Virginia Bell served on the High Court of Australia for 12 years from February 2009. At the date of her appointment, she was a judge of the Court of Appeal of the Supreme Court of New South Wales. After graduating in law, she practised as a solicitor for seven years with the Redfern Legal Centre, the first community law centre to be established in New South Wales. She was admitted to the Bar in 1984 and was appointed Senior Counsel in 1997.

Between 1994 and 1997 she was a counsel assisting the Royal Commission into the Police Service. She was appointed to the Supreme Court of New South Wales in March 1999. She served as President of the Australasian Institute of Judicial Administration between 2006 and 2008. She was made a Companion of the Order of Australia in 2012 for eminent service to the judiciary and the law through judicial administration, and as an advocate for the economically and socially disadvantaged.

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