A life-long Columbia native, DeAndrea Gist Benjamin was born in Columbia, South Carolina on October 4, 1972 to Donald and Adrienne Gist. She is married to the Honorable Stephen K. Benjamin, attorney and Mayor of Columbia, South Carolina. The Benjamins have two daughters.
Judge Benjamin attended public school in Richland County and graduated from Columbia High School in 1990. She enrolled in college at Winthrop University in 1990 and graduated in 1994 with a Bachelors of Arts. While at Winthrop, she was inducted into the Political Science Hall of Fame and received the Order of the Omega.
Judge Benjamin went on to attend Law School at the University of South Carolina and graduated with a Juris Doctor in 1997. While in Law School she served on the Student Government Council and was selected as a Kellogg Child Welfare Fellow. She was admitted to the South Carolina Bar on November 18, 1997, the SC District Court in September 2001 and the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in November of 2002.
Following law school, Judge Benjamin clerked for the Honorable L. Casey Manning. Upon completing her clerkship she began her career as a Prosecutor in the Fifth Circuit Solicitor’s Office and the Attorney General’s Office. In 2001, she joined her father’s law firm, Gist Law Firm, where she practiced until being elected to the Circuit Court bench on February 2, 2011.
She has served on the Juvenile Parole Board (2001-2004) and as a Municipal Judge for the City of Columbia from July 2004 until April 2011.
Judge Benjamin has been very active in the bar and in the community. She has served on the SC Bar Board of Governors, SC Bar House of Delegates, SC Bar Young Lawyers Division (Chair 2006-2007), