NZ Asian Lawyers

NZ Asian Lawyers advocate for equal access to justice for all New Zealanders and no barriers to Asian lawyers reaching the top of the profession.

Currently 1 out of every 9 lawyers in New Zealand identifies as Asian. NZ Asian Lawyers collectively advocate for our profession to better reflect that demographic, and at all levels.

As a stakeholder group, NZ Asian Lawyers are regularly invited to have a say on important matters that affect the entire profession. NZ Asian Lawyers also organise public events and member events that further those objectives.

Mai Chen
President of NZ Asian Lawyers

Mai was born in Taiwan and immigrated to NZ in 1970 when she was a young girl speaking only Mandarin. She has a First Class Law Honours degree from Otago University, a Masters degree from Harvard Law School, is a Fellow of the New Zealand Institute of Management, and an Honorary Associate of Auckland University of Technology.

Mai is one of NZ’s top constitutional and administrative law experts, specialising in central and local Government policy and legislation, and litigating major public law cases. Mai also specialises in evidential issues concerning cultural and linguistically diverse litigants. Mai is also a judicial review specialist. She is a Barrister with over 30 years of experience in Public and Administrative Law, Te Tiriti o Waitangi Issues, regulatory, judicial review, inquiries and reviews and employment law issues. She has also worked extensively in law and policy reform, as the cases below show, she has also had extensive advocacy experience from the Supreme Court down to various Tribunals.

Mai was named in the Top 50 Diversity Figures in Public Life in the Global Diversity List, supported by The Economist. Mai specialises in advising Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) parties in the Courts, especially in areas of regulatory breach and enforcement.

Mai advises on complex employment issues for boards and CEOs and has expertise on investigations and governance issues. She has acted for public and private organisations and is a top legal problem solver and litigator. She is known as a creative problem solver, often of last resort when conventional legal thinking has been tried and failed. She has a gift for settling difficult legal problems. She has a good strategic brain and can pretty accurately predict what is likely to happen and thus how best to prevent a certain decision or achieve a particular outcome. Mai is also a thought leader, a direction setter and a futures thinker.

Mai is approved by the New Zealand Law Society to take direct instructions from clients in certain situations.

Pam Davidson
Vice-President of the New Zealand Asian Lawyers

Pam is a Malaysian-born barrister of Chinese descent in Lambton Chambers. Her specialist area is in taxation law, but she also practises regulatory and public law, estate and trust law, relationship property, charities law and commercial and company law. She has been a judge’s clerk, practised in a large law firm, and spent time in the Treasury and the Inland Revenue Department.

She is currently a member of the Tax Law Committee of the New Zealand Law Society, and on the Board of Trustees of the Todd Foundation.  She was the president of the Wellington District Law Society from 2004 to 2006 and has been a Board member of the New Zealand Law Society.

Takeshi Ito
Secretary of the New Zealand Asian Lawyers

Takeshi is Vice President Legal for two NZX-listed companies (Millennium & Copthorne Hotels New Zealand Limited and CDL Investments New Zealand Limited) and has over twenty five years of diverse in-house and private practice experience.

Dunedin-born (but Auckland raised), he graduated from the University of Auckland and was admitted as a Barrister and Solicitor. He is also a Fellow of the Chartered Governance Institute and Governance New Zealand and is a current Member of the Institute of Directors and has completed the Company Director’s Course.

Takeshi has been nominated twice as a finalist in the New Zealand Law Awards and was an integral part of the MCK and Bell Gully teams that won both Capital Markets Deal of the Year and International Deal of the Year for a complex transaction involving MCK and an overseas-listed property development company.

Karen Ngan
Chair of the Asian Women Lawyers Committee
Karen is a Commercial Law partner at Simpson Grierson, leading the firm’s technology group, and co-leading the firm’s data protection and privacy group.

She has experience in a wide range of commercial matters, with a particular focus on working with customers and suppliers of technology solutions and services. Many of the projects Karen has advised on involve the procurement of business critical technology solutions or infrastructure, and arrangements for core services (including under ‘as a service’, managed services and outsourcing arrangements), and often undertaken as part of major business transformation programmes. Karen also regularly advises on emerging technologies, often in advising on the development of new technology based products and services (including the use of artificial intelligence and blockchain).

