How to Choose a Lawyer In Thailand
If you live abroad in any country for a long enough period, eventually you’ll find yourself in need of legal services to help you move through different stages of life. Whether you’re looking to get married, buy and sell property, start a business, extend your visa, or compose a Will, assistance from professional lawyers in Thailand can mean the difference between an easy and efficient deal and a monumental struggle through bureaucracy. You may even find that one of the first things you do when you move your life to Thailand is to contact a lawyer to help you arrange all of your business from the start.
But how do you choose a lawyer in Thailand? The first thing you need to do is to identify just what legal services you need, and then go looking for the options that are available to you.
As a foreigner in Thailand, you may expect finding a good lawyer to be a very difficult task, but in fact there are many avenues open to you to help you locate a professional whom you can work confidently with.
The first place to start is where you’d start when looking for a lawyer anywhere: word of mouth. Ask friends, relatives, or business associates, and chances are you’ll quickly find someone who has recently used a lawyer’s services. Find out what their experience was, what they needed the lawyer for, and how they felt about the way things worked. Unless you have an excellent translator that you trust, you’ll also want to find out if the lawyer speaks English or any other language that will help you communicate effectively.
Referrals can also come from strangers, and one of the best ways to find help is through web posts and forums, especially those in Thailand that are frequented by expatriates. On these sites, people share experiences freely. It’s generally true that people are far more inclined to post about negative experiences, positive ones are also out there, especially if a great lawyer has made a real impact on someone’s life. Follow the advice of people that seems to have common sense.
Searching the internet for lawyers in your city or region is also a very good way to find the services you need. Being able to meet with your lawyer face to face can be a great help for communication purposes and developing trust. Never use the services of a lawyer that you don’t trust, or change lawyer if you feel something is wrong and your professional relationship is broken.
Once you have identified lawyers that you can work with, the next step is to find out more information on the best options so that you can ultimately make a choice for whom to hire. Cost is certainly important, but equally so are professionalism, expertise, and (often overlooked) personality, finding someone you feel good about working with. Arrange to meet with potential lawyers to ask them specific questions about your situation and their experience to help you determine who will be best to choose.
Start from the beginning by identifying what your needs are so that you can find out if the lawyer you’re considering has experience working with situations like yours. A lawyer with extensive experience setting up a business may not be an excellent choice to help you with an arbitrated divorce, and vice versa. You should contact your potential choices and ask questions about their experience and areas of expertise. Most lawyers are very proud of their reputations as this is how they get referrals for new clients. Therefore, they should be open and honest with you about the areas they are experienced in.
For instance, Isaan Lawyers is specialized with family and real estate law. We also do corporate law and accounting. But we will refuse any work involving intellectual property. An honest law firm should tell what they can do or not, their fees and a timetable. However, a precise timetable can be very difficult to establish in Thailand for some of the work we do.
In Thailand, law firms can specialize in business law, family law, immigration, intellectual property, real estate, etc. If a firm and a lawyer are highly specialized, they will normally have lots of resources to handle your situation efficiently and professionally. Instead of focusing on one of these areas, however, some law firms in Thailand focus on a different specialization – working with foreigners and their special situations for family, property, business, and visas. Normally such a firm will have several lawyers working together, each focusing on one of these areas.
Communication and trust are the foundations of a professional relationship with your lawyer. A good lawyer will openly display his credentials and areas of expertise. For example, you can find the profile of the people working at Isaan Lawyers on our website. The license number of our lawyers is clearly indicated so you can verify if they are real attorneys or not.
A good lawyer will respond quickly to your important concerns and will be clear in his communication, especially explaining exactly how his fees and services work. Good language skills go a long way in delicate legal situations. Make sure that you feel confident in your lawyer’s (or their translator’s) ability to explain things to you clearly.
In Thailand, foreigners are not able to practice law and argue cases in court. They are able to work as managers and expert advisors to Thai firms, provided that they are legally registered. A good lawyer will gladly explain to you her situation in Thailand and will still be a member of the bar association in her own country so that she is still legally bound to a professional code of conduct.
Finally, a professional lawyer keeps your informed and keeps his progress transparent. You should always have access to your legal file and know where your situation stands.
Lawyers can be expensive, but this doesn’t mean that finding the cheapest lawyer is going to be your best choice. Often higher fees reflect comprehensive services, but in any case when you meet a potential lawyer, she should explain to you what the fees are and what services you get for these fees. Flat fees are for most legal services for foreigners in Thailand, and good lawyers will help you to arrange a payment plan. This is good, because you can set expectations in steps and assess the lawyer’s progress before each pay period. Paying everything up-front can be a good incentive for your lawyer to put your case on the backburner. But remember that in some cases, lawyers will ask 100% fees up front to cover their work and expenses. (When the client is abroad, when we setup a company, etc.)
Meet the people that you might want to work with. Most lawyers in Thailand will give an initial consultation for free to assess your needs and demonstrate their ability to help you. Beware of asking too much of a lawyer for free, however. Be reasonable in your expectations and the lawyer’s time, because if you try to get too much for free, you could end up alienating an otherwise excellent lawyer who may lose all desire to work with you.
Assess each lawyer’s expertise, performance and ability to communicate to you effectively about how she will approach your case if hired. Look at fees and how they will be billed.
Finally, take into account who you feel good working with, who you trust. And make a decision.
Remember that if you don’t like who you’re working with, there are many options out there and many ways to find a new lawyer, so make a change if you’re not satisfied with the relationship.
You might need simple help to process a visa application, or something more complex like setting up your own business and obtaining a work permit. In any case, look past fees and take the opportunity to meet the lawyers you could potentially work with. Professional lawyers in Thailand can turn difficult problems into stress-free situations that are sorted out quickly so that you can get back to more important things, like enjoying your life in the Land of Smiles.