On June 21, 2021, Thailand’s Government Gazette announced that His Majesty the King of Thailand has conferred a royal decoration on David Lyman, Chairman and Chief Values Officer of regional Southeast Asian law firm Tilleke & Gibbins, for his lifelong dedication to the improvement of the Thai nation and its relations with the United States.
His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn Phra Vajiraklaochaoyuhua officially granted the royal decoration on May 25, 2021, and it was countersigned by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha the following week. The distinction Lyman was awarded is Member (5th Class) of the Most Admirable Order of Direkgunabhorn, which is bestowed upon on individuals who make an outstanding contribution to the Kingdom of Thailand.
As a longtime resident of Thailand and leading figure in the country’s business community, Lyman has been a steady supporter of many environmental, social, cultural, and philanthropic endeavors throughout the country. The official announcement noted the breadth of his contributions, praised his efforts to promote international relations and cooperation, and specifically cited the major role Lyman had in driving the construction project of the Geodesic Dome for desert plants at the American Garden of Suan Luang Rama IX—a public park commemorating His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great.
Lyman’s charitable work in Thailand has been considerable, covering a range of activities including animal welfare and environmental protection, support for musical and cultural institutions, AIDS prevention, public health, education, and others. Some of the recognitions Lyman has received for his contributions are the Thai Suan Luang Rama IX Commemorative Coin, presented by HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn in 1988; a Miniature Cartridge Pouch Pin of the First Infantry Regiment, the King’s Own Bodyguard in 2003; the Phra Dulyathipat Badge, awarded by the Council of the Judge Advocate General’s School in 2014; an apostolic blessing imparted by His Holiness Pope Francis on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Father Ray Children’s Home in Thailand in 2014; and an award in 2016 bestowed by Thailand’s National Legislative Assembly in recognition of Lyman’s efforts to protect abandoned animals. In November 2018, Lyman received the American Embassy Gold Award “for extraordinary dedication and service to the Peoples of Thailand and the United States”, delivered by Mr. Greg Wong, then U.S. Commercial Counselor. According to Mr. Wong, this award has only been given 3 times before by the embassy.
“David’s lifelong dedication to supporting Thailand and its people is an inspiration to all of us at the firm,” said Tiziana Sucharitkul, co-managing partner of Tilleke & Gibbins, upon learning of the designation. “His unbending commitment to being a responsible member of the community is integral in ensuring that the firm always stays true to its core values, and we are so pleased to see him receive this great honor.”
Lyman first moved to Bangkok in 1949 as a young boy with his lawyer parents, Albert and Freda Ring Lyman, who bought Tilleke & Gibbins in 1951. He studied engineering at Duke University where he joined the Naval Reserve Officers’ Training Corps. Upon graduation he spent four years with the United States Navy as an officer first on a minesweeper and thereafter, for 9 years, active and reserve, as a submariner. He then earned his law degree from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law, before eventually returning to Bangkok and joining his parents’ firm as an associate in 1967. From there he grew in prominence among the business community in Bangkok, assuming leadership positions in community and business associations such as the American Chamber of Commerce in Thailand, the Joint Foreign Chambers of Commerce in Thailand, the International Chamber of Commerce, the World Economic Forum and the International Crisis Group.
Tilleke & Gibbins, which has seven offices across six countries in Southeast Asia, is a full-service law firm advising regional and international clients through its comprehensive corporate and commercial, dispute resolution, and intellectual property practice groups.