Australia Just Appointed The First Female Chief Justice Of The High Court

Justice James Edelman

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said on Tuesday "Susan Kiefel's story is one that is an inspiration".

Arriving in the bar in 1975, the Queenslander embarked on an impressive career which culminated with her being named the 13th chief justice in Australia.

Kiefel earned a Master of Laws at the University of Cambridge in Britain before returning to her home state where in 1993 she became the first woman judge of the Supreme Court of Queensland state. The then Attorney-General Philip Ruddock denied emphatically that anything other than "merit" had influenced Justice Kiefel's appointment.

In a statement, Justice Kiefel said the issues the High Court dealt with affected "many aspects of the life of the nation".

Her path to the position is reflective of the varied ways in which women have come to practice law in Australia, and the myriad life experiences they bring to their roles.

After much speculation, the Turnbull government appointed Justice Kiefel, the first woman to hold the office, to be chief justice.

"I will continue to serve this very important institution to the best of my ability and I would like to offer Justice Edelman my congratulations on his appointment".

"He is one of the most outstanding legal minds of his generation", Mr Turnbull said.

At age 34, Edelman was already a professor of law at Oxford.

On August 9, 1904, the Full Court of the Supreme Court of Western Australia decided the word "person" in the Legal Practitioners Act 1893 did not include a female and Edith Haynes was not allowed to become a lawyer.

"His distinguished record as a jurist, James Edelman, is widely acknowledged as well", Attorney-General George Brandis added.

She's now the most senior judge in the country and the first woman in 113 years to lead the nation's highest court.

Hon Justice Susan Kiefel AC, Australia's first female High Court chief justice. "Kiefel chose to locate herself within the "malestream" Australian legal community", Dr Roberts has written. Law Council of Australia president Stuart Clark described Justice Kiefel as a "trailblazer for women in the legal profession" and 'an inspiration to all young people considering a career in law.' Australian Women Lawyers president Ann-Maree David also praised the appointment, but warned against complacency: 'The appointment of Justice Susan Kiefel as Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia gives us confidence that times are changing. "AWL is pleased to note, that landscape now extends to the highest judicial office in the land", AWL said.

'We have an abundance of talent in Australia but there are only a limited number of options and opportunities at any time, ' he said.

"I continue to look forward to another first for the Court, namely the elevation of a South Australian judge", he said.

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