Meet the team

Chen Palmer is a boutique public and employment firm in Auckland. The team consists of Principals, Senior Associates, Intermediate Associates and Associates. We also have law clerks and interns who support our work.

Mai Chen

Managing Partner

Mai Chen is the Managing Partner of Chen Palmer, Australasia’s first public law specialist firm, which she co-founded in 1994. She is also the Founder and Chair of the Superdiversity Institute for Law, Policy and Business, New Zealand Asian Leaders (NZAL), SUPERdiverse Women and New Zealand Asian Lawyers. Mai is currently a Director at BNZ.

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Leo Donnelly

Principal

Leo is a former Ombudsman from 2016-2018, and Deputy Ombudsman from 2004-2016. He brings his expertise and considerable experience in public and administrative law to Chen Palmer’s recognised leadership in the legal industry.

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Anthony Hill

Special Counsel

Anthony specialises in solving complex and sensitive problems in and with government.  Anthony has in-depth experience of the health and disability sectors, and the broader government sector. He joins Chen Palmer after 10 years as New Zealand’s Health and Disability Commissioner and 6 years as Deputy Director-General of Health. During that time he had oversight over the funding and performance of District Health Boards, health crown entities, and exercised an array of regulatory functions. 

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Antonia Di Maio

Principal Advisor

Formerly an Investigator and then Principal Advisor at the Office of the Ombudsmen, Antonia has over 15 years’ experience advising the New Zealand Ombudsmen on the exercise of their functions, and standards of good public administration, decision making and dispute resolution.

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Caleb Saunders

Counsel assisting The Managing Partner

Caleb is a Senior Associate at Chen Palmer advising across a range of public law issues. He previously worked as a solicitor for HM Revenue and Customs in London and for a large commercial firm in New Zealand.

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Jonathan Sathiendrakumar

Litigation Associate

Jonathan joins Chen Palmer after working as a litigation lawyer at the Government Legal Department (GLD) in the United Kingdom, where he was responsible for defending and advising the government in over 180 public law matters, primarily judicial review claims against government decisions in the Upper Tribunal, Administrative Court, and Court of Appeal.

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Lily Maclean

Associate

Prior to joining Chen Palmer, Lily worked as a Corporate Solicitor for a large commercial firm in New Zealand. She has assisted on a number of high profile mergers and acquisitions (M&A) for a diverse range of commercial clients. Lily is also experienced in debt and equity capital markets work, and has been responsible for drafting and implementing multiple employee share schemes for domestic and international clients.

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Holly Cutfield

Associate

Prior to joining Chen Palmer, Holly worked in a boutique firm specialising in public law, including Te Tiriti o Waitangi claims, Maori land claims, Civil Human Rights claims and Family Law matters. She has worked across all areas of advocacy, completing Legal Research, drafting Affidavits and Briefs of Evidence, client correspondence, drafting court documents, and attending court appearances. Holly has a strong passion for social justice issues driven by her desire to help others, and to create transformative change in society.

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Madeline Hunt

Associate

Madeline completed her LLB at Auckland University of Technology and was admitted as a barrister and solicitor of the High Court in May 2021. Whilst at Chen Palmer, she has been involved in Legal Research, drafting court documents and correspondence and assisting in case and litigation preparation with senior staff. Madeline has a deep passion for serving people, and an awareness of the unique position lawyers have to affect and change society around them.

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Emma Moss

Law clerk

Emma brings a wealth of HR Management and advocacy experience to Chen Palmer and assists our lawyers on a wide-range of legal work. Having worked as an employment advocate she has made several appearances at the Employment Relations Authority and assisted clients in settling in excess of $1m in either negotiated settlements or awarded as remedies through the ERA.

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Fiona Wu

Law clerk

Fiona is currently completing her dissertation for her conjoint degree in Law (Honours) and Arts at the University of Auckland. Prior to joining Chen Palmer she has worked in various law firms and public sector agencies. She has a deep passion for public law issues and assists with research and case preparation with senior staff.

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Renee Clark

Law clerk

Renee graduated with a Bachelor of Communications and a Bachelor of Laws with Honours at AUT and is due to be admitted as a barrister and solicitor of the High Court later this year. Renee joins us from Martelli McKegg where she was a law clerk in the property team. In 2020, Renee interned at Landmark Chambers where she worked closely with Deborah Manning and her team in Refugee and Immigration matters. 

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Nastassia Pearce-Bernie

Intern

Nastassia is currently an intern at Chen Palmer. She is completing a conjoint degree in Law (Honours) and Commerce at the University of Auckland. Nastassia assists in legal research and treaty settlement claims.

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