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30 years in Vietnam

In 1992 Bill Magennis obtained one of two experimental licences to operate Australian law firm Phillips Fox (PF) in Vietnam, during a time of dramatic economic and social reform and rapid export growth for the country.

By 2006, Vietnam had become a magnet for foreign law firms; PF had already established itself as a market leader and innovator, especially in major infrastructure projects, and its owners were looking to join a major international firm.

Allens Arthur Robinson (AAR) branded firms were operating from twelve offices in seven Asia Pacific countries but not in Vietnam. When AAR Singapore and Phnom Penh offices acted for BHP in relation to a large bauxite deposit straddling the Vietnam border and PF acted for BHP on the Vietnam side, a close relationship was forged. This led to AAR establishing offices in Vietnam and officially merging with PF in January 2007, trading thereafter as AAR and then Allens.

2022 Allens retreat

Allens Arthur Robinson team in the Ho Chi Minh City office, 2007

Bill Magennis and Nigel Russell at the opening ceremony of Phillips Fox's Ho Chi Minh City office, Thursday, 7 August 1997

Opening ceremony of Ho Chi Minh City office, Thursday, 7 August 1997

Managing Partner Richard Spurio meeting with the Vice Minister of Justice Nguyen Khanh Ngoc, 23 October 2019


Today the Allens offices in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City practise both local and international law and have advised on many of Vietnam’s most important large-scale projects and commercial transactions including Vietnam’s largest foreign invested project – the $9 billion Nghi Son Oil Refinery.

The team has grown significantly, with 41 people across its two offices, creating opportunities to support local people to establish successful careers in the legal profession. Together with our people and clients, we have helped shape a vibrant Vietnamese economy which now attracts unprecedented foreign investment, particularly in renewable energy projects and leading-edge private equity, capital markets and financing deals.

In December 2022, we celebrated 30 years in Vietnam, marking the milestone with our people including passionate young lawyers and those who have been part of our story in Vietnam for many years.

Reflections from our people in Vietnam

I could see during my first days here that the talented people were nurtured in an extremely healthy and positive working environment. This culture has helped Allens to continue to retain existing and attract new talented people in our team. So everyday I came to work, I expected that I could learn something new and valuable to my profession.

- Huong Tran

Nigel Russell and Phuc Nguyen at the BlueScope Steel site in Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province, 2003

My first impressions of Allens (then Phillips Fox) in Vietnam were amongst my very first impressions of Vietnam itself - I was an outsider, but felt very welcome, and excited to be there as the country, and Phillips Fox Vietnam, opened to the world.

- Nigel Russell

Allens has been one of the leading firms assisting Vietnam with its renewable energy push into wind and solar power as it pivots away from relying on fossil fuels to meets its future power needs - a welcome development for both the local and international climate. It is now at the forefront of the private equity, banking, capital markets and securities fields as Vietnam continues to rapidly develop into a leading regional economy.

- Robert Fish

Melissa Keane with Richard Spurio and the Hanoi office team, 2019

I loved the Allens Vietnam offices the minute I stepped into them. A beautiful, caring family, passionate about what they do, incredible worth ethic, curious minds, and a lot of fun!

The firm has played an instrumental role in making foreign investment happen in Vietnam – starting with its translation service of key laws, all the way through to the generosity of the team in giving their time to draft laws that paved the way for foreign investors to choose Vietnam as a home for their investments.

- Melissa Keane

When I started working for Allens (known then as Phillips Fox), what impressed me the most was the professionalism and work ethic of foreign lawyers at an international law firm. The founding team of foreign lawyers really set up the culture of entrepreneurship, excellence and persistence that the Vietnam offices continue to honour to this day.  

- Bach Hoang Ha

Allens team in Ho Chi Minh City office, 2022

It has been a pleasure to be part of the team of Allens Vietnam over the last 10 years. To me, Allens is more than just a workplace: it is where I can learn, share, explore my potential and become better every day.

- Hai Nguyen

I am proud to be a part of Allens, not many international firms manage to adapt to and thrive in such a fast-changing legal climate like Vietnam. Moreover, due to the firm's long history in Vietnam, I benefit professionally from the vast amount of precedents and experiences of those before me. With our work in the energy landscape, in particular renewable energy sector, I hope we can contribute to Vietnam's transition in a cleaner and more sustainable future.

- Hoang Anh Tran