As a data protection and privacy lawyer Karen provides expert guidance to local and multi-national clients on a wide spectrum of privacy issues. This covers advice on practices relating to the collection and use of personal information, database and information management, cloud and outsourcing arrangements (often involving data transfers offshore), and the sharing and monetisation of personal information through online services and emerging technologies.

She is regularly recognised as a leading lawyer in her specialist areas in international legal directories, and is a current trustee of the New Zealand Law Foundation and on the Executive Council of Digital Identity New Zealand.

Alison Dymond
Chair of the Young Asian Lawyers Committee

Born in Hong Kong and educated in new Zealand, Ali is the head of the commercial and property teams at Schnauer & Co. Limited in Auckland having practiced in New Zealand and Bermuda over the past twenty years. She is particularly passionate about providing advice to business owners (mainly SME’s) and over the past two years has guided many of her clients through the difficult COVID-19 and post COVID-19 times. Ali is leading the Young Lawyers group within NZAL.

Yvonne Mortimer-Wang
Joint Chair of the Asian Litigators Committee

Yvonne has a double degree in Law and Commerce (Finance) from the University of Auckland and a Master of Public and International Law from the University of Melbourne with First Class Honours.  Yvonne was the 2016 Arthur Watts Fellowship intern at the British Institute of International and Comparative Law (London) and an Inner Temple Pegasus Scholar (London) in 2018.  She has a keen academic interest in comparative legal studies, corporate criminal law, proceeds of crime, administrative law, human rights law, access to justice and international investment law.

Yvonne began her career at the bar as an employed barrister and subsequently held tenancy as barrister sole at two sets of respected chambers in Auckland.  During this time, Yvonne worked with a number of prominent senior barristers and appeared in a wide range of District Court, High Court and Court of Appeal proceedings both as junior and sole counsel.  Most recently, Yvonne worked at the esteemed firm Meredith Connell where she specialised in High Court litigation under the Criminal Proceeds (Recovery) Act 2009. She also appeared as sole counsel in a number of criminal prosecutions as well as appellate and disciplinary hearings either as a Crown prosecutor or on behalf of other government clients.

Born in Shanghai, and raised both there and in New Zealand, Yvonne is bilingual in English and Chinese (including spoken dialects and written Chinese).  This background gives her insight into the dimensions and nuances of the law as experienced by immigrant communities, particularly from China.  As a member of the Diversity Committee of the New Zealand Bar Association, Yvonne is committed to advancing the interests of clients, colleagues and future members of the legal profession from a diverse range of ethnic backgrounds.

Augustine Chow
Joint Chair of the Asian Litigators Committee

Augustine is a general civil litigator with particular familiarity with relationship property, trust and contract issues. He is a contributing author to Fisher on Matrimonial and Relationship Property, and to the New Zealand edition of Cross on Evidence.

Augustine is a first-generation immigrant from Hong Kong and studied at the University of Auckland Law School. Prior to joining Bankside Chambers as a member in 2019, Augustine worked for the Hon. Robert Fisher QC and other members of Bankside Chambers. Augustine is fluent in Cantonese and speaks Mandarin.

Augustine is one of NZAL’s liaising members with the New Zealand Bar Association.

Lynne Van
Chair of the Asian Commercial Lawyers Committee

Lynne is a Partner at Anthony Harper, specialising in commercial litigation. She has advised on a range of complex matters, including shareholder disputes, governance and breach of directors’ duties, breach of trust claims, property litigation (Property Law Act, Unit Titles Act and Body Corporate governance), consumer credit, product liability issues and matrimonial property claims.

She has particular expertise insolvency and restructuring, banking and finance, and securities enforcement litigation. She has extensive experience advising creditors, debtors and insolvency practitioners on a range of issues including debt recovery, enforcement of personal guarantees, personal insolvency issues and compromises, company liquidation and receiverships, as well as Personal Property Securities Act 1999 security enforcement and priority issues. Lynne has appeared at all levels of Court, including the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal and Maori Appellate Court.

Ranked by Chambers and Partners (Global) (2021 and 2022) and Legal 500 (2016-2022).

She has a Master of Laws (Hons) from the University of Auckland specialising in Commercial Law and the Personal Property Securities Act. Most recently, Lynne completed Levels 1, 2 and 3 Te Reo classes at Unitech. She is fluent in English and has conversational Cantonese.

