Thailand’s Top 100 Lawyers 2021
After an extensive nomination process Journal of Asian Business Law reveals the A-list of the Thai legal profession. Report by Lim Miran and Putro Harnowo
HHeavily tourism-dependent Thailand has taken on a heavy burden following the lockdown and travel restrictions related to the pandemic. But the country has struggled and sought a rebound through foreign investment, cryptocurrencies, and digital assets, which have attracted great interest, and given hope to the economy.
The country’s GDP contracted 6.1% last year, the biggest slump since the 1997 Asian crisis. Before the pandemic, tourism generally contributed 12% of the economy. Almost 40 million foreign visitors spent $ 58 billion in 2019. A surge in Covid-19 cases and stricter containment measures meant only 300,000 foreign tourists this year.
The government has taken a number of measures to help small and medium-sized businesses affected by the pandemic, from financial aid to debt moratoriums to low-interest financial aid.
The global economic recovery is expected to boost exports, which made up 60% of the economy before the pandemic. However, the Bank of Thailand (BoT) forecasts that the economy will only grow 0.7% this year due to weakening domestic demand and ongoing economic shock waves.
On the plus side, the Thailand Board of Investment announced in August that the number of foreign direct investment applications had increased by 14% and 158% combined in the first six months of 2021 compared to the same period last year. The target industries include power generation, electrical appliances and electronics, medicine, petrochemicals and chemicals, and agriculture and food processing.
Thailand was among the first jurisdictions in the region to specifically regulate virtual currencies through the enactment of the Digital Asset Act of 2018, which provides clear definitions of the different types of digital assets and different requirements for crypto traders. Since then, interest in cryptocurrencies and digital assets has increased significantly despite the contractions in the market.
In an April 2021 report titled “The Way Forward for Retail Central Bank Digital Currency in Thailand,” the BoT reported that the trading volume of domestic crypto exchanges increased 17-fold, from $ 143 million in 2018 to $ 2.49 billion in 2020, the central bank also developed its own crypto to expedite transactions between banks and created a sandbox for commercial banks to experiment with digital currencies.
Against this background, Journal of Asian Business Law presents its A-list of the 100 best lawyers in Thailand (see the list of all 100 lawyers and key areas of practice for which they are recommended under this article). The list is based on extensive research and nominations from in-house lawyers at home and abroad as well as from Thai partners in international law firms based outside of the jurisdiction.
Comments sent to Journal of Asian Business Law suggest that lawyers with local knowledge and experience are sought, but those with extensive knowledge of the upcoming trends and a global mindset are highly regarded for tackling the ever-changing business affairs.
Almost all A-List lawyers are based in the state capital, Bangkok – which is where companies, think tanks, and policy makers are based – as the best place to network. The city has developed into one of the most important economic centers in Asia, where modern and traditional infrastructure meet and serve as an important access point for the region’s markets and international trade.
Beyond the border
Thailand offers foreign companies a lucrative prospect with a strategic location that allows it to serve as a gateway to the Asean market and bridge two giants – China and India. But starting and running businesses in the country can be a daunting task, and many A-list attorneys are recognized for their valuable advice.
Yutana Saithai, Head of Foreign Direct Investment Advisory at UOB in Bangkok, recommends Bunnasomboon (Aaron) Chaiparinya, a partner at JTJB International Lawyers, as “a professional attorney with excellent knowledge of both international law and local regulations – excellent service spirit”.
Cindy Ng, Associate Director of Trust Services and Private Wealth at Singapore-based private equity firm Vistra, agrees. “Aaron is very professional and competent in advising on tax, inheritance, investment and fiduciary issues,” says Ng. “He has very good skills in dealing with people and is able to speak and articulate complex concepts in lay language.”
Tatsuru Kobayashi, senior manager at financial services company NEC Capital Solutions in Tokyo, praises Palawi Bunnag, partner at International Legal Counselors Thailand (ILCT), for helping the company invest and building a business alliance at the end of 2020. “We have provided insight and unwavering support It was a great help to us when our deal could not be completed in the very difficult situation caused by the never-ending pandemic, “says Kobayashi.
Barbara Kuemmerle, head of the legal department of the tunnel construction company Herrenknecht in Freiburg, nominated Till Morstadt, managing partner of Lorenz & Partners, for his “quick and comprehensive legal advice and practical support in all areas of commercial and corporate law” for the company and its subsidiary in Thailand .
“I would like to emphasize his wealth of experience and his very practical orientation, which are very useful for finding quick and effective solutions to all questions in business life,” says Kuemmerle.
Patrick Gruendel, Global Head of Tax at the IT and cloud service provider SoftwareOne in Stans, Switzerland, describes Morstadt as “a lawyer who gives clear answers and no ‘could-would’ opinions.
“Aside from that, [Morstadt has] very precise predictions of how a dispute will develop and what is needed to influence the case in a certain way, ”says Gruendel. “That is outstanding in the consulting industry.”
