From Athlete to Judge

Growing up the second-youngest of ten children, Lloyd Dean '90 does not remember his parents talking much about a great-grandfather named Delos Rogest Davis, who happens to have been the first black lawyer in Canada.

"My dad is not very fond of lawyers," jokes Dean, who first heard the full story of his great-grandfather's accomplishments — Davis was also the first black lawyer in the entire British Commonwealth to be appointed King's Counsel — during his first year at Windsor Law.

Up to that point, Dean had mostly thought of himself as an athlete. His cousin is Tony Dungy, the record-breaking NFL football coach who was also a standout college and professional player. Growing up, Dean's plan was to follow in his cousin's gridiron footsteps.

After completing his undergraduate degree at the University of Windsor, Dean still had three years of eligibility left as a football player. His coach was the first person to even mention law school.

"I didn't go to law school to become a lawyer," Dean explains. "I went to law school, because I didn't know what else to do."

Less than 20 years later, this football player with a law degree is now a judge with the Ontario Court of Justice. How he went from the football field to the bench is another story altogether.

Dean was hired out of law school by Harvey Strosberg, a prominent class action lawyer in Windsor. At first, the job seemed to suit Dean's on-field competitive streak. It was high-profile and high-paying, but ended up feeling too repetitive and restricting.

"The only thing I liked about law was the courtroom," Dean remembers. "Going from football field — with all that adrenaline — to sitting behind a desk… I couldn't handle it at the age of 28, so I quit and I went into teaching."

Or at least that was the plan. After his last day of work at Strosberg's office, Dean stepped into the elevator and struck up a conversation with a complete stranger who turned out to be the Crown Attorney of Windsor. There was an opening in his office for a prosecutor. Dean's eyes lit up. He called the Crown Attorney's secretary immediately, got an interview, and got the job.

Dean could not start working as a prosecutor until he received an official "order in council" confirming the appointment. So he got a job as a high school teacher in the mean time. When the order came through, Dean was able to strike a remarkable deal to work part-time as a teacher and part-time as an assistant Crown Attorney.

"I'm doing both for six years and I'm in heaven," says Dean. Eventually, the school board was restructured and the new folks did not like to share, so Dean became a full-time prosecutor.

Dean thrived in the courtroom. He loved that every day brought exciting new challenges, just like the football field. Over the years, he built a solid reputation for his work ethic and his even-temperedness, skills that are highly prized on the bench.

"I wasn't even thinking about being a judge," Dean says. But when his colleagues urged him to apply, he let his competitive spirit take over. Not surprisingly, he won again.

Dean loves being a judge, he says, but he "didn't have a clue" how hard it would be.

"There are different pressures than being a prosecutor," he explains. "The weight of all those decisions. Everything you do throughout the day is a decision that affects someone's life. You're doing that day in and day out."

After a few unexpected twists and turns, Dean is indeed following in the footsteps of one of his relatives. In his final year at Windsor Law, he established the Delos Rogest Davis, K.C. Memorial Award to assist students who exemplify the character of his distinguished great-grandfather.