Current Issues and Challenges for Legal Education in a Globalized Context: A Case Study from Hanoi Law University, Vietnam

Published date01 July 2021
Date01 July 2021
Subject MatterArticles
Current Issues and Challenges for
Legal Education in a Globalized
Context: A Case Study from
Hanoi Law University, Vietnam
Phan Thi Lan Huong1 and Nguyen Thi Thuy2
Laws inevitably reflect political, social, and economic histories and more recent developments regardless
of jurisdiction. Recent years have brought significant and rapid change in legal context and practice.
Legal education must respond to this, if necessary with new methods and approaches to enable lawyers,
judges, prosecutors, and law enforcement officers to meet the requirements of what is now a global
market and to further serve the interests of society. Many lawyers are now expected to perform their
work in a domestic and wider context. The education system of Vietnam in general, and legal education
in particular, has raised many issues and challenges and the question remains—how to reform legal
education to meet relevant needs. This article describes and analyses current legal education provision
and identifies potential solutions for reform.
The Political and Legal Context
Since its establishment and especially after unication in 1975, Vietnam has strongly conrmed its
model as socialist country. The key principles for organization and operation of government have been
set out and include democratic centralism and established Communist Party principles. These shape the
structure of government apparatus in Vietnam. Contrasting with the Western concept of the separation of
powers, the democratic centralism principle, is a unied, top-down, model in which the National
Assembly is the highest state power body of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. Vietnam’s Constitution
of 1980 lays down this ideological stance. Turner-Gottschang, Feinerman and Guy note that:
Vietnam’s experience, is an excellent example of how a traditional Confucian-inuenced society has struggled
to this day in adapting Western legal concepts – from the French civil law tradition to Marxist – Leninist Soviet
models, to Doi Moi (‘internal renovation’), to today’s necessity of adapting to a more global market-driven world
1 Senior Law Lecturer, Deputy Head of International Cooperation Department of Hanoi Law University, Vietnam.
2 Senior Law Lecturer, Hanoi Law University, Vietnam.
Asian Journal of Legal Education
8(2) 158–174, 2021
© 2021 The West Bengal National
University of Juridical Sciences
Reprints and permissions:
DOI: 10.1177/23220058211028432
Corresponding author:
Phan Thi Lan Huong, Hanoi Law University, Hanoi, Vietnam.
Huong and Thuy 159
Signicantly, the Communist Party guides all aspects; the legal system is directly shaped by Party policy.
In the Constitution of 2013, Article 4 denes the leading role of the Communist Party as follows: ‘The
Communist Party of Vietnam - the Vanguard of the working class, concurrently the vanguard of the
labouring people and Vietnamese nation, faithfully representing the interests of the working class,
labouring people and entire nation, and acting upon the Marxist-Leninist doctrine and Ho Chi Minh
Thought, is the force leading the State and society’. The Party therefore takes the lead in policy-making
including administrative and judicial reform.
Democratic-centralism sees dependence on the state in whose name and authority power is concen-
trated. ‘Democratic’ here refers both to the duty and discretion of governmental organs in performing
their functions under the law, as well as encouraging the participation of all citizens in public life. This
combines the two components—democracy and centralization.4 A strongly hierarchical system is in
place through which collective leadership is possible. ‘Collective leadership’ refers to the outcomes that
are determined by popular, majority vote. Figure 1 illustrates the basic structure of the Vietnamese state.
Against this background, the impact of globalization has directly affected and increasingly affects the
Vietnamese legal system as well as further afield in the region and beyond. This requires each country to
consider often alien concepts such as the rule of law and ‘good governance’ and in achieving Sustainable
Development Goals (SDGs).5 In consequence, Vietnam has embarked on certain economic reforms
3 Jiaxiang Hu, Andrew J. Harding, and Maartje de Visser, Legal Education in Asia (BRILL, 2017), 23.
4 Karen Turner-Gottschang, James Vincent Feinerman, and R. Kent Guy, The limits of the rule of law in China (University of
Washington Press, 2000), 182.
5 Sustainable Development Goals adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015 which includes 17 specific provisions and
a call for action by all countries—developed and developing—in a global partnership, available at
Figure 1. Organization of the Government Apparatus
Source: The authors.

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