and growth) in market access for foreign law firms; the expansion and diversification of alternative legal services firms, the expansion of the legal ecosystem surrounding China’s Belt and Road infrastructure initiative; the continued growth in legal startup activity; the competition for market share in Asia’s growing arbitration market; and the ongoing efforts by those who serve as consultants to the sector to best identify challenges and opportunities the region represents to law firms and legal services sector companies.  Based on these trends and the suggestions of Asia Law Portal readers, below please find the 2019 edition of 30 people to watch in the business of law in Asia:

  1. Teresa Cheng  – Secretary for Justice, Hong Kong – In a November, 2018 article, Anna Zhang reported that Hong Kong is making a big push to become the dominant Asia-Pacific locale for cross-border dispute resolution and international arbitration. “Arbitration lawyers say [Cheng’s] knowledge and expertise on the nuts and bolts of international arbitration will be an asset to Hong Kong and its efforts in building itself up as the region’s top dispute resolution destination” — amid ferocious competition from other cities seeking to become Asia’s arbitration hub, including Singapore, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur and Seoul, among others.
  2. Melissa Kaye Pang – President, Law Society of Hong Kong and Partner, Pang & Associates – As Elizabeth Beattie detailed in Asian Legal Business in November, 2018, the Hong Kong Law Society has proposed some new restrictions on foreign lawyers. Pang has explained the proposed rules “do not change the law but are merely clarifications.” Anna Zhang and John Kang detail the newly proposed rules and the objections to those rules by foreign lawyers in
  3. Nozomu Tsunoda – Founder, LegalForce Inc. As Beaumont Enterprise detailed recently: “LegalForce Inc. was established in [2017], and is led by 31-year-old lawyer Nozomu Tsunoda, who quit a leading law firm to go into business for himself. Even with only seven employees, Tokyo-based LegalForce checks contract documents such as a confidentiality agreement between companies.”  The service is already being used by several Japanese corporations.
  4. John Kang – Business of Law Reporter, The Asian Lawyer/The American Lawyer – Based in Hong Kong, Kang covers the business of law in Asia and Australia. His coverage of the region’s legal markets is superb in its’ depth and insight.  He’s a must-read for anyone seeking up-to date and highly informed insight into the region’s legal market.
  5. Elizabeth Beattie – Asian Legal Business – Beattie joined Asian Legal Business as a reporter in the fall of 2018 and her coverage immediately became essential reading for anyone interested in the business of law in the Asia-Pacific legal markets.
  6. Lesley Hobbs – Chief Executive Officer, Cognatio Law – Hobbs founded NewLaw firm Cognatio in early 2018. A veteran of NewLaw, Hobbs is very well placed to guide Cognatio to a successful future in the increasingly competitive Asia-Pacific region NewLaw marketplace.
  7. Kareena Teh– EY Litigation, Hong Kong – As John Kang detailed in early December 2018, Teh was part of a team recruited by EY to build out the Big4 firm’s disputes capability. In 2014, Eric Chin explained the competitive threat the Big4 accounting firms pose to BigLaw in Asia.  This threat has expanded over time and the appointment of The is an example of the Big4’s drive to compete for one of the most lucrative areas of legal work in the Asia-Pacific region.
  8. Estefania Altuve – Head of Client Solutions, KorumLegal. A unique NewLaw story in the Asia-Pacific region, Korum was founded in 2015 in Hong Kong, and has quickly expanded not only in the Asia-Pacific region, but also into the EMEA region from a base in London. Most NewLaw firms have understandably focused on some of the major centers of corporate activity in Asia – Hong Kong, Singapore and Sydney.  But as Altuve has explained, the firm has remotely served clients in Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Japan and South Korea.  The firm is also now in initial conversations about the possibility of opening offices in Australia and New Zealand.
