Thomas Frederick "Tom" Bathurst was born on St Patrick's Day 1948 in Richmond, Surrey, today part of Greater London. His father, Hugh Moxon Bathurst, had been private secretary to Senator James Fraser, Chifley's Health minister, when his engagement to tennis champion Joan Marcia Hartigan was announced. They married at St Mary's Cathedral, Sydney on Saturday, 12 April 1947 before flying to Perth to board the Orion for England where they planned to live for a few years while Joan resumed her tennis career at Wimbledon.
In 1950, Bathurst returned with his parents on the Strathmore after living in Surrey and settled in Sydney. He was educated at Saint Ignatius' College, Riverview and in 1969 graduated from the University of Sydney with a Bachelor of Arts. Bathurst graduated in 1972 with a Bachelor of Laws from the Sydney Law School.
Bathurst was admitted as a solicitor in New South Wales in 1972 and joined the Sydney city firm of E. J. (Ernest) Kirby & Co. where his mentor was Ann Plotke.
In 1977 he was called to the NSW Bar, being appointed Queen's Counsel in 1987. His primary areas of practice included appellate work in banking law, commercial law and equity. He was president of the Australian Bar Association from 2008 to 2009, and president of the NSW Bar Association from 2010–11.
Bathurst appeared for AWA Limited in Daniels v Anderson (1995) 37 NSWLR 438, a leading Australian case on the duties of non-executive directors. He was briefed by Dyson Heydon QC in Heydon v NRMA Ltd (2000) 51 NSWLR 1 in a successful appeal against a finding that Heydon was negligent in giving legal advice to the respondent company, an important case concerning a barrister's liability for professional advice. He appeared before the High Court of Australia in Peters (WA) Ltd v Petersville Ltd (2001) 205 CLR 126, a case which reviewed the scope of the common law doctrine of restraint of trade.
On the recommendation of the NSW government, NSW Governor Marie Bashir appointed Bathurst Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of New South Wales, and Lieutenant Governor of New South Wales, effective 1 June 2011.
Bathurst is married to Robyn; the couple have two daughters, one of whom (at the time of Bathurst's own commission as Chief Justice), Emma, was a solicitor with Mallesons Stephen Jaques on secondment to a refugee organisation.
In the 2014 Queen's Birthday Honours List, Bathurst was appointed as a Companion of the Order of Australia (AC), for "eminent service to the judiciary and to the law, to the development of the legal profession, particularly through the implementation of uniform national rules of conduct, and to the community of New South Wales".