The Hon Elizabeth Evatt AC

LLB 1955, LLD 1985

A retired judge of the Family Law Court and the World Bank Administrative Tribunal, The Hon Elizabeth Evatt has continued her involvement in human rights projects as a Commissioner of the International Commission of Jurists. She completed her LLB at the University of Sydney Law School in 1955.

Where has the study of law taken you in your career and/or life in general?

I practised law in Australia and in England and worked in the English Law Commission before returning to Australia in 1973 to take up a position as a Deputy President of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. I chaired a Royal Commission on Human Relationships before being appointed Chief Judge of the Family Court of Australia in 1976. Later I was President of the Australian Law Reform Commission. From 1984 to 1992, I was a member of the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, and I chaired that Committee from 1989 to 1991. From 1993 to 2000 I was a member of the UN Human Rights Committee, was a Judge of the World Bank Administrative Tribunal from 1998 to 2006, and in 2003 became a Commissioner of the International Commission of Jurists.

What is your fondest memory of your time at Sydney Law School?

The women students had their own common room in those days, and we enjoyed gathering there in the winter months and toasting cheese at the gas fire and discussing our professors and male colleagues.

What one piece of advice would you give to law students today?

Consider carefully those parts of law and justice which are immutable and fundamental, and those which are able to respond to the changing needs and values of society.