Mai Chen ‘Sacks Herself’ to Start New Chambers, Closing ChenPalmer

Profile lawyer and Power List member Mai Chen has apparently closed her law firm, established with Sir Geoffrey Palmer QC in 1994, becoming Public Law Toolbox Chambers.

The Chen Palmer website now directs to the new ‘Toolbox Chambers’ site. There is no reference to the former firm’s disappearance as a branded boutique that was proudly set up with former PM Sir Geoffrey Palmer QC in 1994.

Chen Palmer was one of the first public law boutique practices, handling a variety of work and set up as a “Washington style” law firm handling policy and public law work.

A media statement from Mai Chen did not reference the closing of the firm, but said that the new chambers would be ‘a home for barristers who are experienced experts in using public law toolbox to solve problems for clients.”

Apart from herself, members include former Chen Palmer principal, former Ombudsman and black belt karate exponent Leo Donnelly and two employed barristers from Chen Palmer, Caleb Saunders and Antonia Di Maio.

The move was reported in the trade publication ‘Australasian Lawyer’, which reported that the chambers would focus on  “upstream” work like “policy making, and law drafting and making submissions to influence law making and the select committee process,” and those who focus on “downstream” work such as “judicial reviews and declaratory judgments when litigation has become necessary as a last resort.”

“I am looking forward to working with instructing solicitors and learning from other barristers. I am looking forward to expanding my colleague base and spending my time on solving complex public law problems, which remains my first and greatest love in the law,” Chen told the trade publication.

There is no reference made about shuttering the Chen Palmer name and firm, saying she was “sacking myself from a very successful boutique law firm” but she said she had taken a “leap of faith” once more in making the move to the Bar.

Mai Chen sacks herself - Chen Palmer disappears

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