The Vietnamese American Bar Association of Washington (VABAW)’s 2009 Hồng Đức Clerk is Dai Dao, a second-year law student from the University of Wisconsin. Dai spent his 2009 summer at Baker & McKenzie in their Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, office.

VABAW’s Hồng Đức Clerkship awards one law student full funding for airfare, lodging, and daily stipend for the summer clerkship. This is VABAW’s second year for the Clerkship.

Dai graduated from the University of Washington with a Bachelor of Arts in History (with a concentration in Southeast Asian History and Historiography), and is currently finishing his second year of law school at University of Wisconsin. At the University of Wisconsin Law School, Dai received the Samson Fellowship and is a member of the Wisconsin Law Review. Dai spent his summer after his first year of law school at YKVN law offices in Ho Chi Minh City. Dai is fluent in Vietnamese. Dai and his family still make Washington state their home.

Baker & McKenzie was one of the first international law firms to establish offices in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, Vietnam. Baker & McKenzie’s offices in Vietnam provide on-the-ground liaison and support services to clients interested in investigating, negotiating, and implementing projects in the country. Lawyers in the Vietnam Practice Group guide clients through the legal and commercial risks inherent in Vietnam’s evolving legal system and changing political-economic landscape.

Dai reflects upon his Hồng Đức summer experience as follows:

During my summer experience in Vietnam I developed immensely, as a professional and as a world citizen. My experience made me recognize the responsibilities I have grown into and the contributions I can make to the world. Being a college graduate in America is no longer looked on as a huge feat, it has become expected. However, being college-educated in a country like Vietnam, which values and even exalts education, you are looked to as an example. Friends, colleagues, and even strangers hold you to a higher standard. This is a new feeling for someone my age; I don’t recall anyone ever trying to emulate me. I felt compelled to be someone worth emulating. Being an American law student working at Baker McKenzie, the most prestigious law firm in Vietnam, puts you in a position of privilege. From this position, you can either avoid the more unsightly aspects of Vietnam or you can engage Vietnam for everything it is. For me, I chose to engage Vietnam. I felt empowered by my position; I was taken more seriously than I ever was before. Whether it was preparing the legal basis to obtain birth certificates for abandoned children in the Mekong Delta, or training HCMC University law students for an international moot court competition, my efforts mattered.

VABAW thanks all its friends and supporters for making this Hồng Đức Clerkship possible.

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