Justice Derrington graduated from The University of Queensland with a Bachelor of Arts in 1984 and a Bachelor of Laws (First Class Honours) in 1986. He was called to the Bar in 1986. Having graduated first in his year in Law, His Honour was awarded the Sir Robert Menzies Scholarship in Law in 1987. At that time the Menzies’ Scholarship in Law had not previously been awarded to a student from Queensland. In the period from 1987 to 1989 he read for the degree of Bachelor of Civil Laws at Worcester College, Oxford.

While at the Bar, his Honour was a co-convenor of the Commercial Law Sub-committee of the Queensland Bar Association, a member of the Professional Conduct Committee of the Bar Association and a member of the Commercial Litigation Accreditation Committee of the Queensland Law Society. From 2009 till his appointment, his Honour was also the editor of the Queensland Law Reports as well as the editor of the Queensland Law Reporter. He has been an Adjunct Professor at the University of Queensland since 2005 where he has lectured in various courses including commercial law, insurance law, trusts, pleadings and legal practice, leadership and the law, and resources law.

His Honour was sworn in as a Judge of the Federal Court of Australia on 29 March 2017.