If you found this page then you already know finding and dealing with a lawyer in Thailand can be a real challenge.
I know. I went through the process when I moved to Thailand.
The challenge not only comes from the language barrier, but often from a different understanding of what a lawyer’s role is.
And unlike other “expat challenges,” you won’t find much info online about hiring a lawyer in Thailand.
People who write negatively about a lawyer they hired have to be worried about getting sued, which happened to a friend of mine.
But don’t worry. This guide shows you how to research and find a lawyer, ask the right questions, work with a lawyer, and get the best legal help you can afford.
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- First Things First
- Legal Emergencies
- Working With Lawyers
- Types of Law Firms
- Lawyer Rates
- Costs in Different Fields of Law
- Lawyer Rankings and Lists
- Lawyers in Thailand
- Contracts and Other Legal Documents
- Now, on to You
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First Things First
I’m not a lawyer, and I’m not qualified to offer opinions on your legal matters in Thailand.
Unlike anonymous forum posters, I can’t tell you to take any actions that are considered illegal, even if it were in your best interest.
So where did I get the info to write this guide?
Entrepreneurs, private individuals, and industry insiders gave me a lot of input.
Most of them prefer to stay anonymous though. I also use public info from various embassies in Bangkok.
The info I offer in this guide isn’t legal advice and doesn’t replace legal help.
I do my best to accurately write about lawyers, but mistakes may creep up. I’m not responsible or liable for any consequences of you reading this.
You’re responsible for any costs or damages that arise out of any action you take—or refuse to take based on what you read here.
With the somewhat legal disclaimer aside, let’s get started with the most pressing matter.
If you’re reading this guide, you or someone you know might have a legal emergency.
If you find yourself in deep water—like in jail—and need legal help, consider taking these steps.
Involving a Third Party
The first person you get in touch with doesn’t have to be a lawyer. You can get in touch with a trusted friend or family member.
This gives you a link to the outside world and lets you relay and receive info through them.
A third party can also organize help on your behalf and reach out to your embassy if you can’t.
Calling Your Embassy
The moment you call your embassy, things are more likely to follow the letter of the law, including due process and legal costs.
Whether that is to your advantage or not depends on your case.
If you call your embassy, try to do so without letting anyone know. This way you can act on what they say.
Although Thai police get in touch with your embassy if you’re arrested, you should keep your embassy’s emergency number in your phone or wallet.
You might not have internet access when the time comes.
Embassies won’t give you legal advice or recommend specific lawyers, but they may help you by:
- providing a list of lawyers
- facilitating the transfer of funds to pay for your lawyer
- observing how you’re treated while detained
They might also be familiar with different kinds of emergencies and can tell you how to conduct yourself.
Here are a few emergency numbers for embassies in Bangkok. These numbers are for urgent emergencies outside of office hours.
- Australia: +66 23446300 (pick option ‘1’)
- Austria: +43 5011504411
- Canada: +1 6139968885 (they have a teletypewriter service for deaf people at +1 6139441310)
- Germany: +66 818456224
- India: +66 618819218
- Norway: +47 23950000
- United Kingdom: +66 23058333
- United States: +66 22054000
- Singapore: +66 818443580
- Switzerland: +66 818224921
More numbers and office hours are listed on each of the embassies’ websites.
An employee of your embassy is the first person to call your family back home if you have a legal emergency.
If anyone else calls your family or emergency contacts without you asking them to do so, this might be a sign of foul play.
You might want to tell your relatives to call your embassy if they get a call from someone other than an employee of your embassy.
Reaching out to a Lawyer
I don’t know of any law firms that offer a 24-hour hotline to new clients for criminal cases.
This means you might have to wait things out until you can reach someone during office hours.
You might be in luck if your embassy has the number to a criminal lawyer.
You also might find yourself under a lot of pressure if you’re arrested. Many lawyers tell their clients not to sign anything until they arrive.
In the Criminal Law section below I list some criminal lawyers, which can serve as a basic starting point to find lawyers who have a criminal law practice.
Being Aware of Differences
Thailand’s laws and procedures differ from your home country. What might be legal back home can be illegal in Thailand, and vice-versa.
The legal system in Thailand isn’t too different from the legal system back home. But you should be aware of the specific and important differences.
It helps to know some basics of the Thai legal system so you can have an informed talk with your lawyer.
Working With Lawyers
The role, responsibilities, and qualifications of lawyers and other legal professions in Thailand vary from those roles back home.
In general, you should go through a more extensive vetting process with lawyers in Thailand to make sure they’re a good fit for your case.
What You Can Do
A lawyer performs depending on how much you prepare for and understand your case. If you prepare yourself, you can work more efficiently with skillful lawyers.
