Trai Lê

Trai Lê

Professor Emerita of Law

Professor Trai Lê joined the Law School faculty in 1977, having spent 20 years practicing and teaching law in her native Vietnam. She earned her License en Droit magna cum laude and her Doctorat en Droit summa cum laude from the University of Aix-Marseille in 1953 and 1956, respectively. She also graduated from the Academy of International Law in The Hague in 1953, earned a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Chicago in 1967, graduated from the International and Comparative Law Center at the Southwestern Legal Foundation in Dallas, Texas, in 1973, and ultimately earned her J.D. from Notre Dame in 1977. 

Lê began her 40-year teaching career in 1957 as a professor of law at the University of Hue, the second-largest university in Vietnam. She served as the first dean of the university’s law school, after the entire university had been flattened during the 1968 Tet offensive. While a professor at Hue, she also served as visiting professor at the law schools of the University of Saigon and the University of Dalat.

The first woman attorney in central Vietnam, Lê also has extensive practical experience in the areas of international law and corporate law. She founded the first international law firm in Vietnam, Tang Thi Thanh Trai & Ta Van Tai, and served as the firm’s senior partner until she came to the United States immediately prior to the fall of Saigon. She translated her decades of experience into the subjects she taught for over 20 years at Notre Dame, including the required course in commercial law, consumer law, international law, international business transactions and immigration law.

Lê has played prominent roles in several different organizations. She has been a member of the Central Vietnam Bar Association (1959-62), a board member on the Vietnam Council on Foreign Relations (1969-74), and a member of the board of the Saigon Bar Association (1968-75). She served as advisor to the Vietnam Industrial Management Association (1972-75), and in 1977 became a member of the American Association for the Comparative Study of Law.

At Notre Dame, she served on countless University and Law School committees, and advised the Asian Law Students Association and coached the International Moot Court Teams that, under her guidance, won regional competitions on several occasions.



  • Protecting Consumer Rights (Shepard's/McGraw-Hill 1987), annually supplemented.
  • Sales and Credit Transactions Handbook, with Edward J. Murphy (Shepard's/McGraw Hill 1985), annually supplemented.
  • Cases and Materials on Commercial Paper (Notre Dame Law School 1982).
  • Cases and Materials on Sales and Credit Transactions (Shepard's/McGraw Hill 1979), annually supplemented.
  • Cases and Materials on International Business (Notre Dame Law School 1978).

Book Segments

  • Response to Keith Rosenn's "A Comparison of Latin American and North American Legal Traditions," in Multinational Managers and Host Government Interactions 153 (Lee A. Tavis ed., University of Notre Dame Press 1998).


  • Are Litigating Attorneys Debt Collectors Under the Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act? 1994-95 Preview of United States Supreme Court Cases 219 (1995).
  • The Legal Aspects of Foreign Investment in Vietnam, 1 International Trade and Business Law Journal 45 (1995).
  • The French Legal Profession: A Prisoner of Its Glorious Past? 15 Cornell International Law Journal 63 (1982).
  • Professional Independence and the Associate in a Law Firm: A French Case Study, 29 The American Journal of Comparative Law 647 (1981).
  • The Foreign Investment Code of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, 13 The International Lawyer 329 (1979).

Book Reviews

  • 38 American Journal of Comparative Law 717 (1990) (reviewing Ta Van Tai, The Vietnamese Tradition of Human Rights (1998)).
  • 36 American Journal of Comparative Law 810 (1998) (reviewing E. Hooker, The Laws of Southeast Asia, Vol. 1: The Pre-Modern Texts (1998)).
  • 34 American Journal of Comparative Law 802 (1986) (reviewing Les Effets du Contrat dans les Pays du Marche Commun (1985)).
  • 31 American Journal of Comparative Law 738 (1983) (reviewing D. Dreyer, Le Trust en Droit (1983)).


  • Patents and Trademarks in Vietnam (First National City Bank (Saigon) 1974).
  • Foreign Investment in Vietnam: Legal and Commercial Considerations (Vietnam Chamber of Commerce 1974).