Michael K. Lee

Partner and Head of Corporate/Commercial
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T: +84 28 3936 2069
F: +84 28 3936 2066




English, Korean


LLM, American University, Washington College of Law

JD, University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law

BA, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)

Michael K. Lee is a partner and the head of the corporate and commercial team in the Vietnam offices of Tilleke & Gibbins. Lauded by Chambers Asia Pacific  for his “thorough approach,” Michael advises clients and manages cases on a wide range of corporate matters, including real estate, mergers and acquisitions, corporate formation and licensing, commercial transactions, regulatory affairs (particularly in the life sciences and TMT fields), and labor.

Michael has been identified as a leading corporate lawyer in Vietnam by Chambers Asia Pacific  (since 2011), The Legal 500 Asia Pacific  (since 2014), Asialaw Leading Lawyers, and IFLR 1000, and has spoken on Vietnam’s labor, foreign investment, and corporate/commercial laws at workshops and seminars throughout Southeast Asia.

A registered foreign lawyer in Vietnam and an arbitrator for the Vietnam International Arbitration Center, Michael has been practicing in Vietnam since 2007, previously with Mayer Brown JSM. Also a licensed lawyer in California (1996), Texas (1997), and Colorado (1998), Michael has extensive experience litigating civil and criminal matters in the United States. He is fluent in English and Korean.

  • Advised a multinational pharmaceutical company regarding various corporate consolidation matters, including management, labor, and drug licensing, arising from its worldwide merger with another leading pharmaceutical company. After the integration became effective, we helped the subsidiaries comply with various legal requirements and assisted our client in obtaining the necessary permits.

  • Assisted the leading investment banking firm in Vietnam with obtaining an investment license for a landmark project in central Vietnam. This development involves complex sub-units and various financing structures.

  • Provided comprehensive due diligence and advice on a foreign-invested cosmetics manufacturer.

  • Helped a major U.S. hospitality chain to structure, draft, and negotiate management contracts and conduct due diligence for six hotel, resort, and condominium projects in compliance with Vietnamese law, including  land title, zoning issues, complex brand licensing, and various taxation issues.

  • Advised a timeshare entity on all aspects of its entry into the Vietnamese market including real estate ownership, leasing and management, marketing, advertising, and data privacy.

  • Advised a major developer on Vietnamese legislation relevant to commercial real property managers.

  • Provided comprehensive due diligence and advice on share acquisitions of (1) a Vietnamese-owned online tax filing and payment company and (2) a Vietnamese bio-fuel (ethanol) manufacturer. Significant issues included the regulatory and licensing framework for digital signature certification services, Internet information services, and environmental law.

  • Conducted comprehensive due diligence and prepared advice on a foreign-invested pallet leasing company.

  • Prepared comprehensive due diligence and advice on a foreign-invested construction equipment leasing company.

  • Advised on, drafted, and negotiated share acquisition agreements (and related documents) and conducted due diligence on several seven digit acquisitions in Vietnam, including a resort complex in central Vietnam, a leading online gaming company, and a leading paper manufacturer

  • Negotiated and drafted joint venture agreements, conducted due diligence, and prepared licensing documentation for a seven-digit golf/residence project in Ho Chi Minh City for a listed Korean developer; for several six-digit resort projects for a Dutch developer; and for a seven-digit high-rise office complex in Ho Chi Minh City for a large Hong Kong based private equity fund.

  • Advised, negotiated, and successfully concluded several executive separations for numerous top-tier companies in Vietnam. 

  • Advised a major Japanese construction company in a USD 140,000,000 mixed-use office, condominium and serviced apartment project in Hanoi, including all licensing matters, land title issues, zoning variances, land subdivision, joint venture negotiations, corporate governance, and property management regulations.

  • Applied for and obtained an investment certificate for a rapidly expanding U.S. Internet company to set up shop and conduct business in Vietnam. Worked with the client to secure a local joint venture partner and structured the deal to allow the client to retain independence and control of the company.

  • Applied for and obtained an investment certificate for one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world. This included researching complex licensing and capitalization issues to limit the company’s liability and advised on the proper amount of investment capital.

  • Advised a leading computer retailer on business operations in Vietnam.

  • Advised a coalition of European banks regarding Vietnamese law on secured aircraft finance and provided annual updates on changes to same.

  • Provided legal advice on doing business in Vietnam in the construction and engineering sectors.

