Asia Business Law Journal reveals Thailand’s top 100 lawyers in 2019. Putro Harnowo reports
To be one of Thailand’s top lawyers, you have to be an advocate with insightful advice, one who is “always unbiased, spot-on, well researched; and once a decision has been made, flawlessly implemented,” says Eric Rose, of counsel at Herzfeld & Rubin PC in the US, when describing the founder and managing director of Dej-Udom & Associates, Dej-Udom Krairit, with whom his firm has worked with for more than 25 years on a multitude of projects.
Similar views are also expressed by Benjamin Hirasawa, partner and head of hospitality & leisure, Asia-Pacific at Clyde & Co Clasis in Singapore, commending Chatchavej Chitvarakorn, a partner at Siam Premier. “Chatchavej’s work ethic, integrity, industry knowledge and commitment to his clients is world class. He is a role model for the profession and legal services in Thailand.”
Jasreen Singh, group general counsel of dwp International in Thailand, says Vinay Ahuja, a partner at DFDL, “has extensive knowledge of laws applicable to various countries in Southeast Asia. Vinay handles all queries in a timely manner, be it legal opinions or other legal matters. All are handled and addressed with due care.”
Anchana Yolrabil, financial adviser at EforL Aim PCL, says Panuwat Chalongkuamdee, a partner at Weerawong Chinnavat & Partners, “has a deep knowledge and gives good recommendations to solve any problem”.
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 client-friendly, have a great understanding of business needs and are culturally sensitive. In addition, most international clients are looking for Thai lawyers who have a range of expertise and a global mindset.
Singing high praises
With the significant jump to 21st from 27th out of 190 countries in the World Bank’s 2020 ease of doing business rankings, Thailand remains attractive to international investors for its openness to trade. The country has been a regional hub for many sectors, most notably automotive and finance. The massive impact of fintech has inevitably forced commercial banks to improve their technologies in order to compete with fast-growing e-payment applications. These ongoing changes on the legal landscape make it imperative for both domestic and international businesses to seek legal assistance when navigating their transactions.
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 size, factors that are predominant in other 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 100 lawyers and the key practice areas for which they are endorsed following this article). 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.
As would be expected, many of the heads of Thailand’s top law firms are on the A-List. These include: Chalermchai Intarasupa, executive partner and founder of CICS & Partners; Chavalit Uttasart, managing and founding partner of SCL Law Group; Daniel Chernov, managing partner of Siam ADR; David Doran, founding partner of DFDL; Darani Vachanavuttivong, co-managing partner of Tilleke & Gibbins; Kowit Somwaiya, managing partner of LawPlus; Kudun Sukhumananda, founding partner of Kudun and Partners; Naiyachon Tathong, managing partner of JTJB International Lawyers; and Michael Lorenz, founding partner of Lorenz & Partners; Nuttaphol Arammuang, managing partner of ZICOlaw; and Pisut Rakwong, managing partner of Pisut & Partners.
Troy Schooneman, partner and head of international practice group at Kudun and Partners, receives this praise from a senior counsel in the US, who wished to remain anonymous: “Troy is a seasoned corporate/M&A lawyer capable of handling complex cross-border transactions. [He has] excellent technical drafting skills coupled with the ability to bridge cultures. Troy is fluent in Thai and someone you want on your side of the table.”
Aloysius Wee, managing partner at Aquinas Law Alliance in Singapore, describes John Sutham Apisith, managing partner of Apisith & Alliance as a “highly experienced lawyer handling cross-border work. He understands the business culture of his clients, a significant number of whom are Japanese. He is a diligent and commercially-minded lawyer who works for his client’s best interests.”
Similarly, Ian Johnston, a partner at Kennedys, receives admiration from Karnan Thirupathy, the director of Legal Solutions law firm in Singapore, who says: “Ian is one of Thailand’s leading lawyers on insurance law and international arbitration. He is very experienced in dealing with issues arising from complex property losses in Thailand and Southeast Asia.”
Eric Rose, of counsel at Herzfeld & Rubin PC in the US, commends Dej-Udom Krairit, founder and managing director of Dej-Udom & Associates, for his work. “I have worked with Khun Dej and his firm for over 25 years on a multitude of projects in Thailand, including greenfield factories, HR, real estate, investment management, tax, IP, M&A, and corporate,” says Rose. “His advice has always been unbiased, spot-on, well researched and, once a decision was made, flawlessly implemented.”
Luu Tien Ngoc, a partner at Vision & Associates in Vietnam, describes Andreas Richter, senior partner at Blumenthal Richter & Sumet in Bangkok, as someone who has worked as a team leader on the negotiation, preparation and implementation of some of the region’s most significant investment projects of chemical, food, and automotive supplier manufacturing facilities, as well as regional service and distribution companies. “He is regularly called upon to render specialist advice to prominent foreign law firms whose clients are entering the Thailand market, and to assist with Thailand-related aspects of global transactions and acquisitions,” says Ngoc.
He also praises Ittinant Suwanjutha, another partner at Blumenthal Richter & Sumet. “Reacting first to the latest developments in the legal and business sectors … Ittinant has worked with some of Thailand’s most prestigious law firms and is highly regarded amongst his peers in the Thai legal community,” he says.
A-list women lawyers
Tiu Gi Gyn, a partner at Chooi & Company + Cheang & Ariff in Malaysia, describes Threenuch Bunruangthaworn, executive partner at ZICO Law Thailand, as “very dynamic and responsive, and great to work with in cross-border deals due to her experience in regional work and secondment in ZICO’s Kuala Lumpur office.”
Not to be outshone by their male peers, a portion of the A-List was filled by Thailand’s leading women lawyers including: Ratana Poonsombudlert, a senior partner at Chandler MHM, who specializes in M&A, corporate law and project financing; Audray Souche, a partner and 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.
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 made by professionals from a wide range of Thailand and global companies and law firms, including: Clyde & Co Clasis Singapore; Chooi & Company + Cheang & Ariff; Legal Solutions; Aquinas Law Alliance; Vision & Associates; dwp International; Deliveree; Mataram Partners; aCommerce Group Ltd; Western Union, India; Herzfeld & Rubin PC; Axinan; UIB Holdings; Gateway Law Corporation; UC Associates: Bhutan Law Office; Global Upside; Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer; Ella Cheong; EforL Aim PCL; Beehvie Asia; Eatigo International; and many more. The nominations were supported by detailed research from secondary sources.
The final list reflects the nominations received combined with 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.