Ethical lawyers. We found one! Of course, there are many, many, many actually.

But even today if you Google ‘lawyer jokes’ you’ll find 62 million results perpetuating the myth that lawyers are lacking in ethics.

Lewis Truong gets headhunted by international companies and follows his career dreams around the world, but he never leaves home without his most important assets: pride in where he came from and an unwavering sense of justice.

We found out how he’s stayed true to himself while achieving remarkable success.

What did your legal training give you?

Victoria Law School in the centre of Melbourne’s legal precinct was a unique and inspiring place to learn.

It's a tight-knit group with engaged students and supportive lecturers. The competitive-yet-supportive learning environment prepared me for the commercial world, and I became the founder of the first VU Law student society (now the Dictum Society).

VU taught me to be responsible for my own success.

How did you get your foot in the door of your career?

While I was in my final year of my combined Business and Law degree, I took the opportunity to work with Holden through the VU Business School’s co-operative learning program.

My timetable was flexible so I was able to get experience at both Holden and BMW, working first for Holden’s Marketing and Finance departments, then at BMW in their Management Graduate Program. I got all of these opportunities before I graduated, giving me the edge over other candidates.

How did you achieve success after uni?

My point of difference once I returned to live in Asia was that I was educated and grew up in Australia, and had gained so much practical legal experience.

After graduation, I worked at PwC Legal then IBM for four years in Vietnam. I received IBM’s Global Corporate Award for my initiatives to sponsor and support IBM’s collaboration with an NGO –‘Bridges Across Borders’ Southeast Asia Clinical Legal Education.

I then became Asia-Pacific lead counsel for Syngenta AG – globally the largest Agri-Chemical and Biotech company – before joining Mundipharma, a pharmaceutical company, to lead teams and design policies.

These roles gave me a strategic view of how business decisions are made and how they operate.

What is the best thing about your current role?

I was headhunted by Baxter Healthcare to head the Asia-Pacific Ethics & Compliance department, based in Singapore.

Recently, I travelled to India to launch one of Baxter’s Corporate Social Responsibility programs: an initiative to provide clean water to local villages around our plant.

Given increasing regulatory scrutiny, it is important to look at business growth from a sustainable perspective. I help the business to make tough decisions using my strong understanding of the law and business environments.

Practical placements at courts, law firms and legal centres give VU students the career edge.

Driven by passion & justice

What keeps your legal passion alive?

The career ‘holy grail’ for a lawyer is to be considered a trusted business adviser. I strive for this every day and do not take this position of trust for granted.

The modern lawyer is very different to those in the bygone era. Modern lawyers wear a variety of different hats – which I do constantly. We need lawyers to ensure our practices are sustainable and ethical. I go home at night knowing I’m making a positive difference.

Have you ever had your own ethics tested?

As lawyers, we’re faced with tough decisions and ethical dilemmas throughout our careers. These situations define you, and it is in those moments you will have the opportunity to shine. Those who can stand their ground and find the right solution will be rewarded personally and professionally.

If a lawyer shies away from a situation where they need to hold their hand steady, then I feel they’re no more than a glorified administrator.

Today’s clients and business stakeholders are very demanding – beyond navigating the law, they are expecting that we show them how to carry out their business activities ethically and in a compliant manner.

Justice means everything to me – predominantly it’s about a fair go. In justice, everyone is equal and has the right to present their perspective and get the same opportunities.

"Justice means everything to me."

Want to know more?

Lewis studied the Bachelor of Laws (Honours)/Bachelor of Business (International Trade).

Find out more about Law and Justice courses and the practical approach that gives VU graduates the edge with employers.

Did you know you can take a seamless course pathway into Law at VU and fulfil your legal dreams, no matter your educational background?

Or if you have prior studies, our Bachelor of Laws (Graduate Entry) can help you fast-track your studies.

Apply direct for 2019