  9. Yolanda Chan – General Manager, Asia-Pacific, Axiom Law – Asia’s pioneer NewLaw firm named Chan General Manager for Asia-Pacific in December, 2018. “Chan brings a strong managerial and technology background to her new role, with more than 20 years of APAC experience with industry-leading brands including Fitbit, Promethean, and Microsoft”, as the firm detailed in announcing Chan’s appointment.
  10. John Chisholm – Australia-based Chisholm is among the world’s most respected consultants to the legal profession on strategy and management, having previously served as Managing Partner and Chief Executive to two leading Australian law firms. In October 2018, Chisholm was inducted into The College of Law Practice Management, “which honors and recognizes distinguished law practice management professionals” throughout the world.
  11. Mathew Chako – Partner, Spice Route Legal – Mathew helped found the firm in 2016, which has offices in Mumbai, Bangalore, Delhi and Kochi and extensive affiliations across South East Asia, China, Japan, Europe and the Americas. As the firm details, it “is built on the idea that modern commerce respect neither jurisdictional boundaries nor traditional notions of compartmentalized competence”. The firm is, therefore, “cross-jurisdictional, multi-disciplinary and focused on providing effective, efficient and practical transactional, advisory and regulatory legal assistance”.
  12. Patrick Dransfield – Co-Director, In-House Community, which comprises over 20,000 in-house lawyers and compliance officers across Asia, the Middle East and Africa. A regular writer on the business of law, his writings are integral for anyone seeking a deeper understanding of the legal landscape in the Asia-Pacific region.
  13. Laurent Tam Nguyen – Vietnam-based, Nguyen has more than twenty-five years’ experience leading marketing and business development operations in b2b professional services, e-business and commercial property.  His experience includes heading regional communications and marketing initiatives for leading ASEAN-region legal services organizations including ZICO Group and DFDL.  In addition, he is General Manager & Founder of Digital Mekong.
  14. Sarah Mateljan – Australia-based Co-founder of legal startup LawCPD, which provides lawyers with the means to complete their mandatory continuing professional development requirements through online learning.
  15. Robert Gilardino – Shanghai-based Partner with Horizons Advisory, which recently established the China Collaborative Group (CCG), a “multidisciplinary legal services collective…designed to provide Chinese clients with cohesive strategic solutions that facilitate cross-border investment under the Belt and Road Initiative and other global economic trade platforms.”
  16. Rika Beppu – Founding member and chair of Women in Law Japan and Partner, Squire Patton Boggs – As Vantage Asia details in an article in July, 2018: “Rika Beppu has more than 20 years’ experience advising on corporate M&A, joint ventures and commercial projects in London, Hong Kong and Tokyo, most recently with Squire Patton Boggs. But in addition to her legal expertise is her strong commitment to gender equality in her position as founding member and chair of Women in Law Japan.” “Now in its third year, we have more than 300 members and supporters who gather for events five times a year. The most exciting development this year is the launch of a mentoring programme across the legal profession in Tokyo,” As Beppu explains.
  17. Ivan Lalamentik, Jakarta-based startup lawyer and Founder of – a tech-enabled legal startup which focuses on simplifying legal administration processes to help clients obtain “hassle-free administrative legal documentation with certainty, cost-effective[ness] and transparency.”
  18. Dion Cusack, President, Australasian Law Practice Management Association (ALPMA) – The Melbourne-based senior law practice management professional recently became leader of one of Australia’s most important legal services sector management organizations. In recent years ALPMA has expanded its’ reach to host an annual APAC region law practice management forum in Singapore.
  19. Rohan Mahajan, Founder, Founded in 2013, the New Delhi-based company provides “an interactive online platform that makes it faster and easier to find and hire the best Lawyers in any city/court in India”.