Brendan Hanley, Assistant General Counsel at American computer storage device manufacturer Western Digital in Bangkok, says Alan Adcock, partner at Tilleke & Gibbins, is the business partner every company is looking for. “He understands our business, is quick to react, and is always on hand to provide advice and assistance,” says Hanley. “These qualities make Alan appear less like a person from a ‘company we’re hiring’ and more like a ‘strategic partner’.”
Maricef Valderrama, legal advisor to the Italian confectionery manufacturer Ferrero Asia-Pacific in Singapore, adds: “Alan is very professional, responsive and fun to work with.”
Michael Lorenz, founding partner of Lorenz & Partners, is praised by Christine Russel-Wittebrood, managing director of the global logistics service provider Leschaco in Bangkok, for “professional and well-founded knowledge and advice”.
Markus Winter, CEO of the beverage manufacturer Krones in Bangkok, also thanks Lorenz for the “decades of competent and fast support”.
With numerous free trade agreements, Thailand is an attractive place for international trade. But opportunities come with risks, and lawyers who manage their clients’ businesses need to seek out local advisors to create a sustainable base.
Jason Corbett, Managing Partner of Silk Legal, is recommended by Azmul Haque, Managing Director of Collyer Law in Singapore. “Jason is a bright lawyer who is both business-minded and an entrepreneur at heart,” says Haque. “He is my lawyer of choice for Thailand affairs.”
Elmer Muna, partner at Wallless in Tallinn, Estonia, agrees. “Jason Corbett provided our customers with high quality insight into laws and legal opportunities in Thailand,” says Muna. “He also helped our customers to develop efficient cross-border solutions with companies in the EU.”
Warathorn Wongsawangsiri, partner at Herbert Smith Freehills, is highly regarded by Allen & Gledhill’s Singapore partner, Ramesh Selvaraj, who ranks him among the top dispute resolution and arbitration attorneys in Thailand.
“[Wongsawangsiri] shows maturity beyond his years and runs and manages a tight ship of lawyers very well, ”says Selvaraj. “He and his team are extremely responsive, provide sound advice and keep the client by the hand during the entire process … I have no qualms about recommending Warathorn to anyone who needs legal assistance.”
Stephen Cheong, attorney and attorney at Sharpe & Jagger in Singapore, recommends Kudun Sukhumananda, founding partner of Kudun & Partners, as “one of the most productive rainmakers in Thailand because he is extremely astute, accomplished and enterprising”.
Cheong also vouches for Pisut & Partners’ managing partner Pisut Rakwong that he is “very versatile and consistently able to think outside the box. Very creative and dynamic. “
Rakwong is also commended by Loh Kia Meng, Senior Partner and Chief Operating Officer at Dentons in Singapore, for “being very responsive to inquiries and having a broad network of professionals”.
Compilation of the A list
The A-list is based on extensive research by Journal of Asian Business Law. To identify the top 100 lawyers in Thailand, we surveyed thousands of in-house counsel in Thailand and around the world – as well as international law firm partners – and asked them to tell us which lawyers should make the cut and why.
Nominations were made by professionals from a variety of Thai and global companies, financial institutions and law firms, including: Allen & Gledhill, ASLAN Pharma, b + b Burkhardt + Bischoff, BDB Taxise, BizWings Thailand, Berli Jucker, Cabinet Zazoua, Collyer Law, Consulthink, Dentons , Detecon, EGB Abogados, Enterprise Singapore, Ferrero Asia Pacific, Gruenkorn & Partner, Herrenknecht, ICON Wirtschaftstreuhand, JLL, Kelakos Advisors, KPMG Thailand, Krones Thailand, Leschaco (Thailand), Liebherr (Thailand), Maschinenfabrik Berthold Hermle, Mayer Brown, Miller Thomson, Minor International, Myo Win & Associates, NEC Capital Solutions, Nishimura & Asahi, Pinsent Masons MPillay, Piper Alderman, Röchling Automotive Asia, ROXCEL Trading, SCG, Sharpe & Jagger, SoftwareONE, Tanner De Witt, Taxise Asia, Torqeedo, TraTax, UOB Thailand, Vistra Singapore, Voith Hydro Shanghai, Walalangi & Partners, Wallless, Western Digital Storage Technologies (Thailand), WTS Consulting and many more. Thorough editorial research followed the nomination process.
The final list contains the nominations received, combined with Journal of Asian Business Law More than 30 years of collective experience of the editorial team in the documentation and analysis of the Thai legal market.
All Thai private lawyers could automatically be included in the nomination process and, as always, there were no fees or other admission requirements.
The names and photos of all 100 A-List attorneys are published here. In addition, each A-List attorney was given the opportunity to provide their biography and contact details, for which a publication 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 were written by the attending lawyers and the content was not independently verified by Journal of Asian Business Law.