Prior to entering the legal profession, Lynne worked in the hospitality sector, predominantly in food and beverage (fine dining) but with experience in hotels, including 6 years with the Hilton Hotel in an assistant management position and SkyCity Grand.

Gehan Gunasekara
Chair of the Asian Academics Committee

Gehan Gunasekara is an Associate Professor and is Deputy Head of the Department of Commercial Law at the University of Auckland Business School. He specialises in the areas of franchising law and privacy law. He has published many articles on both information privacy and franchising in New Zealand and overseas and is a regular commentator in national media.His privacy research has been cited internationally, including by the Canadian Privacy Commissioner and by the Australian Law Reform Commission. He served as a member of the academic reference committee for the Review of Privacy by the New Zealand Law Commission and has subsequently played a role in advising the Government on reform of the Privacy Act 1993.

He is the former Chair of the Privacy Foundation New Zealand Inc., a not for profit organisation that helps protect New Zealanders’ privacy rights, through research and education and through highlighting privacy risks in all forms of law, technology and practice, and campaigning for practical and fair solutions. Gehan remains on its Committee as well as being Convenor of its Surveillance Working Group.

Karun Lakshman
Chair of the Asian Criminal Lawyers Committee

Karun came from Fiji to Aotearoa New Zealand in 1981 to study Law.  Karun obtained a bachelor of Laws and a Master of Laws from Victoria University and was admitted to the High Court of New Zealand in 1987 and in private practice.  Following the 1987 Filjian military coup d’etat in 1987, Karun returned to Fiji and appeared in writs of habeas corpus cases involving those in military detention.Karun returned to New Zealand in 1988 where he worked at Goddard Oakley Carter & Moran at their Lower Hutt office. Eventually, Karun re-joined Russell Buchanan, in partnership as Buchanan Lakshman. In 1996, Karun went to the independent bar and has been instructed in both criminal and civil litigation at trial and appellate levels.

Anita Chan QC
Joint Chair of the Asian Litigators Committee

Anita Chan QC is one of New Zealand’s leading family law barristers. She was appointed to the rank of Queen’s Counsel in 2014.  Anita’s practice is in complex relationship property and child cases, often with an international element (parties or property overseas, cross-border child abduction, forum disputes). Anita is often retained as counsel in cases involving farms, trusts, high-value assets, and complex asset structures. Anita is also appointed by the Courts as lawyer for children, a role she particularly enjoys.

Anita is a Fellow of the prestigious International Academy of Family Lawyers ( Only those practitioners recognised as the most experienced and skilled family law specialists in their respective countries are admitted as Fellows of the Academy. Anita presently serves as counsel to the Academy and has previously held the offices of Vice-President, Counsel, Parliamentarian and Governor respectively.

Anita chaired the New Zealand Law Society Family Law Section from 2000-2001. Anita is a member of the NZAL Board’s Litigation Committee and is the current Chair of FairWay Resolution Limited.
Anita will be liaising with the NZLS Family Law Section and the New Zealand Bar Association.

Below are profiles of some our members from information publically available and information provided to us. NZ Asian Lawyers consists of over 100 members from a wide variety of professional backgrounds working as lawyers, in-house counsel and within academia. 

Arthur Pan
Litigation Solicitor at Duncan Cotterill

Arthur has a Bachelor of Law and Bachelor of Arts from the University of Auckland. He was admitted as a solicitor and barrister in 2021.

Claudia Shan
Partner at Cone Marshall

Claudia completed her conjoint degrees BCom/LLB at the University of Auckland. Prior to entering practice in a leading New Zealand law firm in 2004, she worked in the Auckland office of Ernst & Young, focusing on tax. She has also worked in the Island of Guernsey, the Channel Islands, for almost 6 years for two leading offshore law firms and was at the time enrolled and admitted to practice as a Solicitor of the Supreme Court of England and Wales. Claudia specialises in all aspects of trust, private client, and international wealth planning.

Claudia is recognised as a specialist and has been appointed for a second term to 2 Auckland District Law Society committees, namely, The AML/CFT Law Committee and the Trust Law Committee. She is a full member of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners. She has published a number of articles in Private Client Practitioner, Tax Planning International and Trust & Trustees. Claudia also contributes to the New Zealand chapter of The Private Wealth & Private Client Law Review for the International Comparatives Legal Guide (ICLG).

