At Chen Palmer, we are proud of the outcomes we deliver for our clients – and we are proud about what our clients say about us.

Law Awards 

Chen Palmer has been recognised as New Zealand’s best specialist public law firm in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2013. The New Zealand Law Awards are decided based on the intensity of client experience. We are proud to share with you some of the client comments that have won us these awards, provided on a confidential basis:

A 5-star team - they helped us achieve our goals and strategies, and became an extension of our team.

Chen Palmer are experts at working at the interface of public law and public policy and understand our business drivers. It is this unique combination of skills and knowledge, [and the] ability to manage very tight deadlines and produce very high quality public law advice that makes them my first choice as public law practitioners.

I respect their staff from Associate to Partner and without question recommend them to others seeking first class, accurate, timely and professional public law advice.

We don't use lawyers much, but Chen Palmer are exceptional in understanding our challenge and then not giving us lots of waffle, just going to bat for us.

They act quickly, and are very creative in getting the result.

I have found most lawyers want to show how good their legal knowledge is, and write it up in 10 page reports, but the client wants result, and Mai Chen delivers.

Best in the business.

Chen & Palmer have a long history with [our organisation] and know our business very well, having won on our behalf [several times in court] involving high level [issues] of major significance to the Government of the day... More recently C&P have provided us with comprehensive and strategic legal advice involving [Ministerial actions affecting our interests]...As CEO what I also appreciate greatly is Chen & Palmer being comfortable with my presence when they are debating the issue, the matters of law, and the strategic significance and possible consequences in relation to the issue for which they have been engaged to advise and act. Allowing me to observe and hear any contest of opinion around all points of view of the involved partners, rather than this happening in my absence with the outcome simply being transmitted to me later, is unique in my experience and greatly appreciated. To see for one self and participate in the production of the product you are purchasing is very reassuring for the client!

Chen Palmer are exceptional in their field. Obviously you do pay for what you get but we are very happy with our engagement and the value that we receive.

Chen Palmer has provided effective, timely legal advice. The firm has an exceptional understanding of [our sector] and the advice has been pragmatic and useful... Advice was responsive to our needs and reflected current developments in policy and other matters including impacts of the Budget 2009 and government policy on [our sector]. The firm has been responsive and proactive to our needs and advice was also cost effective.

Chen Palmer have been pro?active and reactive in their dealings with our organisation and this has resulted in us receiving some very timely advice and also seeking advice when required. All advice has been of the highest standard and has resulted in some very big gains for us.

I have used Mai Chen on two occasions in [two different sectors]. I got absolutely the outcome required on both occasions with a very good result all round. Mai was tireless in her efforts to get the best possible outcome for our industry and the result has been [several very positive reviews]. I couldn't have asked for a better result.

I believe Chen Palmer has been exceptional in helping me. I have a claim which is still ongoing so cannot comment on the outcome. Negotiations so far are, I believe, excellent... In communicating, they have been exceptional in their immediate response to any queries. There is always someone available to speak to, have a meeting with or answer an email. I have never had the impression they are too busy, cannot deal with me, or my business is too small. The office is customer driven. They manage to be personal while remaining professional ? there is no waste of time, and before making a move they give me a clear and precise outline of the action they are taking. They give a clear explanation of costs and [a regular] reporting of ongoing costs has been extremely helpful, and I have never encountered it in business before. I would love to say our optimal outcome was successful, but I will have to wait before I can say that. I cannot fault Chen Palmer's performance in dealing with me, and this is why I am happy to nominate the firm for this award.

Mai & her team's expertise, research, knowledge & service provided to us have been exceptional. We ... can't thank them enough for everything that they are doing for us.

Service from Chen Palmer has been exceptional in all ways and has also been personal and to the point. Every bit of advice has been really valued.

The staff at Chen Palmer work exceptionally hard for their clients. They offer you guidance but regardless of the direction you choose they commit themselves 100% to your goals.

This firm has been extremely diligent when preparing advice and acting for our organisation. It is because of the advice received that the outcomes to our organisation have been outstanding.

All advice we receive from Chen Palmer is exceptional and their proactive style with us is exactly what is wanted and required. In addition they also freely offer advice which is timely and shows a real in?depth knowledge of the organisation and its area of work. I cannot speak too highly of the service and also the personal service of Mai Chen.

Available, incisive, and 100% supportive of our cause.

