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Prominent businesswoman who pioneered her field of law.


Mai Chen is Managing Partner at Chen Palmer Public and Employment Law Specialists, New Zealand, and Adjunct Professor at the University of Auckland School of Law.

Previous experience
She was previously Adjunct Professor in Commercial and Public Law at the University of Auckland Business School.

Chen Palmer won the Best Boutique Law Firm in 2010, the Best Public Law Firm in the New Zealand Law Awards from 2007 - 2011 and in 2013 and was a finalist in the Employment Law Awards in 2011. The firm has offices in Wellington and Auckland and celebrated its 20th Anniversary in November 2014. Chen Palmer was one of NZ's first boutique law firms and was Australasia's first 'Washington-style' law firm specialising in legislation and public policy. Mai is one of NZ's top constitutional and administrative law experts and specialises in central and local Government policy and legislation, especially as it applies to business. She litigates major cases and is one of NZ's top strategic problem solvers of law, public policy and business problems.

Mai was in the top 10 finalists for 2014 New Zealander of the Year. She won the supreme Judges Panel Award and the Professional Excellence Award at the New Zealand Chinese Business Elite Awards in 2012, and also the Business and Entrepreneur Women of Influence Award in 2013. Mai won Next Magazine's Business Woman of the Year in 2011, and is a World's Best New Zealander in the Kiwi Expatriates Network. Mai was listed in the 2009 and 2010 Unlimited magazine's top Influencers List.

Mai is the best-selling author of Public Law Toolbox (LexisNexis, 2012) and Transforming Auckland: The Creation of Auckland Council (LexisNexis, 2014). The second edition of Public Law Toolbox was published in 2014.

Current work
Mai is the inaugural Chair of NZ Global Women, an organisation which includes NZ's top 200 women leaders and founded NZ Asian Leaders in 2013. NZ Asian Leaders connects top Asian NZ CEOs and emerging leaders with New Zealand companies doing business in Asia to enhance their success. She also helped to establish the Pacifica Leadership Academy at BEST Pacific Institute of Education, formerly led by Olympic medallist Beatrice Faumuina.

Mai sat on the Securities Commission, on the NZ Board of Trade and Enterprise's Beachheads Programme, the Asia New Zealand Foundation and the Advisory Board of AMP Life Limited (NZ). She was President of the Harvard New Zealand Alumni Association (NZ) for ten years. Mai currently sits on the board of directors for the Bank of New Zealand.

Mai has a First Class Law Honours degree from Otago University and a Masters degree from Harvard Law School. She is a Fellow of the New Zealand Institute of Management and an Honorary Associate of Auckland University of Technology. She was born in Taiwan and emigrated to NZ in 1970 with her family. She became a NZ citizen in 1977.

Currently, Mai is working on a Superdiversity Stocktake of law, public policy and business implications using NZ's experience with Auckland as an example, as it already has a diverse population, approximately 50% of which is Maori, Pacifica or Asian.

‘Mai had researched the audience and the industry. Her talk was topical, controversial and entertaining’ Conference Innovators

‘We were impressed with the very specific homework Mai did on the Association before her presentation and it all hit the spot perfectly’.

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