Quyen Hoang, managing partner of Vietnam’s LNT & Partners, joined the firm in 2010. Apart from heading the firm’s corporate/M&A practice group, Hoang also has expertise in life insurance laws and regulations.
Prior to joining LNT & Partners, Hoang was chief counsel and head of PR for a U.S. insurance company, where she was a member of the executive board. Before this, she worked as an in-house counsel for British American Tobacco (Vietnam).
ALB: What was the path you took to becoming a lawyer?
Hoang: There was a time when I thought that I was unlucky to be born a girl in a small village in Vietnam where people looked down on girls. I decided to make those who thought lowly of women regret their outdated views, and I thought that no one would dare to look down on a woman who was a lawyer. But there was no school or college in my small village. So at, fourteen, I left home to study in different towns, ending up in Ho Chi Minh City. With such motivation, I completed my LL.B degree at 20, making me two years younger than my classmates.
After graduation, I wanted to enhance my legal knowledge through an international training programme. I received a full scholarship for an LL.M in the U.S., but turned it down because I had to support my sisters. Instead, I took a number of training courses in Vietnam, Sweden and Egypt, and in 2007, I took the LL.M degree in the UK.
In 1998, I started my professional career by spending my first two years working at a medium-size law firm providing a wide range of commercial law services. Following that, I spent nearly nine years as an in-house counsel. In 2010, I decided to return to where I started, joining a law firm as a partner, and have since been enjoying every moment with the firm till date. With my nine-year-experience working in multinational corporations, I brought to the firm management skills, which were considered “lacking” by other professionals who have been spending all their time doing legal work.
Currently, LNT & Partners is my second sweet home. I could hardly live without it.
ALB: How would you describe your strategy for the firm?
Hoang: Providing quality work with innovative and practical solutions to our clients.
Nowadays, the availability of advanced technology has made it easier for clients to access legal information than it was ten years ago. It’s important for us to provide practical solutions rather than repeating the laws or provisions. We aim to provide our clients with solutions or recommendations rather than simply extracting legal documents.
ALB: What are some of the big challenges the firm has been facing in the past few months, and how are you looking to tackle them?
Hoang: The COVID-19 lockdown and border closure have caused difficulties to all economic sectors including law firms, especially local firms which are not members of well-established international networks. We did not receive any new work during the two-month lockdown in Vietnam. Below is a summary of our actions during this challenging period:
HR: We decided to implement the work-from-home policy for the firm during the initial days of the pandemic to make sure that our people’s health, the most important asset of the firm, is fully protected. When the lockdown eased, we encouraged everyone to carry out research and write articles while we organised internal online training on a weekly basis to keep the momentum going and encouraged our people to attend webinars to learn and share knowledge.
Finance: At the early stage of the lockdown, we discussed with the finance team to control and reduce unnecessary costs. At the same time, we managed cash-flow and made sure we could cover our costs in case there would be no new work in the next six to nine-month period.
BD: We boosted our online marketing strategy to remind clients of our services. During quitter days, we focused on building and improving our online marketing channels such as website, Facebook, LinkedIn and all other social media platforms to attract more views from potential clients.
Thanks to these efforts, we are quite busy at the moment with many new projects from our existing and new clients.
ALB: How do you feel the pandemic will reshape not just the way your firm operates, but also the legal services industry in Vietnam?
Hoang: Due to the pandemic, most of the offline seminars have gone online. It’s interesting for me to attend an international seminar in my office while having my lunch. There are certain benefits from this: less travel, less pollution.
I think the legal services industry will be reshaped. Law firms will rely more on online resources and will need to be prepared and ready to cope with the new conditions.
ALB: How would you describe your hiring and talent retention strategy? What kinds of lawyers would make the best fit for your firm?
Hoang: We build our talent from fresh graduates. We aim to promote internally and provide all our members equal opportunities to become partners. We have two partners who started out as junior associates at the firm around ten years ago. The spirit of teamwork have always been encouraged within LNT. Being voted ALB Employer of Choice by LNTers for four times (2020, 2019, 2018, 2016) is proof of the effectiveness of our strategy.
ALB: How would you describe your approach to technology? How has the use of tech at your firm evolved since you started at the helm, and what is your blueprint for the next year or two?
Hoang: We believe that technology is key to our success. We are the pioneers in building our own technology system to manage timesheets and cases. We have spent years with an IT company to explain and educate the IT team about our process. Thanks to all the efforts, LNT & Partners is the only local firm that has its own IT system developed by local IT experts. We are still working with IT experts to improve our IT system to cope with evolving technological challenges.
ALB: What are the keys to succeeding in this market for a firm of your size and focus? What are you currently doing well, and what are potential areas of improvement for you?
Hoang: We differentiate ourselves from other local firms by providing quality work with innovative and practical solutions to our clients. While we value new clients, we treasure returning clients. Currently, our returning clients are quite stable and we are happy to see that new clients are staying with us for a long time.
Communicating in professional, native-like English is an area which needs improving. We are trying to provide our employees with more opportunities to improve their linguistic capabilities.
ALB: What motto do you live by?
Hoang: Never give up. Keep trying even when there is a little hope.
ALB Conversations is a weekly series of in-depth Q&As with leaders of law firms and in-house legal departments across Asia. If you are a managing partner or general counsel based in the region who is interested in being a part of this series, please send an email to email@example.com.