John Levingston was born in Canberra, and lived in Tasmania, the Northern Territory, Papua, Togo West Africa and Western Samoa. He attended Sydney Grammar School in the 1960's where he won several prizes and a scholarship. He was Captain of the Boarding School, a champion rower, Vice-Captain of Boats, and a School sub-prefect.
He attended the Australian National University and resided at Burgmann College, graduating in Arts and Law. He was first admitted to the Roll of the Supreme Court of the ACT in 1981, and later to the Rolls of the High Court, and the Supreme Courts of NSW and Victoria.
He worked for the Commonwealth Government in Canberra and Sydney lastly as the NSW Officer in Charge of Consumer Protection, Trade Practices Commission, and has been in private practice as a Solicitor or Barrister in Sydney for 34 years practising in commercial litigation, and an Arbitrator and Mediator (NMAS) on Court and industry panels. He holds appointments as a Costs Assessor and Costs Review Panellist for the NSW Supreme Court and as a Part-Time General Member of the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
He has taught international trade law at several institutions and has held academic appointments as an Adjunct Professor of Law at the Centre for Customs and Excise Studies, University of Canberra; and Conjoint Professor of Law at the University of Newcastle, NSW where he taught Maritime and International Trade Law. He was also the Convenor of public lectures on Admiralty Law from 2006 to 2013.
He has published many articles and papers in journals and spoken at international and domestic conferences.