Brigitte Bierlein was born on 25 June 1949 in Vienna during the Allied occupation of Austria. Her father was a civil servant. Her mother, trained as an artist, was a homemaker. She was educated at the Gymnasium Kundmanngasse, from which she graduated in 1967. Bierlein originally wanted to study either art or architecture and came close to joining the University of Applied Arts. However, she ultimately chose to study law instead, partly on the advice of her mother and partly because she did not want to be a financial burden on her parents any longer than necessary. Bierlein enrolled at the University of Vienna, receiving her doctorate of law in 1971.