Reverse psychology may be to thank for Verity McWilliam's elevation as the ACT's newest Supreme Court associate judge on Monday.
After she swore an oath upon a small white bible given to her as an infant by her godmother, she told a packed court room that shortly into her legal career she feared the law wasn't for her.
Her second week working at Price Waterhouse Coopers litigation had her sleep deprived and overwhelmed, and upon hearing she wanted to quit, her mother suggested a career in publishing instead.
Associate justice McWilliam ignored the advice and stayed on, and years later has returned to Canberra to join the bench of the Supreme Court, balancing the gender make-up for a 50:50 split between male and female justices.
She joked to family, friends and colleagues watching her swearing-in that her red hair made the courtroom's cedar panels the right setting.
"Although I am like the timber in this room donated from NSW, I really am glad to have come home," she said.
Much of her legal career in NSW was spent at the bar, and she has practised across civil litigation areas including administrative law, commercial, employment and environmental and planning law, as well as criminal law.
She previously worked as an associate to two Federal Court judges, a solicitor in the NSW Crown Solicitor's Office and for PwC Legal in Sydney and DLA Piper in London.
Her legal career followed a string of achievements at Canberra Girls Grammar School and ANU, where she studied arts and law.
Associate justice McWilliam, who has left a role as an adjunct lecturer in public law at the University of NSW, also once had a turn as a court usher in Toad of Toad Hall.
While foregoing a long outline of her planned approach to her new role, associate justice McWilliam described one thing she wanted to mark her tenure.
"When parties have appeared before the court, they generally feel they have been listened to and that they have been heard."
In welcoming her to the Supreme Court bench, attorney-general Gordon Ramsay said the ACT led the country in gender equality at the head of the judiciary.
She had built strong working relationships with other members of the Canberra legal community, which welcomed her appointment, he said.
ACT Law Society president Sarah Avery said associate justice McWilliam had won the role through hard work and a commitment to the law.
Mr Ramsay appointed her to the vacancy created after David Mossop was elevated to Resident Judge of the court.