Interview with: Duyen Ha Vo, Chairperson

VILAF | View firm profile

What do you see as the main points that differentiate VILAF from your competitors?

VILAF focuses on advising cross-border M&A and financing transactions, foreign direct investments, and cross-border disputes. We host the largest teams of English speaking senior Vietnamese lawyers in the country and are best known for delivering complex transaction structures and for the responsiveness in customizing service packages which cater to client’s needs and culture requirements. We claim to be expert at navigating the complexity of Vietnamese laws.

We are also capable of providing legal services in some practice areas where very few law firms in Vietnam have expertise, such as fintech, infrastructure and energy, TMT, financial derivatives, capital markets, etc.

Lastly and most importantly, our team of lawyers have all been handpicked by the firm. Not only do they have excellent educational background, but they have also been trained and mentored by our capable senior lawyers.

Which practices do you see growing in the next 12 months? What are the drivers behind that?

The impact of COVID-19 and the recent corporate objectives of diversification of supply chains have made Southeast Asia more attractive destinations for new investments and M&A activities than many other parts of the world. At the same time, the impact of COVID-19 also pushes certain corporate groups to see the need to look for good acquisition targets in the region to build resilience and diversity through supply chain alternatives and customer base, while it pushes certain other corporate groups to implement restructuring to be more efficient and liquid.

In light of the above, M&A activities will likely increase in Vietnam during the post-COVID-19 months. Vietnam will likely continue to present opportunities for M&A in infrastructure and energy, industrials, digital technology and infrastructure, media and consumer goods. After the Government settles clarifications of the legal framework and policies for real estate investments, there is also a hope that M&A activities for real estate projects will become active again.

On the other hand, if the Covid-19 epidemic lasts longer, we may expect a further increasing portion of work relating to restructuring, reorganization, litigation, and arbitration while the increase in M&A activities will likely be more moderate.

What’s the main change you’ve made in the firm that will benefit clients?

We have initiated several internal structural changes during the last several years to make our services more cost- efficient to clients, our lawyers more motivated and dedicated, and staff in general better mentored and trained in the work. The changes have contributed to an increase of staff satisfaction and the firm’s overall billing and profitability.

Is technology changing the way you interact with your clients, and the services you can provide them?

Yes, it definitely is, and this has become more so during the Covid-19 epidemic. In telecommunicating with clients more and more often now on a daily basis, we are embracing digital transformations to accommodate clients’ technology requirements.

Can you give us a practical example of how you have helped a client to add value to their business?

In the particular legal environment in Vietnam, among values we add to clients’ business are our experiences about how the laws and policies operate and evolve and our readiness to listen first to their business needs and perspectives, have helped our clients prepared well in advance from day one to avoid possible nuisances, difficulties, issues as well as unexpected losses arising from the way the laws operate in different ways from those expected in many other countries. Evaluating those issues with accuracy and developing solutions to mitigate them is the value we provide.