“Your Honour’s professional achievements are dazzling, your rise in the profession meteoric,” Katzmann said at the time.
She described Jagot’s “rapid progress through the ranks of the profession” as “a tribute to the quality of the public education system in this country, the ambition of your migrant parents for a better life for their children, your formidable intellect and, perhaps above all, your capacity for hard work”.
The High Court was established in 1901, although the first bench was not appointed until 1903. The first sitting of the court took place in Melbourne on October 6, 1903.
Of the seven judges on the High Court, which has been headed by Chief Justice Susan Kiefel since January 2017, three are women and Jagot will become the fourth next month. Kiefel is the nation’s first female High Court chief justice.
Jagot has presided over a wide variety of matters in the Federal Court, including defamation cases, appeals in migration matters, intellectual property disputes and native title cases.
Professor George Williams, a constitutional law expert and deputy vice-chancellor at the University of NSW, said Jagot was an “impeccable appointment who will be welcomed by the profession”.
“She has the skills and background to make an excellent High Court judge,” Williams said.
“The fact that we will have a female majority of the High Court is of course historic and very significant. This reflects the fact that the majority of law graduates are now female. On the other hand, women are not fairly represented in some other parts of the profession, such as in the barristers that appear before the court, especially in speaking roles.
“It says much that of the first 44 people appointed to the High Court, only one was female. In 2005, there were no women at all on the High Court. Since then, half of the 12 appointments have been female. This is a rapid turnaround for a slow-moving institution like the High Court.”
Arthur Moses, SC, former president of the Law Council of Australia and NSW Bar Association, said Jagot was a “first class jurist with a huge work ethic” and an “outstanding” appointment to the High Court.
“I am pleased that at this time in history, the High Court has a majority of judges that are women,” Moses said.
He said it reflected the reality that women outnumbered men in the ranks of law graduates but also sent “a message to some of the dinosaurs that are still left in our profession – of which thankfully there are only a few – that this is the new norm”.
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