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.
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
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
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
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