When Linda Crebbin was nine years old, she saw a movie that changed her life.
The movie was 1967’s Camelot, and the script was average, but its overall message was, as Crebbin recalls it, profound.
“I believe that at the time, it sparked an interest in justice and fairness,” she said.
“I used to often think to myself, what would King Arthur - that is, what would the Hollywood scriptwriters, who created the King Arthur onscreen - do in this situation?”
By the time she was a teenager, Ms Crebbin had realised that a career in the law meant she would be paid to speak, even while putting King Arthur’s creed into practice.
After a career spanning more than three decades, she will this week be appointed as a member of the Order of Australia for significant service to the law and to the legal profession in Canberra.
Ms Crebbin retired last year after nine years as president of the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal, having steered the institution from its infancy in 2008.
She also sat on the Human Rights Commission, and was assistant chief executive at Legal Aid for five years.
She maintains while she decided early to embark on a career in law, “it wasn't always an easy journey".
“By the time I'd finished five years in practice in a large commercial firm, in Melbourne and in Brisbane, I had decided that in fact I'd made a mistake, this wasn't for me, this wasn't what I wanted,” she said.
By this stage, she had returned to Canberra and enrolled to study teaching, and had picked up a part-time job at Legal Aid in the interim.
“I came home from my first day at work saying 'this is it',” she said.
“This, for me, is what the practice of the law should be about - I feel at home and this is what I want to do.”
Her teaching degree abandoned before it had begun, Ms Crebbin devoted her career to work involving family violence and children.
“It's such a privilege to work in those areas. I've done small amounts of criminal law, but it's never quite inspired me in quite the same way,” she said.
“In particular the work that I was able to do in the family violence area, and for children and people with mental illness was the work that really made me want to keep going back every day, even though sometimes the cases themselves were very grim.”
Her appointment as the first general president of the Civil and Administrative Tribunal was a different sort of challenge, but one that put her experience in managing legal services to good use.
“I was being given a framework for a new organisation to deliver legal services to people in a different way from the way that had been done in the court, but still underpinned and bound by those principles and values that I hold dear,” she said.
It was, she said, a privilege to continue to do work that was close to her heart, right up until her retirement last year.