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About four years ago, Jeffrey Brand came up with the idea to ask the State Department to fund the first faculty exchange between his school and one in Vietnam. The U.S. had just opened up diplomatic relations with Vietnam and it turned out Harvard was after the same grant. That didn’t stop Brand. “People told me not to even apply since we’d be going against Harvard,” says Brand, dean at the University of San Francisco School of Law. “I said, ‘We have a better idea than Harvard.’ “ Four years later, as Le Net and seven of his colleagues land in the United States, it won’t be at Boston’s Logan International Airport. Rather, his plane will touch down Aug. 29 at San Francisco International. Net, 28, is a teacher of intellectual property rights at Vietnam National University’s Ho Chi Minh City College of Law and is the first to participate in a series of faculty exchanges between his school and USF Law. According to officials at USF, the trade also marks the first faculty exchange between a U.S. law school and one in Vietnam since the war between the two countries ended in April 1975. “This may be somewhat historic,” says Brand. He says during the fall semester Net will jointly research a paper with a USF faculty member for publication, take classes on law and English, observe USF courses in addition to teaching his own, and give seminars on emerging laws in Vietnam. While the State Department granted USF the funding it needed for the project in late 1997, Judd Iversen, executive director at USF’s Center for Law & Global Justice, says the school was only recently able to make the exchange a reality because of visa hold-ups in Vietnam that kept the delegation from coming to the United States. Brand finalized the exchange only last June. Between traveling to attend to his school’s programs in Cambodia and Indonesia, Brand stopped at Ho Chi Minh City College of Law to meet with Vice-Rector Mai Hong Quy where the two firmed things up. The exchange isn’t the first program between USF Law and Vietnam. Since President Clinton reopened diplomatic relations between the two countries in 1995, USF has conducted four judicial training programs there for more than 300 judges. “The track to being a judge was related to membership in the Communist Party, so a lot of judges didn’t have much formal training,” says Iversen. While Vietnam’s legal system runs on French-based civil procedures, Iversen says the program worked on the principle that any just court is based on taking a set of facts, applying them to the appropriate laws and coming out with a fair judgment. The Vietnamese judges also learned about elements absent from their system, such as a trial by jury. And, says Justice Robert Dossee, a USF graduate and mediator with JAMS who participated in one of the training programs, the U.S. delegation came away enriched as well. “We’ve got a lot to learn from a lot of people.” For example, he says, “Their system encourages people more to make a settlement, and people there are more prone to settle.” With the upcoming swap, Brand hopes to continue the learning exchange. The trade pact developed between the two countries in mid-July and the resulting concern among Silicon Valley’s elite over how Vietnam will deal with intellectual property rights makes Net’s trip especially timely. And come spring, USF plans to send one of its own to Vietnam. “We’ve tried to export our values before, and that was a disaster — the goal is not to make them into Americans,” Brand says. “We’re building bridges.”

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