Chen & Palmer has provided [our organisation] with solid and comprehensive public law advice since the firm's inception. The senior partners know our business very well, having successfully argued early on following their establishment a very significant case through the [courts] which involved a massive amount of historical public law research dating back well over a century. That, and subsequent, case preparation has always been a collaborative effort with the client, and we have also been a party to the various contests of technical opinion between the senior partners, as the technical content and structure of the case was explored and developed. Being able to witness and contribute in an inclusive and respected manner to this developmental process is greatly appreciated and provides considerable comfort to [me and the Board]. Perhaps it has been the particular issues we have put before them but I have always felt Chen & Palmer have a personal passion for the nature of our unique organisation, the work we do and the issues on which we seek their assistance. I have dealt with a number of law firms over many years and have no hesitation in saying I have found Chen & Palmer to be most inclusive in their style of client relationship management.

Chen Palmer are exceptional in their field. Obviously you do pay for what you get but we are very happy with our engagement and the value that we receive.

Chen Palmer has an exceptional understanding and experience of [our sector and industry]. Advice sought was always timely and relevant as well as proactive. Policy advice has been strategic and of benefit in terms of [our] interaction with Government and government agencies.

Chen Palmer has treated [our organisation] extremely well ... and all advice has been well timed and useful.

I never had a doubt that Chen Palmer would achieve our desired outcome.

Mai defined the issues for me and the implications... I am not a lawyer [and] her definitions and findings [helped identify key issues that] were holding us up and nearly cost [New Zealand] a viable and sustainable industry. I will always be grateful for Mai's help as... [we were] dealing with an intractable culture...and [bullying tactics by industry leaders].I am glad to vote in this award on behalf of Mai who I have never met in person but who treated me with absolute respect on both occasions I have hired her firm.

Mai & her team have provided us with exceptional knowledge, expertise and research. It is only with Chen Palmer representing us that other parties have taken note of our position, and are working towards a resolution. We can't thank Mai and her team enough for everything that they are doing for us.

[We] are delighted to endorse ... Chen Palmer for the award as being once again the premier specialist public law firm in New Zealand. As directors [we] are familiar with providers of legal advice in a diversity of areas, personal and professional. It is our consistent experience that Chen Palmer delivers an outstanding service. Its people are proactive in offering their assistance. Staff return calls. They draw on their previous experience of the issues with us. They make a strong point of sending advice in the shortest time possible ? sometimes hours ? which can be vital in dealing successfully with the ... issues we are currently embroiled in. Chen Palmer are also extremely adept in providing additional service of contacts, advice, intelligence and non?legal information. Its legal advice is thus backed with assistance in making sure that Chen Palmer's help is not confined to the legal confines of interpretation, drafting and litigation, important as those lawyer aspects are, but rather to provide something extra to add value to those legal aspects. We appreciate also the attention that Mai Chen personally gives to our needs and the sometimes tangential solutions she is able to suggest to what otherwise can appear to be intractable situations for us. We are not a big company. We don't like surprise bills. As much as we hate paying for legal work, we appreciate that Chen Palmer are going to great efforts to ensure that their work for us is carefully scoped and costs are well signalled beforehand. If there is anyone out there who can match or exceed the service Mai and her team provide, we would like their phone number.

Over the years I have used public law advice from many practitioners. Chen and Palmers' depth of knowledge of public law and their ability to integrate their advice into the political reality of the legislative process in my view makes them an outstanding law firm.

The staff at Chen Palmer work exceptionally hard for their clients. They offer guidance but regardless of your choice of direction they commit themselves 100% to your goals.

Client Comments 

Our clients also share with us their comments on our work:

Public Law and Commercial Activities 

We engaged the services of Chen Palmer New Zealand Public Law Specialists to provide us with an expert public law opinion on a complex conflict of interest dispute which we were not making any progress on over a considerable period of time. The dispute had implications for our business which is horticultural and impacted many other growers from around New Zealand. Mai Chen and her associate James Dunne helped us through a process with the utmost care and consideration by quickly providing us with high quality administrative law advice. The media were also involved and she steered us through what was beginning to be a very intimidating experience. We are very pleased with the result and believe a kind and compassionate outcome would not have been achieved without her expert public law advice.

Phyllis and Mark Heard, Awatere River Olives

I recently engaged the legal services of Chen Palmer in order to seek an apology from the former Prime Minister of New Zealand, the Rt Hon Helen Clark. I realized at the outset that this would be difficult to achieve. This was achieved in a timely fashion largely due to the advice I received from Chen Palmer.

