An Australian High Court judge who is seen as a pioneer for women in the legal profession has topped the 2011 Queen's Birthday honours list.
Susan Kiefel was yesterday (13 June) named a Companion of the Order of Australia, while 375 other recipients, of which only 125 were women, also made the honours list.
A Queenslander, Justice Kiefel left school at the age of 15 to work as a law firm receptionist before going on to complete her schooling and, in 1987, becoming Queensland's first-ever female Queen's Counsel. In 1994, Kiefel was appointed as a Justice of the Federal Court and, in 2007, became only the third woman to be sworn in as a Justice of the High Court of Australia (after Mary Gaudron and Susan Crennan).
Kiefel was recognised on the honours list for her "service to the law and to the judiciary, to law reform and to legal education in the areas of ethics, justice and governance".
Kiefel is widely considered to be a conservative lawyer with similar views to Justice Dyson Heydon, who was appointed to the High Court following Justice Gaudron's retirement in 2003, when many thought Kiefel might have taken her place.
The Honourable Brian Ross Martin from South Australia was named an Officer of the Order of Australia for his "distinguished service to the judiciary and to the law, particularly as Chief Justice for the Northern Territory", as was Professor George John Williams of Sydney, for "distinguished service to the law in the fields of anti-terrorism, human rights and constitutional law as an academic, author, adviser and public commentator".