Meet the team

Chen Palmer Partners is a boutique public and employment firm with offices in Auckland and Wellington. The partners are supported by a dozen lawyers including a Principal, Special Counsel, senior associates, other lawyers and law clerks.

Mai Chen

Managing Partner

Mai Chen is the managing partner of Chen Palmer, NZPLS, Barristers and Solicitors, Australasia’s first public law specialist firm, which she co-founded in 1994.

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Nick Russell

Partner

Nick Russell is an experienced public law litigator who has appeared as counsel in a range of key cases at the High Court, Court of Appeal, Supreme Court and Privy Council.

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Julie Hardaker

Principal

Qualifications: LLB (Hons 1st class) / MMS (Hons 1st class)

Julie was the top graduating student in her law degree at Waikato Law School and practised law for 17 years with Hamilton law firm McCaw Lewis in the dispute resolution team.

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Anthony Russell

Principal

Anthony specialises in providing expert employment law advice, and has provided quality advice across a range of sectors. Anthony has been practicing law since 1991 and has represented a wide range of employment law clients, particularly in the health, education and infrastructure industries.

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Marina Matthews

Special Counsel

Marina has significant Parliamentary experience and has been a specialist advisor to several Education Ministers. She has experience in a range of public policy processes including the preparation of Cabinet papers, briefing Ministers, and preparing for Select Committees.

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Veronica Cress

Special Counsel

Veronica is a barrister with approximately 20 years litigation experience in New Zealand and the Asia-Pacific region. Prior to joining the bar, Veronica was a Partner for 5 years at DLA Piper New Zealand. Veronica was a member of the firm’s award winning insurance litigation team for 10 years but was also worked on a wide range of general civil litigation (including, for example, participating in the first personal injury case against a tobacco company by a smoker to go to trial in New Zealand.)

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Zong-Pei Zhao

Special Counsel

Zong-Pei was a civil servant for over 10 years before joining the private sector. He has a solid understanding of the machinery of government and has experience in the areas of building and construction law, criminal law, education law, evaluation, public policy, official information, courts management and international relations.

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Carol Anderson

Senior Associate

Carol combines skills from a background in law and education. Following a successful career in secondary teaching in New Zealand and overseas, she qualified as a lawyer in 2005 and has worked in commercial and civil litigation and public law.

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Helen Pryde

Senior Associate

Helen has practised law for over ten years and, prior to joining Chen Palmer, she has worked for the Public Defence Service, the Government Legal Department (the UK equivalent of Crown Law), and in private practice at the Bar in London.

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