Susan Kiefel becomes first woman appointed as high court chief justice

  • Susan Kiefel becomes first woman appointed as high court chief justice

Susan Kiefel becomes first woman appointed as high court chief justice

Susan Kiefel has just been named Australia's first female Chief Justice and in doing so, she'll end 113 years of men leading the nation's highest court.

Her humble beginning from legal secretary to High Court Chief Justice is well documented.

'Susan Kiefel's story is one that is an inspiration, ' Mr Turnbull said in Canberra on Tuesday.

His Honour Justice Edelman practised as a barrister at the chambers of Mr Malcolm McCusker QC in Western Australia from 2001-2011 and at One Essex Court from 2008-2011.

Justice Kiefel joined Cannan and Peterson (now Sly and Weigall Cannan and Peterson) in 1973 as a legal clerk; by day she worked for the firm, and by night she studied the law.

It's merely the evolution of her career path which started when she left school and gained momentum in 1993 when she became the first woman appointed as a judge to the Queensland Supreme Court. Justice Kiefel comes from her post as the most senior puisne judge sitting on the High Court Bench where she has served since September 2007.

"The High Court remains as relevant today to Australians as it did at Federation", she says.

Kiefel is now one of three women on the High Court bench and the longest serving judge after French.

Justice Kiefel spoke in 2013 of how the typical High Court justice used to be a male, white Protestant raised in Sydney, Melbourne or, less frequently, Brisbane, and of British ethnic origin.

She served as president of the Australian Institute of Judicial Administration 2006 to 2008.

New High Court appointee, Justice James Edelman. French had been "an exemplary leader" of the court over the past eight years.

Justice Kiefel has had a distinguished and inspiring career. In 1984 she completed a Master of Laws at the University of Cambridge.

It is not so long ago the battle still raged to get any women on the High Court bench.

The court nearly never rejects a case so quickly after a day of argument, but the next Chief Justice has already shown she's up to that task, acting in the role during the case, as the current Chief Robert French wound down his activities.

"He leaves a legacy of important contributions to the law, notably in his commitment to Indigenous justice", Mr Clark said.

The Law Council of Australia has instituted an Equitable Briefing Policy as one way of improving the retention of women barristers within the profession.

"Another Queensland woman has been appointed to high office", Ms Palaszczuk said.

"Underlying these achievements, however, has been a very clear commitment to public service, driven by a desire that the community should understand and respect the importance of the law for an ordered society".

We congratulate Justice Edelman on his appointment in what has been a remarkable career already.

Clark said Edelman's professional achievements were "remarkable" given his relative youth. "I look forward to her continuing contribution to Australian jurisprudence", Ms McLeod said.