To better prepare yourself and your lawyer, tell your lawyer everything you know about your case, be honest with him or her, and don’t withhold any info.
Read Up on Lawyers
Many law firms put the resumes of their lawyers online. Reading resumes beforehand can help you pick a specific lawyer at a firm.
If the lawyer handling your case has at least five years of experience working in your field, consider it a good sign.
Get in Touch with Lawyers
When you look for a law firm it’s a good idea to email the lawyer you want to talk to.
If you use the contact form on their website, you run the risk of the message landing on the wrong desk or in a spam folder.
You can call them by phone, too. But I like to describe my case by email before talking on the phone.
Talk to Junior Lawyers
In many cases, you first meet with a senior lawyer or a partner in the law firm. But junior lawyers do the actual work.
You should meet the junior lawyer who handles your case to see if they get it and to see if they can speak English, which isn’t a problem at major firms.
You can ask. And many lawyers bring in junior lawyers on the initial meeting anyway.
Prepare Your Documents
Lawyers are expensive. And you can make their life easier by keeping and organizing your relevant paperwork.
Write out your concerns or questions as bullet points before you meet with a lawyer. And stick to your points to avoid inflated costs caused by meetings that drag on.
Evaluate Skills, Language, Ethics, and Communication
In a preliminary meeting, you often have the chance to ask lawyers various questions before hiring them.
Here are a few sample questions to get you started:
- to check their skill level: How have you handled similar cases in the past?
- to check their language abilities: How would you summarize the problem I’m facing?
- to check their ethics and values: What other ways are there to make this go away?
You get a good idea of how professional they are by the responses to these questions.
When messaging lawyers before a meeting, notice their response time. Fast responses might not say much about how they communicate once you hire them.
And you should worry if lawyers are slow to respond or don’t address your points.
Read the Law
Lawyers don’t know the intricacies of your business or problem as well as you do.
If you read the law related your legal problems, you can give more info to your lawyer on top of what he or she asks for.
Another advantage to reading the law is that you notice if a lawyer makes promises that sound too good to be true.
A good book to start with for commercial law is David Tan’s A Primer on Thai Business Law.
Whether you need to hire a lawyer for a criminal offense or for business, you should be a part of the process.
If you rely on someone else or a business partner, you risk facing problems in the future.
Manage Your Expectations
Some expats think the rule of law doesn’t apply in Thailand. While you can find people breaking the rules and getting away with it, it’s not the norm.
The legal system may not be on par with that of your home country, but at the end of the day, the rule of law still applies in Thailand.
Lawyers won’t help you if you ask them to come up with an illegal way out. And if they offer to do just that, find another lawyer.
Other expats think that trials are quickly resolved. Court cases in Thailand can drag on for years.
If you have to stand trial, prepare to commit a lot of time to the trial.
And if you’re a defendant you can’t leave the country while the case is open.
If you come across any of the red flags listed below when hiring a lawyer in Thailand you should be wary of working with that lawyer or get a second opinion.
I can’t list all the potential red flags that might come up. But here are a few.
Your Lawyer Wants to be a Nominee Shareholder in Your Company
You run the risk of losing control over your company down the road.
No Conflict of Interest Check
You don’t want a lawyer who’s related to the person suing you.
Large law firms check to make sure they don’t know the person suing you. You might have to ask smaller law firms to check as they might not always do it.
Illegal or Unethical Suggestions
If your lawyer suggests an illegal or unethical tactic, take it as a sign that your lawyer has no regard for the law. This may backfire on you.
Difficulties in Switching Lawyers
If you’re unhappy with your lawyer, you can switch to a new lawyer at any time. Law firms deal with this professionally.
Lawyers Who Call You
Some lawyers find out about your case and go out of their way to get you as a client. Avoid this.
If you or someone you know is facing legal trouble, the embassy reaches out first—not a lawyer.
It isn’t hard to find an English-speaking lawyer in Thailand. A lot of lawyers in Thailand graduated from overseas and can speak good English.
You can test their English skills by giving them a call or following this advice.
If you need help in finding an English-speaking lawyer, you can fill out this form. We will forward your issue to a lawyer who can speak English well and is suitable for your case.
Types of Law Firms
Law firms differ based on language skills, ethics and values, legal skills, business processes, how they communicate, and the rates they charge.
In general, you should notice a positive connection between rates and everything else.
But that doesn’t mean all cheap lawyers cause problems and all expensive lawyers have the solution.
Here’s an overview of the common types of firms.
Catch-all firms tend to be local law firms that focus on standard, fix-priced work at cheaper rates.
They also tend to be less-familiar with more complex legal topics, and lawyers at these firms might have limited English skills.
A solid catch-all firm we recommend is Frank Legal & Tax. They have a team of Thai and International team of lawyers who offer a range of legal services, such as real estate law, litigation, visa and work permits.
