Board of Directors Established for New Zealand Asian Lawyers

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New Zealand Asian Lawyers, currently established under the Superdiversity Institute for Law, Policy and Business, is pleased to announce that it is taking the next step in expanding its influence and has created its own board of directors.

New Zealand Asian Lawyers President and Chair of the Superdiversity Institute Mai Chen said that the formation of the board was a critical step in taking New Zealand Asian Lawyers to a new level of influence.

“With one in nine of the legal profession identifying themselves as Asian, the role that New Zealand Asian Lawyers has to play now is vital to ensuring that the talents and expertise of these ethnically diverse Kiwis are fully utilised for the benefit of their clients, the justice system, government, business and the not for profit sectors of New Zealand.

Culturally, Asians tend to keep a more modest profile in society and just work away, but given the significant numbers in our profession, and growing, it is important that we make our contribution visible. There are unique strengths and experiences that come from our culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds that can benefit all New Zealanders and to ensure equal access to justice for all.”

“Drawing on the exceptional talent and experience within New Zealand Asian Lawyers’ ranks, we have curated a diverse board reflective of professional experience, gender, cultural backgrounds and balance. All of our board members have had different pathways in the law and all of them have their own Kiwi and Asian stories which they draw on to help their work. It’s a Board I am proud to chair”, she said.

The New Zealand Asian Lawyers Board announced today includes:

  • Mai Chen (President) (Senior Partner, Chen Palmer) – Leading vision, direction and providing guidance to Board members: [email protected]
  • Takeshi Ito (Secretary) (Vice President Legal, Millennium & Copthorne Hotels New Zealand Limited and CDL Investments New Zealand Limited)): Leading international Asian speakers Committee: Takeshi Ito <[email protected]>;
  • Anshuman Chakraborty (Principal Counsel [Legislation] – Reserve Bank of New Zealand) – Leading membership Committee: <[email protected]>;
  • Anita Chan QC – Leading the Asian Litigators Committee: Anita Chan <[email protected]>;
  • Augustine Choi (Barrister, Bankside Chambers) – Member of Asian Litigators Committee: ‘Augustine Choi’ <[email protected]>;
  • Alison Dymond (Senior Associate, Schnauer & Co. Limited) – Young Lawyers Committee: [email protected];
  • Associate Professor Gehan Gunasekara (Department of Commercial Law at the University of Auckland Business School) – Leading Asian Academics Committee.
  • Dr Michelle Q Zang (Faculty of Law, Victoria University of Wellington) is a member of this committee.
  • Leo Huang (Senior Associate, Chen Palmer)– Member of the Events Committee: Leo Huang <[email protected]>;
  • Mei Fern Johnson (Partner, Russell McVeagh) – Leading Liaison with Law Firms Committee: <[email protected]>;
  • Karun Lakshman (Barrister, Wellington)– Leading Asian Criminal Lawyers Committee: Karun Lakshman <[email protected]>
  • Karen Ngan (Partner, Simpson Grierson) – Leading Asian Women Lawyers Committee: ‘Karen Ngan’ <[email protected]>

Biographical details for the NZAL Board Members are below. There will be a further announcement about NZ Asian Lawyer members who are members of each committee named above who will contribute to doing the mahi in the best interests of our profession and the public interest. “There is a real depth of talent, experience and enthusiasm for assisting in the work of NZ Asian Lawyers and the Board will ensure that all get a chance to serve.

Each member of the Board is responsible for the Committee they lead and should be contacted if you have a query in that area, at the email addresses above.

Mei Fern Johnson is also offering her firm as a regional hub in Wellington. A NZ Asian Lawyer event will be held there in the second half of this year. We hope to announce other regional hubs for NZ Asian Lawyers throughout New Zealand over time.

Takeshi Ito and Augustine Choi will also lead formalising a standalone structure for New Zealand Asian Lawyers.

A “meet the board” function is also being planned for late July. A save the date and venue will be sent out soon.

The Board has been appointed for one year, after which there will be a review. “Many want to serve and talent runs deep, so we will ensure that, until we can run elections, those on the Board are fully committed to the work.”

“We greatly value the support of the Chief Justice, Dame Helen Winkelmann, of the Chief District Court Judge Heemi Taumaunu and of Chief Judge Inglis and Chief Judge Isaac from the Judicial Diversity Committee (Te Awa Tuia Tangata), of New Zealand Asian Lawyers, expressed in the Zoom series recently held by this organisation in April and May 2022.”

New Zealand Asian Lawyers also acknowledged the strong support from the judiciary and New Zealand Law Society (NZLS) and its President Jacque Lethbridge and CEO Joanna Simon.

“We have really appreciated NZLS’s interest in New Zealand Asian Lawyers from the start and particularly from its current President Jacque Lethbridge and immediate past President Tiana Epati, both of whom have recognised the important role New Zealand Asian Lawyers can play in ensuring that this important group of diverse Kiwi lawyers is properly reflected throughout the ranks of the legal profession, she said. “We also look forward to working with the regional law societies in due course to broaden our outreach and to continue the dialogue we have had with several of them to further promote diversity and inclusion “, she said.

“We have also been in discussions on closer working relationship with the NZ Bar Association and look forward to making announcements in the near future.”

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