Feifei Zhou
Solicitor at Solomons

Feifei completed her law degree at the University of Otago. In addition, she holds a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Engineering from the Anhui University of Architecture in China, and a post graduate diploma in Environmental Science from the University of Otago. She is fluent in both English and Mandarin.

Her practice areas include Dispute Resolution, Relationship Property, Trust Formation and Succession Planning, Immigration, Property, Commercial, and Employment Law.

Iswari (Ish) Jayanandan
Barrister Sole

Ish was originally born in Sri Lanka but moved to New Zealand as a child. She graduated from University of Auckland with an LLB and a BCom. She has been a barrister sole since 2010 and she practises in South Auckland. Her trial work is varied in nature and includes single/ multiple defendant homicides, multi-accused Police operations (be it serious drugs, aggravated robberies, or serious violence), sexual offending, assaults of varying degrees, fraud matters and cases that are governed by the Criminal Procedure Mental Impaired Persons Act. Ish is a Legal Aid PAL 4 provider and is on the Duty Lawyer, PDLA and Amicus Panel for Manukau District Court.

Iswari is on the Bar Council of the NZBA. She is also a member of  ADLS, AWLA, South Auckland Bar Association (SABA), IBA and CLA. Ish co-chairs both the NZBA Criminal Committee and its Diversity and Inclusion Committee.

Jennifer Din
Partner at Bespoke Legal

Jennifer holds a Bachelor of Law degree (LLB) and Bachelor of Science. Jennifer was admitted to the bar in 2012. Prior to joining Bespoke Legal, Jennifer worked as a police prosecutor and as in-house counsel for Government Departments.  Jennifer undertakes a wide range of legal work, covering traffic offences, limited licences, family, property, wills and estate and minor criminal matters.

Jennifer speaks both Hindi and English and is a member of the Family Law Section of the New Zealand Law Society.

Jessica Wei
Associate at Duncan Cotterill

Jessica is a corporate and commercial lawyer, specialising in mergers and acquisitions, capital raising and joint ventures.

She regularly advises on cross-border transactions and investments and Jessica works with a range of domestic and international clients, including multinational corporations, listed companies, SMEs and start-ups.

In addition, Jessica has experience advising on a wide variety of corporate advisory and commercial contracting matters. She enjoys helping clients grow and achieve their strategic goals.

Khushbu Sundarji
Partner at Stewart Germann Law Office

Khushbu is admitted as a Barrister and Solicitor in Auckland in 2010 and was admitted as a Barrister and Solicitor in Melbourne in 2011.

She is experienced in the sale and purchase of property, sale and purchase of businesses and also has expertise in franchising and licensing and drafting commercial contracts. Khushbu worked in Melbourne prior to joining SGL in 2017.

Maricel Weischede
Director of Lawspace Limited / Associate at Alex Lee Lawyers

Maricel had been practicing in the area of immigration law for the past 20 years, initially as a licensed immigration adviser, and later as a Solicitor after being admitted to the bar. She had been a staunch supporter of the protection of migrants from rouge unlicensed people giving immigration advice.

She has successfully advocated for hundreds of complex cases involving deportation appeal, residence appeals, character waivers, medical waivers, special request to the Minister/Associate Minister of Immigration. The dedication to helping people blossomed into working with both private individual clients and businesses in relation to other areas of the law such as family, property, conveyancing and small business requirements.

She launched Lawspace – a firm that specialises in assisting new kiwis legal requirements. She understands the need of migrants for clarity, representation and utmost assistance.

Michael Ip
Criminal Defence Lawyer at Public Defence Service

Michael was admitted to the bar in 2014. Prior to obtaining a Bachelor of Law at the University of Auckland, he had also obtained a Master of Science in Pharmacology. He has worked as a Research Assistant conducting academic research into the decisions made by the Health Practitioners’ Disciplinary Tribunal.

Honorary Members

Michael Stephens
Managing Director at Stephens Lawyers

Michael is one of New Zealand’s leading film & entertainment lawyers. Over his 30-plus year legal career, he has advised clients on matters relating to film and entertainment law, property, general commercial matters for local to international entities, securities law, and advisory and overseas investment.

He has close ties to Wellington’s film and creative industries and has a strong interest in fostering business between New Zealand, Asia and the US. He is a former Chair of the Korea New Zealand Business Council, member of the NZ Film and Literature Board of Review, and International Delegate for the Shanghai International Film Festival.