After our initial meeting Chen Palmer devised a strategy that was realistic given my goal and consisted of a series of initiatives always with alternatives in mind if at first we did not succeed. Their ability to constantly think 'over the horizon' and correctly anticipate the likely responses from Helen Clark was impressive. Their advice was always accurate and considered.

The team at Chen Palmer possesses significant depth and they were able to call on other experts and advisers from time to time if the need arose. They demonstrated at all times a deep understanding and knowledge of public law and how public law and government function in New Zealand.

I would have no hesitation in recommending Chen Palmer.

Anthony R. Bierre BSc, MBChB, FRCPA, FIAC, MBA, NZSSM (Erebus)

Recently our industry, represented by The Scrap Metal Recycling Association of New Zealand was faced with a number of major issues arising from a piece of impending legislation. This legislation had the potential to impact dramatically upon our nationwide industry, and as such this Association was forced to begin the arduous process of getting our government to listen to and more importantly address our concerns.

Our initial attempts at this were highly unsuccessful and we were met with many closed doors. It quickly became apparent that we needed the assistance of a public law specialist, and for us this was found in Chen Palmer.

After we enlisted their services the team at Chen Palmer quickly established a clear procedure for us to implement and follow that was essential in achieving our goals. Their contacts within the parliamentary system and their expertise in understanding how Government works and of the legal issues opened the necessary doors on our behalf, and managed to achieve rapid progress in a short time frame.

We were impressed with how the team at Chen Palmer quickly gained the necessary understanding of our previously foreign industry, how we operate and the difficulties that needed to be addressed for our industry’s benefit. Where we had floundered, Chen Palmer identified and highlighted our main concerns in a manner that was clear and concise and then provided us with the direction we needed. Their advice during our campaign was fundamental to our success, and we have no doubt that had it not been for their services we would not have achieved the outcome we needed within the time frame we had.

The final result for our Association and our industry is very satisfying, and we are immensely thankful and appreciative of Chen Palmer’s assistance. Whilst we hope that our industry’s future will not hold too many more of these ‘legislative battles’, we anticipate that our relationship with Chen Palmer will continue over the upcoming years.

Trevor Munro, President, Executive Director, Scrap Metal Recycling Association of New Zealand (2008)

The Real Estate Institute of New Zealand Inc ("the Institute") engaged Chen Palmer as the leading Public Law Specialists in early January 2007. Engaging Chen Palmer and in particular Mai Chen has been one of the best decisions the Institute has ever made. Mai Chen and her team at Chen Palmer offer a total package of services, which differentiates them from any other firm. The total package includes the legal advice as one would expect; but also giving the client a complete understanding on how the political and government processes work, training and advice so that the client gains confidence to present their own message, their own story; working with the politicians, government officials of all levels and media. All of this is thorooughly researched and planned in advance, and if circumstances change a reassessment of the strategy is completed and adjustments made, all in consultation and agreement with the client. Chen Palmer deliver their services in a most professional manner, always meeting (if not exceeding) the client's requirements of time frames, tasks, advice and presence. Every week the Institute has received a report of every task completed, by whom of Chen Palmer and the costs incurred associated with the tasks that are included. There are no surprises. Further, Mai Chen never takes the client for granted. At the same time as being candour whenever necessary, she provides clarity of direction; gives frequent, specific and immediate feedback; is decisive and timely; always accessible. Qualities most appreciated. The writer invites any readers of this reference to contact them to discuss it further.

Murray Cleland and Christine Le Cren, Real Estate Institute of New Zealand Inc (2007)

Our company recently found itself involved in a dispute with a Trading Enterprise owned by the Christchurch City Council. Our usual legal firm advised us that we had no legal recourse so we should just “grin and bear it”. Not content with this, we sought a second opinion from Chen and Palmer – what a difference in attitude and response!

Right from first contact we were impressed with the highly professional team-based approach and the quick grasp of the issues involved. Chen and Palmer had very soon identified a number of legal angles and provided comprehensive advice as to the approach we should take. They were also very helpful in putting our case in front of the right people.

The result – a quick win for the good guys. Thanks Mai, Nick, Craig and Catherine.

Phil Lennon, Managing Director, Apex Rental Cars Limited (2007)

The advice and guidance provided, by Mai Chen especially, was invaluable. Mai is always able to provide a unique insight and a very strong strategic perspective on government relations.

