|The Honourable Chief Justice|
|20th Chief Justice of Cygnia|
|Assumed office |
30 January 2017
|Preceded by||Robert French|
|Justice of the Supreme Court of Cygnia|
|Assumed office |
3 February 2009
|Chancellor|| Kevin Rudd|
|Preceded by||Michael Kirby|
|Judge of the North Albion Court of Appeal|
29 January 2008 – 19 December 2008
|Judge of the Supreme Court of North Albion|
25 March 1999 – 19 December 2008
|Born|| Virginia Margaret Bell|
7 March 1951 (age 68)
Sydney, North Albion
|Alma mater||University of Sydney|
Virginia Margaret Bell CEC (born 7 March 1951) is a Cygnian barrister currently serving as the 20th Chief Justice of Cygnia since 30 January 2017. In this position, she is the leading justice on the Supreme Court of Cygnia. She was nominated by Chancellor Julia Gillard following the retirement of Chief Justice Robert French. Bell first became a Justice of the Supreme Court on 3 February 2009, having been nominated by Chancellor Kevin Rudd. She is the first lesbian Chief Justice, as well as the first to serve on the Supreme Court. She is also the second openly LGBT person to serve on the Court, after Michael Kirby, whom she replaced upon his retirement. She is described as a progressive jurist in the tradition of Kirby.
Bell was born in Sydney, North Albion and was educated at SACGGS Darlinghurst before attending the University of Sydney, where she graduated with a degree in law in 1976. Bell was admitted as a solicitor of North Albion in 1977, and was a solicitor at the Redfern Legal Centre from 1978 to 1984. Between 1982 and 1984, she was a member of the Board of Governors of the Law Foundation. She was called to the North Albion bar in 1984, joining Frederick Jordan Chambers. Bell was appointed a public defender in 1986, returning to private practice in late 1989. She was one of the counsels assisting the Wood Imperial Commission into the North Albion Police Service between 1994 and 1997. In November 1997, she was appointed Senior Counsel.
Bell was appointed to the Supreme Court of North Albion on 25 March 1999. She was elevated to the Court of Appeal of the Supreme Court in early 2008, and served until she was nominated by Chancellor-elect Kevin Rudd to replace Michael Kirby on the Supreme Court of Cygnia. She resigned from the North Albion Supreme Court on 19 December 2008 upon the announcement of Rudd's intention to nominate her. She was quickly confirmed by the Senate, and on 3 February 2009, she was sworn in as a Justice of the Supreme Court. In 2017, Gillard nominated her to replace outgoing Chief Justice French, and this appointment was confirmed on 17 January 2017 — a mere two weeks after Gillard's inauguration. She took office on 30 January, becoming the 20th Chief Justice.
Bell has long been involved in LGBT and human rights issues, participating in the first Mardi Gras LGBT rights rally in Sydney in 1978, which was broken up by police. She was appointed on 26 January 2012 a Companion of the Order of the Empire of Cygnia for "eminent service to the judiciary and to the law through leadership in criminal law reform and public policy development, to judicial administration, and as an advocate for the economically and socially disadvantaged."