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An ‘outstanding jurist’ and ‘exceptional leader’: Profession reacts to looming Kiefel retirement

The legal profession is paying tribute to Chief Justice Susan Kiefel following the announcement of her early retirement.

user iconLauren Croft 19 June 2023 The Bar
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Last week, Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia Susan Kiefel AC revealed that she would retire from the bench later this year, slightly earlier than the mandated 70 years old.

The first woman to hold the Chief Justice role, Kiefel CJ, turns 70 early next year, but she informed the court on Thursday (15 June) that she would be stepping down on 5 November.

Kiefel CJ was announced as a High Court’s Chief Justice back in late 2016 by then-prime minister Malcolm Turnbull. At the time, Lawyers Weekly detailed her journey from legal secretary to Chief Justice.


Following this news, Law Council president Luke Murphy said that the Chief Justice is “a highly respected and outstanding jurist and has been an exceptional leader of the nation’s highest court”.

“Throughout her career, from leaving school at 15 through to her term as the 13th Chief Justice of the High Court, Chief Justice Kiefel has demonstrated her skill and commitment and has been an inspiration to all in the legal profession,” he said.

“As the first female Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia, as well as presiding over the court’s first female majority bench, Chief Justice Kiefel has shown exemplary leadership, including by commissioning an independent investigation into sexual harassment complaints made against a judge of the court.

“I particularly commend Chief Justice Kiefel for her unwavering support of the legal profession. Despite her heavy workload, she has always given up her time to share her expertise and experience. I know I speak on behalf of the entire legal profession when I congratulate Chief Justice Kiefel on her wonderful career and wish her all the best in retirement.”

President of the Law Society of South Australia James Marsh also congratulated Chief Justice Kiefel for her "outstanding legal career".

"Chief Justice Kiefel has displayed an intellect, work ethic and commitment to the rule of law that befits her role as the nation’s top judicial officer.

"Chief Justice Kiefel has also been extremely generous in showing her support for the legal profession. We will always be grateful for her accepting then President Amy Nikolovski’s invitation to be guest speaker at our Legal Profession Dinner, where she delivered a highly entertaining speech about her career in the law and her experiences as a woman in the legal profession," he said.

"As Australia’s first female High Court Chief Justice, Chief Justice Kiefel has cemented her place as a trailblazer. Her Honour has always led by example and is an inspiration not just to women in the law, but to anyone who aspires to have a career that makes a positive impact on the community."