The energy sector is particularly complex. However, in my experience, Chen Palmer & Partners demonstrated a comprehensive understanding of the key issues in any situation they were dealing with.

Focusing on client needs is a hallmark of Chen Palmer & Partners. Having the ability to quickly gain access to the partners and, where necessary, secure urgent advice can frequently make a significant difference in terms of outcomes. I have no hesitation in endorsing Chen Palmer & Partners legal services.

Joan Withers, Chief Executive Officer, Fairfax New Zealand on Chen Palmer’s advice to Meridian Energy Limited in her previous role as a Director of Meridian Energy Limited

Over recent years, CSL (New Zealand) Limited has worked closely on a number of projects with Chen Palmer & Partners. On each and every occasion we have found that the value added by Mai Chen herself, and by the extremely competent team of people who work with her at Chen Palmer & Partners, has resulted in excellent outcomes.

Whilst there are many law firms in New Zealand who are very good at dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s on agreements, there are very few that can add the level of strategic thought and input that comes as matter of course for Mai and her team. It is always a pleasure to work with Mai and her team. Whilst being challenged and tested as far as our thought processes and strategies involved in any agreements are concerned, this has always been done in the most pleasant and amicable manner. I would have no hesitation in recommending Chen Palmer & Partners to any organisation that really wants to get the best outcomes possible.

Dave Bowler, General Manager, CSL (New Zealand) Limited

Recently my business had a sudden and unexpected problem with a government department that would probably have forced us to close. We engaged Chen & Palmer to represent us and they were able to resolve the issue in our favour very quickly without even needing to go to Court. This is despite the fact that many other similar firms in the same position as us have subsequently been severely cut back or will have to close.

I rate Chen & Palmer’s services as 10 out of 10 for speed, and cost relative to time and outcome. I also rate them as 10 out of 10 for their ability to understand and analyse a highly specialised and complex issue in a very short time. We are in Auckland and they are in Wellington. This distance, however, made no difference to their ability to comprehend the problem from Wellington and for Mai Chen, Lecretia Seales and Charlotte Griffin to appear in Auckland on our behalf.

If I needed to I would not hesitate to use them again and I strongly recommend them to any person or company adversely affected by a Government Department.

Mark Brickell, Vineyard Training

Public and Private Health and Education Provision 

This year, Chen Palmer assisted Waiariki Institute of Technology with the successful re-approval and accreditation of our Diploma of Teaching – Early Childhood Education – He Tohu Matauranga Mo Te Whakaako Kohungahunga.

The team from Chen Palmer, lead by the very professional, knowledgeable and effective Mai, helped to ensure that Waiariki was able to continue to educate its Early Childhood students in Rotorua, Taupo and Gisborne.

The issue was a very complicated and political situation to manage and Waiariki was extremely impressed with the support it received from Mai. We have no doubt that such a positive outcome for Waiariki would not have been possible without her input.

I would be happy to work with Chen Palmer in the future and thoroughly endorse Mai’s approach and her legal expertise.

John Snook, Deputy Chief Executive, Waiariki Institute of Technology (2008)

The International College of Auckland has sought specialist public law advice from Chen Palmer on several occasions now. Most recently, we had a very difficult issue which Chen Palmer resolved for us very well. They not only worked with us to resolve the issues, but they also trained my staff and ensured that structurally we had the capability on board at the PTE to ensure the issues did not arise again. Chen Palmer provides excellent, timely service and are always upfront about the costs of their service. In the long run, I know this will ensure these issues don’t arise again, and we will be more successful as an organisation than we have been in the past. I would not hesitate to recommend Chen Palmer to anyone else seeking the bet public law advice you can get in New Zealand. They really do care about working with the organisation to get the best possible outcome.

From August 2007, the International College of Auckland (ICA) enlisted the services of Chen Palmer to advise us on a complicated policy related issue.

The legal service offered by this law firm was an impressive mix of professionalism, advanced understanding of government policy, access to high level information and contacts, and a genuine concern for our organisation and the welfare of those who worked within it.

Mai Chen and her team worked tirelessly on behalf of our organisation to provide a high quality service that was supportive and at the same time professional. Our organisation is now committed to using Chen Palmer legal services as a form of insurance for the college thereby reducing organisational risk.

James Zhu, Principal, International College of Auckland

Chen Palmer were engaged to provide advice on for us on a public policy matter that involved our company's reputation. They were very quickly able to grasp the consequences of the situation and stepped in swiftly and decisively to safeguard our interests. We were very pleased with the outcome.

