Cleveland-Marshall Law Alumni Association Alumni of the Year recipient Gregory F. Clifford ’80 has been drawn to leadership positions throughout his life. In his profession, he has spent the last 20 years as Chief Magistrate of the Cleveland Municipal Court. At the courthouse, Clifford manages a staff of magistrates and supportive staff persons who handle small claims, traffic, misdemeanor, and civil cases, and provide legal research and recommendations for the Court’s 12 judges.
Recognizing his leadership capabilities, Clifford's colleagues have elected him to serve as President of three associations – the Norman S. Minor Bar Association, Ohio Association of Magistrates, and the Cleveland-Marshall Law Alumni Association. He considers being elected to serve those presidencies to be the highlights of his career.
Greg has sought out leadership roles dating back to his time as a student at CSU Cleveland-Marshall. While in law school, he served as President of the Black Law Students Association and as a senator on the CSU Student Government Association.
“The camaraderie and leadership experiences that I had at C|M|LAW helped to give me a heightened sense of confidence in myself, and direction for the purpose of my life’s work to be in service to others,” said Clifford.
Four decades later, Greg is still involved at CSU C|M|LAW, serving on the school’s Board of Visitors. As a longtime member of the CMLAA’s Board of Trustees, he was instrumental in founding the Minority Outreach Committee to help new minority students at CSU Cleveland-Marshall acclimate to law school and the profession through mentoring, programming and social events.
Serving as a role model is a position Clifford takes seriously. He considers himself fortunate to have had a number of African American attorneys serve as his mentors and role models throughout his career and pays that forward both in the legal profession and the greater legal community. Clifford is a founding member and former president of the Greater Cleveland chapter of 100 Black Men, an organization that provides positive black male role models through sustained, direct involvement with youth in Cleveland’s urban areas.
“The most rewarding part of mentoring is seeing that our efforts have not been in vain and that lessons we taught and the experiences we provided helped to develop well-rounded and respectful young men and women who value education and are successful in their endeavors,” said Clifford.
“I was born and raised in the Glenville neighborhood of Cleveland, educated in the public school system, and recognize that there is considerable human need being unmet,” Clifford continued. “Therefore, I need to do my share to help effectuate some degree of change for the betterment of my community.”
Clifford has held numerous volunteer positions in civic and non-profit organizations throughout the Cleveland community. For his work, Clifford was honored with the Distinguished Alumni Award for Civic Involvement from Cleveland State University.
Clifford also embraces the role of mentor at the Cleveland Municipal Courthouse, where he has spent the past 35 years as a Magistrate after beginning his career as an Assistant Cuyahoga County Prosecutor and in private practice. Mentoring at the courthouse primarily takes place with the Court’s law clerks, the vast majority of whom are C|M|LAW students. Clifford takes the time to work with the law clerks on their legal research, analysis and writing skills.
Clifford is being recognized alongside a former co-worker at the Cleveland Municipal Court, Bedford Municipal Court Judge Michelle L. Paris ’84. Judge Paris preceded Clifford as Chief Magistrate at the Court and both have been inducted into the CSU C|M|LAW’s Hall of Fame.
“I am thrilled to be presented with the honor of being an Alumni of the Year alongside my long-time colleague, friend, and fellow Ohio University Bobcat, Judge Michelle Paris,” said Clifford.
What does being named CMLAA Alumni of the Year mean to you?
“Coming from my fellow CSU law School alumni, the honor bestowed upon me as a recipient of the 2021 Alumni of the Year is one of the most rewarding recognitions that I have been given for my stewardship and professional accomplishments.”