  20. Ying Mei Lum, Chief Technology Officer, MahWengKwai (MWKA), Director, MWKA Technologies – MahWengKwai & Associates’ recently “set up its own technology research and development arm based in Singapore, under MWKA Technologies Pte Ltd, a member of ACCESS (the Singapore Cryptocurrency and Blockchain Industry Association) and Singapore Fintech Association. The research and development team, specialising in mobile strategy, digital transformation and the crossroads of fintech + law is led by Ying Mei Lum” (a Big4 management alumnus who recently was MWK’s COO and continues to remain the firm’s CTO). MWKA Technologies also offers advisory and project management services to the firm’s clients “who wish to explore these technologies to maintain or increase their competitive advantage.”
  21. Kanmani Gobal, Business Development Manager, Lee Hishammuddin Allen & Gledhill (LHAG) – Kuala Lumpur-based Gobal joined elite Malaysian law firm LHAG after helping the Asian International Arbitration Centre (AIAC) complete a major re-brand from its previous identity: the Kuala Lumpur Regional Centre for Arbitration.  Gobal’s experience now spans both work to help a regional arbitration centre and a local elite firm gain competitive advantage amid unique competitive legal environments.
  22. Jonathan Wong – Founder, Law Guide Singapore – As Wong details: “LawGuide Singapore is Singapore’s fastest-growing and most-followed online legal information portal and platform in terms of social media reach and engagement…[with a] mission to give consumers easier access to basic law-related information to help them make better decisions and ultimately to help provide greater access to justice – through web, digital content, social media and Singapore’s first AI legal chatbot[emphasis added]
  23. Daniel Himpson, Head of Business Development, Asia-Pacific, Lex Mundi. In July, 2018, Shanghai-based Himpson was selected to lead strategy and business development for elite global legal alliance LexMundi in the Asia-Pacific region.
  24. David Eyerly, Communications and Business Development Director, SSEK Legal Consultants. Jakarta-based Eyerly, a long-time professional writer and editor, has helped position SSEK as one of the most well-recognized law firms in Indonesia through, among a range of efforts, the firms superb Indonesia Law Blog and social media presence.   This provides SSEK with a decided advantage in Indonesia as against existing domestic and potential foreign competitors in a market which in 2014 Hong Kong-based legal services management consultant Nick Seddon called “the most significant regional opportunity for foreign law firms”.
  25. Pixie Cigar – Chapter Co-Head, Legal Hackers Kuala Lumpur (one of Asia’s most important ecosystems of legal innovation) explains that: “My goal is to develop the legal Tech Community in Malaysia and enhance the innovation & efficiency of Law through technology.”

(26-30) The team at Lawtech.Asia  – (“Southeast Asia’s foremost Law & Technology Review”) — As Lawtech.Asia details: “The march of technological advancements is unrelenting. Yet, there is a paucity of understanding about how these developments will influence – and are influenced by – underrepresented regions such as Southeast Asia (SEA). This is where we come in. LawTech.Asia hopes to bring a unique perspective to the discourse surrounding law, technology and policy issues… LawTech.Asia is currently run by a small team of law students and law graduates based in Singapore who are interested in the intersection of law and technology. However, our mission is not exclusive to certain specialties or nationalities. Those with the right fit, talent and passion are always welcome – please contact us if you’d like to join us in growing this together!”

  1. Josh Lee (Kok Thong) – “presently serves as a Legal Policy Officer and Criminologist in the Legal Policy Division in Singapore’s Ministry of Law…”
  2. Amelia Chew – “graduated with a double degree in Law and Liberal Arts from the National University of Singapore and Yale-NUS College and joined Luminance as a Legal Product Expert…”
  3. Jennifer Lim — “graduated from the National University of Singapore, Faculty of Law in 2017. Growing up designing websites and dabbling with HTML, she sees legal technology as a perfect marriage of both her loves: technology and the law…”
  4. Wan Ding Yao – “is a rising 2L in the Singapore Management University School of Law. Having a keen interest in the technical aspects of cyber security, he presently leads the School of Information System’s Whitehat Society…”
  5. Irene Ng (Huang Ying) – “is a corporate and legal counsel at a Singaporean listed company and a PhD Candidate at the University of Vienna…”