|Somsak – A reader is awaiting answer to ‘Songkran Troubles|
– How to react?’
I have always been fascinated in Thailand by advice columns all over the place – usually in newspapers – where people with problems are invited to pose their questions to the resident lawyer – and get an answer for free.
This is because I come from a country where, during most of my early days in journalism, lawyers were actually forbidden to advertise their services and the Bar Council was horrified at the American approach.
These resident lawyers of course dispense advice for free – though of course nothing is for free. The idea is to garner business for themselves by a higher profile projection.
Controversial American Drew Noyes used to do it at his Pattaya Times with his ‘Ask Drew Noyes column’. He used it once as a basis for a diatribe against me – this was after the famous ‘wanker’ question posed by the now legendary Mangus Evans. Noyes of course was revealed as, er, not a lawyer.
|Ask Drew Noyes|
Recently Thaivisa.com started their own ‘Ask the Lawyer’ page and of course the more cynical would view this as business related.
The lawyer they have chosen is Somsak Chopaka of Siam Firm Inter Laws. I do not know who dreams up these names for legal firms in Thailand. Somsak has also done a legal advice column for the Pattaya People the paper read by most of foreigners who need lawyers in Pattaya.
As you can see below – when I checked today – he still seems have a lot of questions to answer. He must be on holiday or otherwise engaged.
Siam Firm Inter Laws used to be on the British Embassy lawyers list but the company was taken off last year. There was a complaint from a British citizen but I cannot go into its nature.
This is a typical reply from the Embassy in these sort of situations.
“Thank you for your consular enquiry and I’m sorry that you have had an unsavoury experience using a lawyer on the Embassy lawyer’s list.
As I’m sure you will appreciate, we try very hard to maintain a list of well-established Thai law firms with a good track history. We take complaints, such as yours, very seriously and I will be raising this matter with HM Consul.
We of course make it clear that we as an embassy cannot guarantee the quality or integrity of any lawyer who appears on our list, but consideration is always taken when we receive legitimate complaints to remove such practices from our lists and publications”.
I should stress that Siam Firm Inter Law is on the US Embassy list and probably also of other missions in Bangkok and of course there is no suggestion that they it is unsavoury. It’s possible he just does not get on well with certain Brits. I can understand that.