Australian Women's Register

An initiative of The National Foundation for Australian Women (NFAW) in conjunction with The University of Melbourne

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  • Australian Women Lawyers as Active Citizens

Kinsella, Marie Patricia Germaine (1920 - 2010)

18 August 1920
Waverley, New South Wales, Australia
6 May 2010
Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia
Barrister, Judge's associate, Lawyer and Public servant
Alternative Names
  • Sexton, Marie (married name)


Marie Sexton (nee Kinsella) co-drafted the constitution of the Women Lawyers' Association of New South Wales and was the organisation's first honorary secretary. The eldest of five children of Edward Parnell (Ted) Kinsella and his Belgian wife, Marie Louise Josephine Graff, the then Kinsella matriculated from Fort Street Girls' High School and went on to earn three qualifications from the University of Sydney: a Bachelor of Arts in 1943; a Diploma in Education in 1944; and a Bachelor of Laws in 1949. (It was during a year-long stint as teaching assistant at Inverell High School in northern New South Wales that Kinsella decided that teaching was not for her, had her last day on 29 January 1945 and thence turned her sights to the study of law). She began working as an associate to her father, then Mr Justice Kinsella of the Industrial Commission of New South Wales. On 18 January 1950, Mr Justice Kinsella was elevated to the Supreme Court of New South Wales; Kinsella became clerk associate to her father and clerk of arraigns. Although admitted to the New South Wales Bar on 11 February 1949, Kinsella did not practise at the Bar. She later worked in the Department of Territories, Sydney, and the Attorney-General's Department in Canberra, producing the respected Annotated Constitution. Kinsella retired in 1980.

Sources used to compile this entry: O'Brien, Joan M., 'A History of Women in the Legal Profession in New South Wales', MA thesis, Department of History, University of Sydney, 1986. Also available at; Sexton, Elisabeth, A pioneer of the legal profession, Sydney Morning Herald, 24 May 2010,; New South Wales Almanac for 1946, Sydney: Thomas Henry Tennant, Government Printer, 1946, p. 46; 1950, pp. 42, 73; 1952, p. 76; 1955, p. 87 (Sydney Law); 1970, p. 109; Law List of Australia and New Zealand 1975, Vol. 62, Sydney: Butterworth, p. 1006; The University of Sydney Calendar Supplement for the Years 1943-1944, Sydney: Alfred Henry Pettifer, Acting Government Printer, Publisher to the University, 1944, p. 366; 1954, p. 366; Martha Rutledge, 'Kinsella, Edward Parnell (Ted) (1893-1967)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 2000, accessed online 26 March 2016.

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