Legal aid is a very sensitive issue because in many instances, it determines a person’s freedom in case they are in legal trouble or need legal help. It is therefore important to understand who is a licensed Thai lawyer and who is an unlicensed attorney. Why is this important? Having an incompetent legal representation can further worsen your legal situation.
According to the Thailand Lawyers Act B.E 2528, a Thai lawyer is defined as a person who has been registered as a lawyer and has been issued a license by the Law Society of Thailand. Form this definition, it is clear to see that a licensed Thai lawyer is a lawyer who has been issued a license by the Law Society of Thailand. Now, before a Thai lawyer is given this license, they must have an education in law.
In Thailand, no one can practice law or call themselves a lawyer if they have not had a law education, are not registered and are not licensed to practice. In other parts of the world like the United Kingdom, lawyers are divided into barristers and solicitors but a licensed Thai lawyer is just that: a licensed Thai lawyer. There are no such divisions. Furthermore, to be licensed as a Thai lawyer, lawyers in Thailand are not required to pass a bar examination like in the United States.
As mentioned, a Thai lawyer is given a license by the Law Society of Thailand. This society operates to promote, educate and supervise its members. In order to be part of the Law Society of Thailand, an individual must meet certain requirements including:
- Educational requirements which are that the candidate must have obtained a bachelor’s degree in law or an associate degree in law from an educational institution accredited by the Law Society of Thailand
- The individual must be a member of the Thai Bar Association
After becoming a member of the Law Society of Thailand, an individual can then be registered and obtain a lawyer’s license. In order to become a licensed Thai lawyer a candidate must complete training in professional ethics and the basic principle of advocacy and the legal profession. The Institute of Law Practice Training which is a part of the Law Society of Thailand runs this training course.
The course is usually divided into two terms:
- Term one, the candidate learns the theory of case conduct and professional ethics for not less than 90 hours.
- In term two, the candidate must practice working in a qualified law office for at least six months.
At the end of every term, an examination is held and after completion of the training course, a candidate can then apply for a license from the Law Society of Thailand.
So then, what is a licensed Thai lawyer? A licensed Thai lawyer is a lawyer who has met all the requirements laid out by the Law Society of Thailand, has successfully completed the training course run by the society and has satisfied the Law Society that they are deserving of a license to practice Thai law.