Established in 1955, The Viet Nam Lawyers Association (VLA) is a “professional association” under the Viet Nam Union of Science and Technology Associations (VUSTA). It has more than 60,000 members, including judges, lawyers, prosecutors, government lawyers, notaries, law professors and law students. The operations of the VLA are guided by an Executive Board and a Standing Board, and managed by the Head Office in Ha Noi and by sub-national lawyers associations at the provincial, district and commune level. Currently the VLA has one central Office and 63 provincial branches in 63 provinces nation-wide. Each provincial branch in turn has a network down to district and commune level.
Being the largest legal organisation of the country, the VLA has been working closely with various government and judicial institutions in the drafting of new laws, training of lawyers, dissemination of legal information, the provision of legal aid, etc.
According to VLA statutes, VLA has the following functions and duties:
- Review and provide critical comments on draft laws, specifically those of importance to evolving reform process in Viet Nam. To fulfill this function annually VLA has commented an average of 20 draft laws and regulations.
- Review the existing laws to discover loopholes and impractical provisions to make recommendations for amendments to the competent bodies. In the past three years the VLA has made two submission papers annually to the Ministry of Justice, National Assembly and other concerned agencies to recommend amendments to the existing laws.
- Act as a platform for legal professionals to actively participate and contribute to the legal and judicial reform agenda;
- To disseminate legal knowledge to its members, civil servants and public at large through various means such as organizing training workshops, seminars, conferences, conducting researches, publishing books and press;
- Promote access to legal information and legal aid services for poor people and disadvantaged people. To fulfil this VLA has a network of 60 legal consultancy centers out of 63 provinces of the country, which provide legal aid to thousands of people each year. One of the strengths of VLA legal aid network is that it is a reliable address for citizens to seek advice when they have a petition against a state agency.