Asia Business Law Journal reveals Thailand’s best private practice lawyers. Wilda Fong reports

To be one of Thailand’s top lawyers, you have to be “very smart in [giving] legal advice”, according to Anchana Yolrabil, financial adviser of E for L Aim Thailand, when describing Panuwat Chalongkuamdee, a partner at Weerawong Chinnavat & Partners. [Panuwat’s] advice is practical and useful for my firm. If we have the deal, we always ask him as legal adviser,” she adds.

Jeevanandham Rajagopal, partner of Fox Mandal & Associates in India, says you need to have “exceptional knowledge and [provide] timely delivery”, when describing Nuttaphol Arammuang, a partner at ZICOlaw.

Chinnawat Thongpakdee, managing partner of Herbert Smith Freehills, is simply the “best litigator”, according to Tanach Kanjanasiri, an associate at Kudan & Partners.

Comments such as these, submitted to Asia Business Law Journal by the clients of Thai lawyers, suggest that they not only look for lawyers with an extensive knowledge of the law, but also those who can provide cost-effective solutions, are highly ethical and super client-friendly.

In addition, most international clients seek out Thai lawyers who have a range of expertise and an international mindset.

Spotlighting the individual

As one of the fastest growing economies in Southeast Asia, Thailand is attractive for foreign businesses thanks to its low taxes and relatively business-friendly environment. It is also a regional hub for many industries, most notably automotive and financial, and its changing legal landscape makes it imperative for both domestic and international businesses to seek legal assistance when navigating the regulatory environment.

The Thai legal market continues to be one where clients seek out good lawyers, rather than good law firms. Perhaps this is because of the respect and trust individual lawyers have built and nurtured in lawyer-client relationships, and more importantly, their reputation by name, which far outweighs their firm’s brand name or actual size, factors that are predominant in more developed jurisdictions.

It is against this backdrop that Asia Business Law Journal presents its A-list of the top 100 lawyers (including foreign legal consultants/advisers/counsel) practising in Thailand (see the list of all 100 lawyers and the key practice areas for which they are endorsed).

The list is based on extensive research conducted and nominations received from in-house counsel based in Thailand and elsewhere, as well as Thailand-focused partners at international law firms based outside Thailand. Nearly all of the A-list lawyers are located in the country’s capital, Bangkok. This may reflect the premium on lawyers who are well placed to have their ear to the ground with regard to developments among the financial and sector-specific regulators, and within the corridors of power in government.

As would be expected, the heads of Thailand’s top law firms are on the A-list. These include: Darani Vachanavuttivong, co-managing partner of Tilleke & Gibbins; Satyapon Sachdecha managing partner of Satyapon & Partners; Kowit Somwaiya, managing partner of LawPlus; Jayavadh Bunnag, managing director of International Legal Counsellors; Surasak Vajasit, managing partner of Rajah & Tann; Franck Fougere, managing partner of Ananda IP; Naiyachon Tathong, managing partner of JTJB International Lawyers; and Michael Lorenz, founding partner of Lorenz & Partners.

Accolades aplenty

A-list lawyer David Duncan, a consultant at Tilleke & Gibbins, received praise from Agus Ahadi Deradjat, a partner of ABNR in Indonesia, who says: “David is a prominent and seasoned foreign lawyer practising in Thailand. He has represented various clients, both Thai and multinational clients, having outreached regional jurisdictions including Indonesia.”

Agus-Ahadi-Deradjat-Partner-ABNR-Indonesia

Tasdikiah Siregar, managing partner at TNB & Partners (in association with Norton Rose Fulbright Australia) in Indonesia, has this to say about Tassanai Kiratisountorn, a partner at Norton Rose Fulbright: “Mr Kiratisountorn has extensive understanding about [the] Thailand market and he is really good in dealing with Thai companies to achieve successful closing of cross-border transactions.”

Dhiraphol Suwanprateep, a partner at Baker McKenzie’s Bangkok office, received this positive note from Panisa Suwanmatajarn, managing partner at The Legal Co in Thailand: “He is the best lawyer in Thailand in the IP and IT fields.”

