Griffith alumnus Dean Clifford-Jones was named the best young legal eagle in the country.
Dean won the Law Council of Australia's 2020 Australian Young Lawyer of the Year award. The national award recognizes his outstanding contribution to the profession through voluntary work and advocacy.
Dean is the founder of Pride in Law, Australia's first national LGBTIQ + law association. Pride in Law is a nonprofit networking association that promotes diversity in the legal profession for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and interviewing attorneys.
Dean has also led a number of initiatives promoting gender diversity and awareness in the workforce and the judiciary.
"The award was quite a surprise, but I am very humble and honored to be recognized by my colleagues in the profession," he said.
"It's a career milestone, but I've always believed that it's not about awards, it's about the quality of work.
"I think the award recognizes what I have achieved in this profession so far and also my volunteer and volunteer work for the LGBTIQ + community."
Dean Clifford-Jones accepts the AEL Young Alumnus of the Year award in 2018.
A graduate of Bachelor of Laws (Honors) and Bachelor of Arts, Dean was the first in his family to attend university.
The promising student received a grant from the George Alexander Foundation that enabled him to move from the Sunshine Coast to continue his studies in Griffith.
"Without the scholarship, I couldn't have afforded to go to university," he said.
“I was the first in my family to go to college and it was a big deal.
"My mother worked hard all her life to give me more opportunities when she grew up."
Dean's keen interest in social justice issues was one of the reasons he chose to study with Griffith.
"Griffith felt like the place for me," he said.
“The Griffith program is unique and very progressive.
"I haven't applied anywhere else and I really believe my time at Griffith created who I am today."
Professor Elena Marchetti
Dean became an assistant judge in his first year after graduation and has achieved notable success in the legal profession as a Crown Attorney and later as a senior child protection attorney. He is currently a full-time member of the Queensland Parole Board.
"It is certainly an intense job that comes with a lot of responsibility, but I see the work I do as a privilege," he said.
“Despite the heavy material that hits my desk, I still have faith in humanity.
"You have to believe that people can change and try to see the good in society."
Acting director of Griffith Law School, Professor Elena Marchetti, said Dean was a former Young Grad of the Year in Arts, Education and Law and one of many notable alumni to make names in the legal profession.
"Dean is an accomplished young attorney with a clear passion for diversity in the legal profession," she said.
"Since graduating from Griffith, Dean has made significant contributions to the profession and the wider community."