The Honourable Justice
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
- Barrister, Judge, Law clerk, Lawyer, Public servant and Solicitor
- Alternative Names
- Foley, Mary (birth name)
Justice Mary Finn of the Family Court of Australia is a second-generation woman lawyer (third generation lawyer). Her mother was Clare Foley, Queensland's fourth woman solicitor, who, in turn, was the daughter of an Ipswich lawyer, Edward Pender. Appointed to the bench of the Family Court in 1990, Justice Finn retired on her seventieth birthday, in July 2016.
Finn's reputation as a drafter and developer of legislation, established during her career in the Federal Attorney-General's office, was renowned. Lionel Bowen, federal Attorney-General 1984-1990, described her advice as both 'practical and accurate'; he was known to ask regularly, when confronted with legislative challenges, 'What would Mary think?'
Finn is well known for her contribution to the review of the Family Law Act 1975, completed in 1980, and for her contribution to committees established to implement the report's recommendations. Her public service experience established her credentials as an expert in family law; at the time of her appointment to the bench in 1990 she was regarded as one of Australia's leading experts on the Family Law Act.
Both of Finn's children, Wilfred and Eugenie, are fourth generation lawyers, with Eugenie enjoying a special and rare status in Australian law as a third generation woman lawyer.