Anix-Lynch-Partner-Expara,-Thailand

Anix Lynch, a partner at Expara, which is a pioneer and leader in incubation and early-stage venture capital, commends Chalermchai Intarasupa, executive partner of CICS & Partners for his work: “Mr Chalermchai leads due diligence and closing process for many early-stage startup investments. This is the area that needs understanding of specific key terms, of which he is very knowledgeable and helpful. Moreover, he is good at negotiating to find middle ground for all parties, is responsive and always delivers work on time.”

A-list women lawyers

Araya Sunlakawit, senior counsel at Blumenthal Richter & Sumet, is described by Wachirasasn Chalertpet, until very recently head of legal at Boutique Corporation Public Co, (which develops, owns, and operates single serviced residences in Thailand), as a lawyer who “is the best lawyer in securities and stock exchange law”. He adds, “She assists almost every public limited company in Thailand on company secretary and fundraising matters.”

Wachirasasn-Chalertpet-Former-Head-of-legal-Boutique-Corporation-Public-Co,-Thailand

Not to be outshone by their male peers, a portion of the A-list was filled by Thailand’s leading women lawyers including: Cynthia Pornavalai, partner at Tilleke & Gibbins, who is a champion of business rights in Thailand; Ratana Poonsombudlert, a senior partner at Chandler MHM who specializes in M&A, corporate law and project financing; Audray Souche, a partner & Thailand managing director at DFDL who combines general commercial/foreign investment experience with specialized experience focusing on energy, mining and infrastructure projects; Prasantaya Bantadtan, a partner at LawPlus who specializes in IP and IT, and is a registered patent attorney; and Arunee Mahathorn, a partner and co-founder of Thanathip & Partners who has been involved in a number of high-profile banking and restructuring transactions.

Singing high praise

Warot Wanakankowit, a partner of Warot Business Consultant Ltd, has received praise from clients such as Cheng Wei Ng, director of CorpZap in Singapore, who says: “Warot has been highly professional in his services to our clients that were referred to him. He is keenly aware of the industry and is an asset to have on board. We highly recommend him to any of our clients that have legal needs in Thailand.”

Sureshkumar Narayanaswamy, senior vice president, finance, of KG Information Systems in India, says, “We had a great time working with Mr Warot, as he took all the possible efforts to make our business interactions a great one.” He adds, “He offers a comprehensive range of legal advisory, from general advisory work to full support for commercial transactions.”

Similarly, Titirat Wattanachewanopakorn, a partner at ZICOlaw, received admiration from his clients. Matthew Homyk, an attorney at Blank Rome in the US, had this to say about the Thai A-list lawyer: “Titirat has become a trusted adviser to me and my US clients for trademark law matters in Thailand. He and his firm are extremely responsive and helpful. Moreover, Titirat is one of the nicest professionals with whom I’ve dealt. He is highly recommended.” Yosuke Tanaka, an associate of Aoyama & Partners in Japan, says he feels “no stress” when Titirat is “handling trademark work … by his quick and accurate response”.

Satisfied clients such as these are what make a lawyer or foreign legal consultant/counsel/adviser one of Thailand’s top 100.

Compiling the A-List

The A-List is based on extensive research conducted by Asia Business Law Journal. For this we turned to thousands of in-house counsel in Thailand and around the world, as well as Thailand-focused partners at international law firms, and asked them to nominate private-practice lawyers including foreign legal consultants, advisers and counsel for the list of Thailand’s top 100 lawyers.

Nominations were received from professionals at Thai and global companies, financial institutions and law firms, including: Thai Union Manufacturing; Aero Technology; Axentel; Sea Group; BKS; MatchMove Pay; Prestige Fiduciary; Gulf Energy Development; MI Squared; Siam Commercial Bank; Techsauce; SMM International; KG Information Systems; Blank Rome; Brightstar; Expara; Johnson Controls; Lotus Gemology and many more.

The final list reflects the nominations received combined with the Asia Business Law Journal editorial team’s more than 30 years of collective experience in documenting and analyzing Thailand’s legal market. All Thai private-practice lawyers were automatically eligible for inclusion in the nominations process and, as always, there were no fees or any other requirements for entry.

The names and photographs of all 100 A-list lawyers are published here. In addition, each A-list lawyer was given the opportunity to include their biography and contact details, for which a publishing fee was charged.

It is important to note that while the compilation of the A-list was based solely on independent editorial research, the biographies and contact details that appear alongside many of the listings have been written by the participating lawyers and the content has not been independently verified by Asia Business Law Journal.