Chief Justice Susan Kiefel | UniSC | University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Chief Justice Susan Kiefel

Honorary Doctorate (April 2019)

Chief Justice Susan Kiefel was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in April 2019 in recognition of her ongoing service to the community and for her dedication towards representing women in law.

Chief Justice Kiefel’s story is one of hard work, commitment and integrity. As the first female High Court of Australia Chief Justice, her achievements over the past four decades are an inspiration to women in law, and to those who enter the legal profession via non-traditional paths.

Coming from a family who had no history of academic achievement, Chief Justice Kiefel left school at the end of Year 10 to work as a legal secretary. After discovering a passion for law, she finished her secondary education while working full-time, completing with honours the examinations of the Barristers Board for admission to the bar. At just 21-years-old, she was the first person to receive honours since the 1930s. In 1987, Justice Kiefel was appointed Queensland’s first female Queen’s Counsel. In 1993, she became the first female justice appointed to the Supreme Court of Queensland, and in 2007 only the third female justice of the High Court.

Her subsequent elevation to the role of Chief Justice in January 2017 was a landmark moment for the Australian legal profession – the first time a woman had held the country’s highest judicial office since the High Court’s inception in 1903.

Chief Justice Kiefel has demonstrated a great deal of personal ambition and dedication towards the pursuit of her goals. Her success is evidence that a student’s background need not be a limiting factor, and that all students have the potential to achieve extraordinary things.

In recognition of her ongoing service to the community, her commitment to the role of the courts in Australian public life and the exemplary model her career provides for those students who come to the law via non-traditional paths, the Honourable Chief Justice Susan Kiefel is a worthy recipient of the honorary award of doctor of the University of the Sunshine Coast.