  • Prepared comprehensive information on employment law in Vietnam for an international law firm.

  • Helped a multinational company establish a foreign direct investment company engaged in the import/export and distribution of mobile phones and computers.  The established company is one of the few foreign-owned companies permitted to do business in this sector in Vietnam.

  • Advised a leading pharmaceutical company that previously operated as a representative office in Vietnam on establishing a pharmaceutical import company.  We assisted the client with closing its representative office and establishing the wholly-owned foreign enterprise to import pharmaceutical products.

  • Acted as lead counsel in advising two leading Swedish industrial tools manufacturers in establishing wholly foreign-owned enterprises engaging in manufacturing, importing and exporting, and distribution activities in Vietnam as well as post-licensing, labor and employment, and corporate support services.

  • Advised a major British women’s apparel company in identifying and establishing a manufacturing plant in Vietnam. Our representation encompassed identifying local partners to build-lease land and plant to foreign partner in business cooperation agreement.

  • Assisted a leading U.S.-based e-commerce business in the incorporation of its subsidiary company in Vietnam.

  • Helped a top U.S. paint manufacturer to establish a subsidiary to engage in the manufacture of paint in Vietnam.

Datesort icon Title
June 1, 2017

Tilleke & Gibbins Ranked in Tier 1 in Vietnam for Media Law

Media Law International (MLI), a specialist guide to the world’s leading firms for media law, has placed Tilleke & Gibbins in Tier 1 for Vietnam in its 2017 rankings, specifically citing the firm...

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May 1, 2017

Michael Lee and Vinh Quoc Nguyen to Speak on Employment Issues in Vietnam

Michael K. Lee, Vinh Quoc Nguyen

Foreign companies doing business in Vietnam often discover that discipline and dismissal of employees can be a difficult process, even in cases of serious wrongdoing, due to the country’s strict...

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January 13, 2017

Fifteen Tilleke & Gibbins Lawyers Receive Recognition in Chambers Asia-Pacific 2017 Rankings

Chambers Asia-Pacific  has recognized 15 Tilleke & Gibbins lawyers and consultants for their impressive legal knowledge and expertise, capabilities, and client-focused services in its annual...

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November 16, 2016

The Legal 500 Asia Pacific 2017: Twelve Tilleke Attorneys Named as “Leading Individuals”

The 2017 edition of The Legal 500 Asia Pacific  has named 12 Tilleke & Gibbins lawyers as “Leading Individuals” across Southeast Asia:   Leading Individual   Practice Area...

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November 16, 2016

Tilleke & Gibbins’ Vietnam Practice Receives Three Tier 1 Rankings in Legal 500 Asia Pacific 2017

Renowned legal publication The Legal 500 Asia Pacific  has awarded “Tier 1” rankings to Tilleke & Gibbins’ Vietnam practice across three categories: Intellectual Property; Labor and...

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May 26, 2017

Vietnam’s Labor Code to See Significant Changes

Michael K. Lee, Kien Trung Trinh

Vietnam’s 2012 Labor Code, in effect since May 1, 2013, is being reviewed and revised by the Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA), the body in charge of labor issues in Vietnam....

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February 6, 2017

PLC Doing Business in … Global Guide 2017 – Vietnam Chapter

Attorneys from Tilleke & Gibbins have written the Vietnam chapter of Practical Law Company’s Doing Business in … Global Guide, an essential handbook for businesses looking to expand their...

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January 15, 2017

International Franchising (Second Edition, Release 5) – Vietnam Chapter

Michael K. Lee, Tu Ngoc Trinh

Franchising experts from Tilleke & Gibbins’ corporate and commercial group have contributed the Vietnam chapter to International Franchising, Second Edition (Release 5, 2016), a guide to...

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December 23, 2016

The Asia-Pacific Investigations Review 2017 – Vietnam Chapter

John Frangos, Michael K. Lee

Foreign investment is, once again, flooding into Vietnam. According to The Economist, foreign direct investment hit a record high in 2015. The Vietnamese government has taken steps to improve the...

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May 26, 2016

Vietnam’s New Penal Code: Employers Face Increased Criminal Liability for Unlawful Dismissals

Michael K. Lee, Dat Hoang Truong

Under Vietnam’s new Penal Code No. 100/2015/QH13 (“new code”) coming into force on July 1, 2016, the dismissal of an employee will become more challenging because managers of companies will be...

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