Dame Julie Maxton DBE began her academic career at the University of Canterbury. There, she taught within the university’s School of Law as a lecturer. Upon marrying, she moved to a different university, the University of Auckland. This was unusual in that it is uncommon for academics to move between New Zealand law schools.
At the University of Auckland, Dame Julie Maxton’s career was both academic and administrative. Joining the university in 1985 as a lecturer, she was promoted to senior lecturer in 1987 and later to associate professor. She spent periods as the Dean of Graduate Studies and was twice the acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor. In 1993, she was appointed a Professor of Law. She was Dean of the Faculty of Law between 2000 and 2005.
During her academic career, Dame Julie Maxton was also a practising barrister. She concentrated on appellate cases. On 18 October 2012, she was made a Master of the Bench of Middle Temple.
From 2006 to 2011, Dame Julie Maxton held the position of Registrar of the University of Oxford. In that role, she was head of the University of Oxford’s administration. She was the first woman to hold the office in the 550 years since the position was first established. During the appointment, she was also a Fellow of University College, Oxford. She was succeeded by Ewan McKendrick in January 2011.
In 2011, Dame Julie Maxton was appointed Executive Director of the Royal Society. The Royal Society is possibly the oldest learned society still in existence and serves as the United Kingdom’s academy of sciences. She is the first woman to be appointed to the position in its 350-year history.
In 2023, Dame Julie Maxton became a Dame for Services to Science and Law.