Exchange Program Helps Strengthen Ties Between Vietnamese and American Lawyers

November 2011

From May 22–31, the ABA Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) brought four U.S. delegates to participate in a nine-day study tour in Vietnam. A second phase of an exchange program supported by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the tour was organized to strengthen the relationship between the U.S. and Vietnamese legal professions.

With support from ABA ROLI, the nascent Vietnam Bar Federation (VBF) hosted American experts Marc R. Kadish, director of pro bono activities for Mayer, Brown LLP; Paula Littlewood, executive director of the Washington State Bar Association; Theodore Myhre, professor at the University of Washington School of Law; and Mark I. Schickman, member of the American Bar Association (ABA) Board of Governors and chair of ABA’s Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service. As this was the first time the VBF hosted an international delegation, the exchange marked a historic moment for the organization. The program promoted an autonomous, engaged and ethically responsible Vietnamese bar with greater capacity to lead efforts to build a legal system protective of citizens’ rights and the rule of law.

As a result of the information exchange, the VBF developed a Code of Conduct largely based on the Washington State Bar Association’s Code of Conduct. Since the end of the trip, the U.S. delegates have stayed in contact with their Vietnamese counterparts. They also share information about the Vietnamese culture and legal system with their American colleagues. Schickman, through his role as an ABA Board of Governors member, has connected VBF officials with other ABA sections, such as the Section on Domestic Violence and the Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service. Littlewood will continue to work with the VBF in developing their governing rules by sharing additional rules her association has adopted.

As part of the program, Vietnamese lawyers had visited the U.S. in 2009.

To learn more about our work in Vietnam, contact the ABA Rule of Law Initiative at rol@americanbar.org.

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