Michael Park School has engaged Mai Chen and her team from Chen Palmer on a number of occasions. Mai has been our first choice advisor / counsel for issues involving strategy, advocating a position or dealing with difficult issues.

Mai and her team have a firm grasp of the political landscape and have been able to offer pragmatic, accurate and effective solutions to the challenges we have presented them with. The team are all highly professional and have proven invaluable in helping navigate the challenges in a frequently changing environment.

Mai has an excellent interpersonal style and is dedicated and committed to her clients, in one instance, taking a call in the middle of the night in Hong Kong in order to deal with a problem. This is all part of the commitment and service we have come to expect from Chen Palmer.

We recommend Chen Palmer to any organisation needing effective, professional and timely advice on complex issues.

Michael Hartley, Chair - Michael Park School Board of Trustees

We recently engaged the services Chen Palmer, working directly with Mai and her team. As a consequence of the experience and result I am pleased to be able to provide a brief testimonial.

Proposed regulatory changes required us to undertake a wide variety of activities including formal legally referenced submissions and presenting our case verbally interacting at various parliamentary levels as well as engaging with local communities. 

Chen Palmer’s grasp of the challenge was impressive and Mai’s forthright style ensured absolute clarity on the issues we were required to tackle and the tasks to be delivered. Beyond the regulatory and constitutional aspects of the issue at hand, Mai and her team were highly effective in the development of a communications strategy.

Chen Palmer were highly responsive to our needs. We received support from both their Auckland and Wellington offices. Chen Palmer are very results oriented!

Mike Pretty, Managing Director – Heinz Wattie’s Limited

For the last 14 years, Chen Palmer has partnered with us in a David & Goliath environment that is the interface between governments and the regulatory regime and the private sector.

Chen Palmer's ability to combine the pursuit of justice and relationship management with government has made the difference for us in a highly politicised sector that is Education.

Chen Palmer's is a 3 way partnership approach is proactive and goes beyond just client & lawyer to include the other party. They are skilled at fostering positive relationships.

Rachel Skudder, Director - BEST Pacific Institute of Education

Mai Chen at Chen Palmer has advised us on dealings with Auckland Council concerning waste bylaws, on the Waste Minimisation Act and law reform, on RMA matters and Commerce Act issues.  They are effective because they understand the legislative and regulatory context of our industry, local and central Government and the policy and law making process, have a wide range of contacts at all levels of government and business, are pragmatic and commercial, and know how to work at pace.  They are focused on the outcomes that matter to us and know how to ensure we get urgent service when that is required.  They are also good at alerting us to developments on issues that matter to us, like Health and Safety.

I would not hesitate to recommend them in their areas of expertise.

Gary Saunders, Managing Director - EnviroWaste Services Limited

I am pleased to provide a testimonial for our service providers, Chen Palmer.

We have had a working relationship since 2010 when we found our then legal services provider ineffective in progressing a number of transactions which required consent.  They were immediately effective in identifying and addressing roadblocks and have been our service provider since that time.  We have now progressed a number of similar transactions; we find that they are cost effective, quick to do the work and responsive to our needs.  The team we work with are particularly good at identifying regulatory requirements to ensure that we are proactive rather than reactive through the process.

The above represents good legal representation; what further distinguishes Chen Palmer is their business networks and access points to a potential client network.  Business is a mixture of what and who you know and on the latter point we value our participation in client functions and other associated networking opportunities that we are part of because of our association with the firm.

Andrew Watters, Director – MyFarm Investments

Chen Palmer is a niche firm which delivers quality consistently.  I have been on both sides of the table, so to speak, over the years and they are a class act.  While not an expert on such things, it does seem to me that the firm is perhaps closer to the USA model in that it seeks to lobby or influence as well as or as part of its normal operation.  For public law issues, its reputation is justifiably second to none, its credibility in Wellington is huge.

Allan Sargison, Chief Executive, Tai Poutini Polytechnic

Chen Palmer stepped up to help when the Problem Gambling Foundation of New Zealand was faced with the Ministry of Health’s decision to remove the majority of our funding and contracts.  It is not easy to take on the Crown but Chen Palmer delivered an outstanding case and result.  They marshalled over 5,000 pages of evidence to present a highly complex case in an understandable and compelling way to the High Court.  The result achieved, and the judicial precedents established for voluntary agencies contracting with the Crown, are evidence of their expertise.  They have enabled PGF to continue to enhance our services and to work towards our mission; building healthy communities together, free from gambling harm.  

Graeme Ramsey, Chief Executive - Problem Gambling Foundation of New Zealand

Chen Palmer are clear leaders in the field of public and employment law. Their legal advice is thorough, insightful and strategic.

Regardless of the complexity of the matter, Chen Palmer consider business practicalities as well as legal strategy, in providing solutions aimed directly at the issue. 

Chen Palmer lawyers have significant experience and knowledge of the law, and their professional approach has enabled me to develop a trust and confidence in them, which is most important to me as General Counsel at the Auckland University of Technology.

Dr Andrea Vujnovich, General Counsel, AUT University (Auckland University of Technology)

The Southern Institute of Technology has been very pleased with the services provided by Chen Palmer over several years. Chen Palmer personnel have outstanding levels of knowledge about complex policy and compliance matters and they are proactive about ensuring not only current issues are resolved in a positive manner but look ahead to source opportunities for their clients. Working with Chen Palmer has enhanced SIT’s key relationships with senior Government officials and improved our operational outcomes. Chen Palmer provide an extremely professional service, but with a personal approach that we really appreciate.

Penny Simmonds, Chief Executive, SIT (Southern Institute of Technology)

The New Zealand Hair and Beauty Industry Training Organisation Inc  (HITO) has had the opportunity to work with Chen Palmer.  At all times our engagement with them has been totally professional and always within a timely manner.  More importantly the team at Chen Palmer have taken the time to understand the issues facing the HITO and determined how best to work around these within the industry context.  This shows that clients of Chen Palmer are not just treated as a number but a client with specific needs. The relationships that they build provide a positive platform to continue to engage in an ongoing basis.”

Erica Cumming, Chief Executive - HITO (New Zealand Hair and Beauty Industry Training Organisation)

ITENZ is an organisation representing the majority of independent tertiary institutes in NZ. As such, we interface with many government agencies and businesses and are constantly looking at how we can do this more effectively. One of the many benefits of working with Chen Palmer and the specialists that they have within their team, is the ability to access contacts and establish relationships. To effectively represent our sector we must build solid effective relationships and many of these have been created by simply emailing Chen Palmer and asking for an introduction. It is this type of quiet service that they provide so generously. The breakfasts, business growth forums, leadership meetings that they organise are very beneficial, but more so are the little things that they do for you, such as the quiet introductions. Obviously Chen Palmer also provide legal advice and services and this is done very quickly and effectively. The team is experienced and they use empathy when engaging with a problem. The understanding and expertise that Chen Palmer has is outstanding.

Christine Clark, Chair of ITENZ (Independent Tertiary Education New Zealand), Managing Director of the Academy of Vocational Studies and Corporate Academy Group

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

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

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

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














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