Paul Finn has degrees from the Universities of Queensland (BA, LLB), London (LLM) and Cambridge (PhD), and Honorary Degrees (LLD) from the University of Queensland and Flinders University. His awards include the Yorke Prize from Cambridge University. He is also a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia and a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Law.
Until his appointment to the Federal Court of Australia in 1995 he was, briefly, an academic at the University of Queensland (1975-1976), and thereafter at the Australian National University (ANU) where he taught in the Law Faculty before becoming a Professor and Head of the Law Department in the Research School of Social Sciences at the ANU in 1988.
He wrote two books; Fiduciary Obligations (1977) and Law and Government in Colonial Australia (1987); two monographs, Official Information (1991) and Official Misconduct (1993); and between 1985 and 1996 he edited eight volumes of essays on public and private law. He has also written many articles and book chapters on public, private and criminal law.
As a judge he was based initially in Canberra. He later moved to Adelaide. He is well known for some number of his judgments, several of which have been cited in appellate courts in England and Canada. He was appointed the Arthur Goodhart Professor of Juridical Science by the University of Cambridge for 2010-2011. He resigned from the Court in 2012 and has since then been a professorial fellow or adjunct professor at the ANU and the Universities of Melbourne and Adelaide.