General Expat Firms
General expat firms help expats with anything from prenups to incorporating businesses.
Their big advantages are low rates and English-speaking staff.
Their disadvantages are limited familiarity with more technical business challenges and limited resources to meet with individual clients.
Commercial firms have expert lawyers on payroll with hourly rates to match.
Their clients range from startups to multinational corporations.
These are also the firms you most likely reach out to for help with lawsuits.
Some of them are Thai-managed; others are more dominated by foreign lawyers.
Large Law Firms
Large law firms in Bangkok have less than 200 local lawyers on payroll. They might not be the typical 1,000 lawyer, London-based mega firms that come to mind.
But what sets them apart—aside from their rates—is the amount of offices they have in Thailand, throughout Pacific Asia, and on other continents.
Large law firms usually work with multinational companies.
Boutique firms have a handful of lawyers in Thailand and deal with one or two fields of practice.
In many cases, the fewer fields of practice they list, the more skillful they are.
Frank Legal & Tax, for example, are experts in real estate and commercial law.
One benefit of using a boutique firm is that you’re more likely to see the actual partners carrying out the work you hired them for.
What firm works best for you depends on the amount at stake and the complexity of the topic.
I prefer to have competitive-priced firms do the routine, fix-priced work that crops up on a regular basis.
And I hire top-tier lawyers from commercial and boutique law firms to talk about labor disputes, intellectual property rights, equity, taxes, and so on.
Rates for lawyers vary a lot. It’s hard to give estimates without knowing any specifics.
Whether their rates are worth it or not depends on the specifics of your problem.
The info below should give you ballpark prices to hire a lawyer.
While I say “meet with a lawyer” a lot in this guide, the actual firm you end up hiring may be the only one that can give you an actual estimate.
There are no binding legal fee tables in Thailand. You and the lawyer agree on rates on a case-by-case basis.
Depending on your case and law firm, you pay either:
- a fixed fee (common for standard procedures and some private law matters)
- by the hour (in case of a work load that can’t be predicted, like complex criminal law cases)
- based on a successful outcome (rare)
To start, rates at the lower end range from 1,500 baht to 7,000 baht per hour. These rates are for routine work or to talk with a lawyer.
Large firms and boutique lawyers who handle commercial cases often price their lawyers in the range of 10,000 baht to 16,000 baht.
These rates don’t include VAT. So if you hire a lawyer add 7% on top of those prices.
Lowering Lawyer Costs
There are a number of things you can do to keep your legal costs in check. Read this article to find out more.
Costs in Different Fields of Law
You can find in this section a rough idea what hiring a lawyer cost you in different fields of practice and for different types of cases.
Most lawyers in Thailand bill per hour. Your costs depend on your case, the law firm you hire, and the seniority of your lawyer.
Commercial law firms charge fixed rates for routine work. This includes:
- incorporating a business (35,000 baht to 100,000 baht)
- applying for BOI (20,000 baht to 240,000 baht)
- applying for visas and work permits (20,000 baht to 40,000 baht)
You should keep in mind that those are rough estimates and firms may end up charging more or less.
When looking at prices—especially fixed prices—you should ask firms if the prices include government fees and out of pocket expenses.
If you face criminal charges, the cost for a lawyer depends on how far things go.
Let’s look at some prices that top-tier lawyers would charge you considering these three examples:
- The police choose not to prosecute you. Lucky you.
- A non-prosecution order by the prosecutor. This means things went a step further. Your legal fees for this can be a few hundred thousand baht.
- A non-guilty verdict by a court. If it’s not a super-complex case without any appeals, an international law firm costs you 1.5 million baht to 2.5 million baht.
If your case goes to court, even when hiring a cheaper firm, you can spend at least 100,000 baht in legal fees to avoid getting railed.
If you hire a top-tier lawyer to help you with a labor dispute, expect to pay 50,000 baht to 100,000 baht up front.
On top of that you pay another 20% to 40% of the settlement, depending on if your case gets settled or goes to trial.
You best move is to avoid labor disputes. To start, you can brush up on the common cross-cultural management challenges.
For most employees, hiring a top-tier lawyer isn’t worth it. There are other ways you can go about settling labor disputes even when smaller amounts are at stake.
If you buy a condo and want to hire an international lawyer, expect to pay around 40,000 baht to 120,000 baht.
With well-known property developers, people often opt not to hire a lawyer and instead trust the developer.
But you could run into a few challenges when buying a condo so you might want to talk to a lawyer.
If you want to hire someone to help you out as a tenant, things look a bit gloomy. Most rental disputes are not worth involving a lawyer.
But if you have at least 100,000 baht on the line, it doesn’t make financial sense to go down that route.
