There are many different
law firms and other businesses offering legal services in
Thailand. It is useful to understand the types of law firms
and legal service providers in order to locate the best choice
for accomplishing your goals and minimizing potential risks
from pursuing legal action in Thailand. The following is a
general breakdown of the types of organizations that offer
legal assistance in Thailand so that you can find an attorney
who can best address your specific needs.
There are a number of law
firms in Thailand that are either directly or indirectly affiliated
with large overseas multinational law firms. Attorneys at
these law firms generally assist large multinational corporations
that have extensive overseas legal issues, or provide assistance
on transnational cases involving one of their other overseas
branches. Generally, these firms are focused on large corporate
clients rather than private individual clients. Attorneys
at these firms normally practice commercial, corporate, intellectual
property, securities and trade law. It is uncommon for their
attorneys to accept smaller clients for domestic law issues
or smaller corporate legal problems.
II. Thai Law
Firms with Foreign Partners or Managers
Some Thai law firms have
a foreign partner or associate who acts as a liaison between
foreign clients and the local attorneys. These firms can be
helpful if you feel more comfortable communicating in English.
In addition, these firms often specialize in issues relevant
to foreigners in Thailand. However, the foreign liaisons may
or may not be attorneys in their home jurisdictions, and may
or may not be working directly on or supervising your case.
A smaller number of the law firms in Thailand are foreign-managed
Thai law firms. These firms may be run by foreign attorneys.
In some instances, these managers are certified attorneys
in their home countries. Some can speak Thai fluently and
have had years of experience handling cases for foreigners
in Thailand. As there are different laws affecting Thais and
foreigners, if your case is of an international nature, it
may be best to seek legal advice from an attorney knowledgeable
in both Thai and foreign laws.
However, you should be aware that quality varies greatly in
this category of law firms, including the level of expertise
of the Thai lawyers employed by the law firm and the legal
qualifications of the foreign managers/attorneys. Its best
to get legal advice from legal professionals who have experience
dealing with the issues that you are addressing. Foreign attorneys,
who can speak fluent Thai, directing Thai attorneys may be
your best option if you are a foreigner or foreign business
operating in Thailand, as they will provide the greatest assurance
in terms of legally accurate information.
Local Thai law firms are
experienced in local litigation and are generally effective
in handling cases within the Thai judicial system. A majority
of law firms in Thailand are local law firms assisting local
Thai citizens and businesses. Consequently, most of these
firms do not cater to or solicit business from foreigners
in Thailand. They often do not have fluent English speaking
attorneys or assistants. Although their attorneys may be quite
competent in Thai legal matters involving Thai persons, they
may be unfamiliar with the issues that are relevant to foreigners
living, working, or doing business in Thailand. Although these
firms may have capable trial lawyers, foreigners who need
assistance with pursuing litigation through the Thai courts
may have difficulty as a result of the language barrier and
the inability to receive explanations in their native language.
Services" Providers or "Pseudo Law Firms"
Outside the range of traditional
law firms, there are certain less expensive alternatives often
referred to as “legal service providers” or “pseudo
law firms”. These organizations do not generally qualify
as “law firms” in the traditional sense and are
typically operated by non-lawyers who may be foreigners or
Thais. Engaging the services of these organizations may be
useful under certain circumstances. In cases that require
very basic assistance such as filling out forms that do not
require legal expertise, these firms may be less expensive
initially. These businesses may or may not have Thai licensed
lawyers on their staff or state that they work in collaboration
with Thai licensed lawyers. Even if these firms do have lawyers
on their staff, the work may be supervised by a person who
is not an attorney.
Certain consumers readily seek out these organizations because
such organizations may be willing to take risks that traditional
law firms may not be willing to take. For instance, some of
these organizations routinely use and openly advertise the
provision of Thai national nominee shareholders (“strawmen”)
to set up a company despite the fact that such practice may
be an offence under Thai law. If there are any unforeseen
legal issues, it may be more difficult to resolve these issues
if the assistance you received was not provided within the
confines of the law.
Typically, pseudo law firms can be distinguished from traditional
law firms by the fact that the manager or the point-of-contact
is a non-lawyer. In addition, these organizations’ may
operate other businesses in addition to providing legal services
such as mail order brides services, business brokerage, virtual
office leasing, or website design to name a few.
to Ask When Ascertaining the Suitability of a Law Firm:
1) Is the person who will
be your primary point-of-contact fluent in both English and
2) Is the person who you will be contacting a licensed lawyer,
either in Thailand or in their home country?
3) Is the law firm a registered company? Does the name "Co.
4) Does the law firm employ Thai licensed lawyers? If so,
are they experienced? Do they have any secondary qualifications
such as a Barrister certificate?
5) Does the law firm or organization have legal counsel as
their primary business, or do they engage in other business
dealings that are unrelated to law?
6) How long has the company been established? (As a rule of
thumb, a law firm with at least three years of operation is
more likely to stay in the business than one of a shorter
7) Do the lawyers in the firm have scholarly articles published
in professional publications?