Finding a reputable lawyer in any country is not a simple task, and this is especially true in Thailand. All lawyer firms will tell you how competent they are. Every firm of lawyers in Thailand probably has a website full of testimonials from satisfied customers. So what can you do?
Well despite its shortcomings the internet is still a good place to start. Here are a few guidelines to help you in an internet search for a reputable lawyer to help you deal with the complexities of Thai law in regard to buying and selling property, and setting up your own Thai company.
1) The first place to go is a forum. Forums give you information and advice from people who have been in similar situations to you. One of the biggest forums for issues related to buying property abroad is: http://www.propertycommunity.com/
2) A forum specifically for Thailand that is well subscribed is: www.thaivisa.com/forum. You can post nearly any question here and get a host of answers.
3) It is worth looking at several websites for Thai lawyers. You will soon begin to notice which websites look more professional. Looks can be deceptive, but on the internet a really professional looking website with clear easy to understand text is a good indicator of a reputable law firm. Have a look at www.limcharoen.com. This site provides a good bench mark for what a serious law firm's website should look like.
Other things you should consider when choosing a law firm:
1) Is there any connection between the developer and the law firm? It is worth asking. There is an obvious conflict of interest if a law firm represents both seller and buyer.
2) Following on from the previous point, be wary of taking the advice of a property developer when choosing a law firm in Thailand.
3) If you are buying property or land in Koh Phangan, then it is a very good idea to seek legal council in Koh Samui or further afield. The law firms on Koh Phangan have an unproven track record. Whereas, law firms in Koh Samui, Phuket, Hua Hin and Bangkok have been operating for much longer in the property field and can provide much better legal advice.
4) Word of mouth is an invaluable resource. If you meet anyone who has experience of the property market in Thailand then you should pick their brain.
5) When buying property or land in Thailand or when leasing land in Thailand the first thing any lawyer should do is check at the land registry office to make sure the seller really does really own the land; and what type of land title the land has It sounds obvious but people continue to fall prey to this scam.
6) Finally, don't buy land or property on Koh Tao. The island is a legal oddity because it is a former prison colony and no proper land titles exist for the place.
Once you have decided on a few lawyer firms that seem legitimate and competent then the next step is to contact them. The promptness of the response as well as the professionalism exhibited by the response is another good indicator as to the quality of the law firm. Finally, arrange a meeting. The first meeting should be free. Ask difficult questions and use your intuition.
If you follow these guidelines you should be able to find a reputable law firm in Thailand. There are many to choose from.