Lawyers don’t usually write warning letters in Thailand either. Instead, they write letters inviting landlords to negotiate disputes.
But these letters might not work with scrupulous landlords.
Lawyer Rankings and Lists
Third parties do offer general lists and rankings of the “best” Thailand lawyers. But no lists, and especially no rankings, are without criticism.
Lawyers I talk to have beefs with lists. That said, you can use the methods below to start your search for a lawyer in Thailand. But take the entries with a grain of salt.
Your embassy should be your first source of info on lawyers. They can give you a list of lawyers who they or your fellow country people have worked with.
Your embassy’s list of lawyers is useful for if you want to know things that happen outside of Thailand, including:
- moving to Thailand
- drawing income from abroad
- running a business in another country
Not all lawyers and firms on the list have intricate knowledge of the embassy’s countries, but you can find many that do on those lists.
Your biggest challenge with the list of lawyers your embassy gives you is vetting a decent lawyer.
The lists are like the yellow pages, not a record of great lawyers. Just because an embassy lists a law firm it doesn’t mean they’re any good.
Some lists are curated, others have less stringent criteria, and some may not be up to date.
Not all embassies maintain lists. The ones I know of I included below. If you are aware of any others, please let me know in the comments or send me an email.
- Australia asks you to send an email to [email protected] to get their lawyer list
- Belgium nationals in need of legal help are encouraged to email [email protected]
- Canada has a list on their website
- France has a list on their website—you can check out the Canadian list above which also lists French-speaking lawyers
- Ireland doesn’t have a list on their website anymore, but sends you an updated list of lawyers by email
- United Kingdom no longer have a list of their website
- United States has a list on their website
- Singapore has no list on their website, but if you ask they could send you one
A lot of embassies in Bangkok, including Russia’s, don’t offer a lawyers list. I assume some embassies not on my list above have lawyer lists if you ask for them.
A few lawyers I know criticize the lists by embassies because of a lack of vetting, transparency, and updates.
You can always ask your embassy how they pick the list of lawyers if in doubt.
Legal 500 ranks law firms in different commercial law categories, based on how firms and their peers assess themselves.
There is some criticism of their ranking because they base the rankings on feedback from lawyers and not clients.
Some people in the industry argue that the extensive surveys Legal 500 uses favors firms with extensive marketing departments.
But at the end of the day it’s a list of firms that are known in their respective fields, regardless if the specific order in which they’re ranked is accurate or not.
Most firms listed are also among the most expensive.
Aside from a few boutique law firms, smaller firms and companies with lower rates might not have the necessary resources or exposure to get ranked.
Lawyers in Thailand
You can find the best and most expensive lawyer in a given field, but finding one within your budget for a specific problem can be more of a challenge.
In the sections below you can find a few firms that offer individuals and small and medium-sized businesses a starting point for legal help.
Lawyers in Bangkok
Based on talking to a lot of fellow entrepreneurs, managers, lawyers, and even academics, I’ve compiled a list of law firms in Bangkok to help you get started.
Sorted by field of practice, the list suggests the lawyers you can reach out to for your legal case.
It’s a great starting point if you are facing a legal problem and try to figure out what lawyer you should get in touch with.
If you’re not sure which lawyer to contact, reach out to us and we can help you find the right lawyer for your case.
Lawyers in Phuket
Aside from Bangkok, Phuket is another major hub for law firms in Thailand. Here’s a list of firms in Phuket to help you get started.
Law firms in Phuket mostly focus on real estate. So if you have an unusual case, like a copyright dispute, you should reach out to a lawyer in Bangkok.
Contracts and Other Legal Documents
Oftentimes you don’t need a lawyer, but just a contract template that doesn’t have to be customized.
Major law firms like Lorenz & Partners offer standard document sets at fixed rates that cost a fraction of custom created documents.
These are worth the price when your only other choice is to cobble documents together from the internet.
If you need basic documents but don’t need them customized, ThaiContracts is a quick and easy fix.
ThaiContracts lets you to buy and download forms for personal and business matters in Thailand.
I hear of people who hire lawyers from major firms on a freelance basis to help out with smaller legal problems and documents.
I would avoid this route since the lawyer would have to violate the non-compete agreement they have with their firm.
And having a lawyer represent you in court “on the side” is an no-go and a fast way for a lawyer to get disbarred.
Now, on to You
I hope this article comes in handy next time you have to prepare for a meeting with a lawyer.
If you work with any lawyers in Thailand (listed here or not) and feel confident in recommending them to your mom, then I also want to hear about them.
I appreciate any input on this topic, and it would be great if you can take the time to send me your feedback and experience.
If you find your own law firm on this list and you notice any inaccuracies (or want to me to remove you from the list), please send me an email and I’ll gladly update it.