After 16 years of public service through various legal platforms, Dean became the first woman to hold the position of executive director of the South Carolina Bar Association in January 2023. Dean attended Washington and Lee University where she double majored in politics and economics, and then went straight to law school at University of South Carolina School of Law.
After graduating, Dean began working as a staff attorney at the Court of Appeals and immediately confirmed her decision to practice law.
Dean joined Judge John Kittridge’s chambers in the Court of Appeals shortly after and remained with him when he was elected to the Supreme Court.
“I suddenly found myself surrounded by mentors, who took an interest in helping me and helping me develop and it was just incredible,” Dean said. “It’s an awesome thing to know and to find people with similar interests in service and dedication to justice.”
Dean worked in civil litigation at Nelson Mullins before she went to work at the statehouse for the House Judiciary Committee, first as assistant chief counsel and later as chief counsel.
“I was really excited about working as chief counsel because I really got to utilize my interests those while working with the public,” Dean said. “I was helping members as they draft legislation and really trying to problem solve. Constituents or members would come to me with problems that they were hearing about in their communities, and we’d look at the law and look at ways to help solve these problems.”
As executive director of the South Carolina Bar Association, Dean hopes to strengthen the member services to support attorneys, cultivate relationships with attorneys throughout the state, and continue to serve her community. “I’m very grateful for this opportunity,” Dean said. “It’s a huge opportunity for service. I believe in fairness, and I believe in serving this legal system that we’ve all dedicated our lives to. It’s a huge honor to get to do that.”
As the first woman to hold this position, Dean wants to be a voice for younger female attorneys. “Relationships are very important to me,” Dean said. “Communication is very important to me. I want to hear from them and hear what support they need in order to be the best advocates they can be.”
From a young age, service, fairness, justice, and giving back to your community have been important to Dean.
“The more you serve others, you get the opportunity to see them grow and make a difference in this world,” Dean said. “There’s no cooler thing than to see that.”
As a first generation lawyer, Dean recognized the difference that having strong mentors made in the development of her career. Dean is now a volunteer mentor for first semester students at the University South Carolina School of Law and has fostered relationships with law clerks that have worked for her at the State House.
“I think it’s very important to help the next generation,” Dean said. “My mentors made a huge difference in my life. Anybody who’s willing to have me as a mentor, I’m very interested in helping, just as I’ve been helped.”
Since law school, Dean has remained in Columbia. She now lives with her husband and their four children. When she is not serving the law community, Dean spends her time coaching sports teams that her children play on or hiking in South Carolina State Parks.