Rosalie Silberman Abella attended the University of Toronto, where she earned a B.A. in 1967 and an LL.B. in 1970. She was called to the Ontario Bar in 1972 and practiced civil and criminal litigation until 1976 when she was appointed to the Ontario Family Court. She was appointed to the Ontario Court of Appeal in 1992 and was appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada in 2004 where she is a current Judge. She is the first Jewish woman appointed to the Supreme Court.
Abella is the recipient of a number of prestigious awards, including the Distinguished Alumnus Award of the University of Toronto Faculty of Law, the Distinguished Service Award of the Canadian Bar Association (Ontario), the International Justice Prize of the Peter Gruber, the Bora Laskin Award for Distinguished Service in Labour Law. She holds 32 honorary degrees.
She is a specially elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, as well as a graduate of the Royal Conservatory of Music in classical piano. She was a judge of the Giller Literary Prize, has written over 90 articles and written or co-edited four books on a wide variety of legal topics, and chairs the Rhodes Selection Committee for Ontario.
Abella is married to Canadian historian Irving Abella and they have two sons, both lawyers.