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 the President of New Zealand Asian Lawyers and is Senior Partner of Chen Palmer, with over 30 years of experience in Public and Administrative Law. She also Chairs the Superdiversity Institute of Law, Policy and Business and is Chair of NZ Asian Leaders.

Mai has served as an independent non-executive Director on the Bank of New Zealand Board and the Trade for All Advisory Board appointed by the Minister for Trade in 2019- 2020. She was a director on the Advisory Board of AMP Life Limited, and a member of the New Zealand Securities Commission for two terms. She served on the Asia New Zealand Foundation, the New Zealand Advisory Board to the Beachheads programme for New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, was a Trustee on the Royal New Zealand Ballet Board, and served on the Academic Board of Victoria University of Wellington and was the Ministerial appointee to the Wellington Polytechnic Council.

Mai was also an inaugural Chair of New Zealand Global Women and is the inaugural Chair of SUPERdiverse WOMEN. Mai was placed on the Global Diversity List Top 50 Diversity Figures in Public Life, in the Global Diversity List 2016 (affiliated with the Global Diversity Awards, supported by The Economist). She was twice a finalist in New Zealander of the Year.

Mai co-founded Chen Palmer, one of NZ’s first boutique law firms and Australasia’s first “Washington-style” law firm specialising in legislation and public policy. She is a thought leader, a direction setter and a futures thinker. Mai is one of NZ’s top constitutional and administrative law experts, specialising in central and local Government policy and legislation, especially as it applies to business, and litigating major public law cases.  Mai is also a judicial review specialist.

Mai has appeared before the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal, the High Court and District Court, in the Waitangi Tribunal, the Human Rights Tribunal, the Alcohol Regulatory and Licensing Authority, the Employment Relations Authority, the Disciplinary Tribunal of the New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants and the Immigration and Protection Tribunal. She has authored many books, reports, and papers and appears regularly in the media as a commentator on legal, regulatory and diversity issues.


Leo Huang
Vice-President of NZ Asian Lawyers

Leo graduated with his LLB (Hons)/BSc conjoint at the University of Auckland in September 2013 and was admitted to the Bar in April 2014. He has since practiced civil/commercial litigation and disputes resolution. Leo spent his first year at a general practice firm and the remainder of his time with an established firm on the North Shore.  Leo joined Chen Palmer in October 2021.

Leo is fluent in Mandarin and over the years has assisted Chinese clients who make up an important component to his practice.

Outside of his professional commitments, Leo is an avid road cyclist.


NZ Asian Lawyers consists of over 80 members from a wide variety of professional backgrounds working as lawyers, in-house counsel and within academia. If you would like to also become a member, please send an email to Leo Huang

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