Working with Bob Sheppard from Chen Palmer was excellent. His knowledge of the education sector was invaluable. He was able to absorb complex information and identify the issues quickly. A responsive and professional service was provided.

Janelle Grady and David Murray, Educating NZ

The New Zealand Association of Private Education Providers (NZAPEP) is the pre-eminent organisation for private tertiary providers in New Zealand.

NZAPEP had been seeking advice and support form Chen Palmer & Partners, in particular from Mai Chen, since 2001. A range or services has been offered to the Association including negotiations with the Minister and government officials, advice on policy direction, organisation and chairing political debates, general advice on government policy, meetings with Government and Opposition MPs and workshops on government process.

Chen Palmer and Partners has provided the Association with a critical sounding board when it has found itself working in a difficult and even hostile environment. Suggestions offered have achieved the best possible results under the circumstances. Examples of this include the successful negotiation of a protocol with the Associate Minister of Education (Tertiary Education) and the formation of the NZAPEP Quality Commission.

The NZAPEP greatly appreciates Mai's astute understanding of the problems affecting the private tertiary sector and her genuine interest in the outcomes for private providers. The service provided by the company has always resulted in value for money and Mai's personal interest in the problems facing the sector has made her an invaluable ally.

Sandra McKersey, Immediate Vice President, New Zealand Association of Private Education Providers

BEST Training has delivered education services to predominantly Maori and Pacifika students for over 16 years. Since 2002, Government policy has been unwelcoming to private provision in the Tertiary Education sector.As a consequence, we have called on the services of Chen Palmer & Partners at several stages over this period, to secure our position in the sector. This they have done. Chen Palmer & Partners brought to our circumstances not only the strength of a clearly articulated legal position but also a clear and effective understanding of the processes and issues that are particular to our sector. No time was needed for prolonged briefing. In working with Chen Palmer & Partners we are assured of a well selected team, a rapid understanding of the issues we need to address, a fast tracked course of communication and action, and the best possible outcome. Additionally, our experience has been that no matter how constrained the timeframes, Mai Chen has been able to come to the table herself on our behalf at critical points of negotiation to secure a satisfactory settlement. We deeply appreciate not only Mai’s astute and precise effectiveness, but also her genuine interest in and concern for marginalized groups.

Anita Finnigan, Director, Best Training

Treaty of Waitangi and Maori Issues 

Chen Palmer & Partners have been providing a wide range of legal advice to the Te Uri o Hau Settlement Trust since 2003. Mai and her team have advised the Te Uri o Hau Settlement Trust strategically and effectively on a range of complex internal and external legal issues.

Mai in particular has been instrumental in assisting with strategic planning for the Trust and its subsidiaries which has been very valuable for the development of the hapu. We look forward to working with Chen Palmer & Partners in the future to build on the strong foundation they have helped to establish at the Te Uri o Hau Settlement Trust.

Esther Gray, Chief Executive Officer, Te Uri o Hau Settlement Trust

Sincere thanks to Chen Palmer & Partners for all the support, guidance, expertise and time that you have given us to enable us to become so successful. Also your leadership and Mai Chen’s “A” team. We are deeply grateful for all you have done and we thank you for all your services.

Ted Hetaraka, Trustee, Te Uri o Hau Settlement Trust

Public Sector and Local Government 

Thank you and your team for a most professional and supportive effort in coordinating and presenting our case. I have been most impressed with your team's dedication and your own personal leadership in terms of attention to detail and risk assessment on our behalf. Your willingness to advocate on our behalf was at quite short notice with much of the preparatory work completed in weekends and after hours and with very quick turnaround of drafts. I felt the Council's interests were very well protected under your counsel and have personally valued your advice at each step of the way.

Clare Crickett, Deputy Chief Executive, Environment Waikato

When I was recently asked by the Secretariat of the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) to recommend a legal firm to undertake some work related to a Memorandum of Understanding for the protection of marine mammals in the South Pacific, I had no hesitation in recommending Chen Palmer. The legal advice that was tendered was comprehensive, very readable, and extremely valuable in identifying possible difficulties and providing clear guidance on the best way to proceed effectively. I know that the CMS Secretariat was very grateful for the guidance provided by the document, and it greatly facilitated the discussions held in July between 12 Pacific island nations and territories on the development of the MoU.

Mike Donoghue, Senior International Relations Manager, International Relations Unit, Department of Conservation

Back to top