Breaking: Top Kiwi lawyer appointed adjunct professor

by Sophie Schroder24 Oct 2014
Mai Chen, the founding partner at Chen Palmer, has just been appointed an adjunct professor in the University of Auckland’s Faculty of Law from January 2015.

The New Zealand public and employment law specialist told NZ Lawyer that she’s honoured to accept the role, and thinks it will be vital in helping her remain at the top of her game.

“It’s difficult to hold that [position] as well as being at Chen Palmer full time…but you need to have the best ideas, and academia is all about ideas and fresh ideas, and reflecting on the law, coming up with new ways to solve old problems,” Chen says.

She adds that she’s really looking forward to “hanging out” with the other professors, and spending more time talking to them about what they’re doing.

The great thing about having an interface with academia is it forces you to pause and reflect on what you’re doing, says Chen.

“I’m very grateful for the appointment and I’m anxious to spend some time getting to know the faculty.”

When she spoke to NZ Lawyer yesterday, Chen had just completed the finishing touches on the second edition of her LexisNexis best-seller, Public Law Toolbox.

The book is widely touted as an invaluable resource that aids business people, lawyers, industry associations and non-governmental organisations deal with the government.

Although the lawyer never intended to write a second edition so soon, she says LexisNexis were keen to have it coincide with its 100th birthday.

But once she started, she was surprised by how much had changed in public law, and how much of the first edition needed updating.

The preface of the second edition marvels at this point and highlights how quickly public law moves on:

“I felt like Willy Loman in Arthur Miller’s play ‘Death of a Salesman’ watching ice melt on a hot summer’s day,” Chen wrote. “Every time I finished a chapter or a sub-chapter, something would change - the law, a new policy, new case law, a new inquiry, a new controversy!”

But now that the 1,000 pages are done, dusted and off to the printer, Chen is looking forward to taking a well-deserved breather over the long weekend… It will be the first time she’s taken all three days off in her entire career.
Then it will be all go again, and Chen will launch into her next life chapter: Juggling the adjunct professor role with her already-full work schedule.

She’s also already the adjunct professor in the Auckland Business School at the university, a role she’s held for the past four years.

Andrew Stockley, dean at the University of Auckland’s Faculty of Law, welcomed Chen’s latest appointment.

“Mai is one of New Zealand’s best-known lawyers with particular expertise in constitutional and administrative law, judicial review, regulatory issues, and public policy and law reform,” he says.

“She brings a wealth of connections with government, business and policy makers.”