Former criminal lawyer and long-time champion of women in law, Chrissa Loukas-Karlsson, has been welcomed by the ACT legal profession at her swearing in ceremony this week.
Sydney barrister Chrissa Loukas-Karlsson SC was sworn in as ACT Supreme Court resident Judge on Monday, 26 March.
The silk was appointed to the bench in February, replacing the judicial position held by Justice Hilary Penfold.
“Justice Loukas-Karlsson will bring a wealth of criminal law procedural knowledge and experience representing the most marginalised and disempowered in complex matters,” ACT Attorney-General Gordon Ramsay said.
“She is well equipped for this role, with almost 30 years of experience in advocacy at the highest levels, as well as experience in legal policy areas of the NSW Attorney-General’s Department and roles as acting District Court judge and Administrative Decisions Tribunal member.”
Justice Loukas-Karlsson began her legal career with the Aboriginal Legal Service (ALS) and working for Legal Aid, followed by a long period in service as a public defender. She was called to the bar in 1989 and took silk in 2012. Before joining the bench, she held the elected position of junior vice president of the NSW Bar.
During her time studying law at the University of Sydney, Chrissa Loukas (as she was then known) won a debate against future prime minister Malcolm Turnbull at the University and Schools Club. The AG said this early test of the judge’s advocacy skills demonstrated the talents that served her well throughout her career in law.
Among Justice Loukas-Karlsson’s many accolades include recognition as Senior Barrister of the Year at the Lawyers Weekly 2013 Women in Law Awards and the Women Lawyers Association of New South Wales Barrister of the Year in 2017.
“Her appointment maintains the strong representation of women within the ACT judiciary,” Mr Ramsay said.
“I am confident she will apply her skills, along with her commitment to the law to support the court in delivering accessible, efficient and equitable justice for the Canberra community.”
According to The Canberra Times, in a speech during her swearing-in Justice Loukas-Karlsson acknowledged the “magnificent role models” of female judges who came before her, as well as the lawyers who had supported her throughout her career.
In attendance at the new judge’s swearing-in ceremony were members of the Supreme Court and the ACT legal profession.
Justice Loukas-Karlsson’s son, parents (who are first generation Greek immigrants to Australia), Swedish husband (who she first met while working for the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia), and the Greek and Swedish ambassadors to Australia also joined the audience to the ceremony.
In a public statement released this week, Mr Ramsay noted Justice Loukas-Karlsson’s reputation for resilience and integrity. He also noted her deep understanding for social justice.
“She is highly regarded as an advocate for women and a leader of the profession,” Mr Ramsay said.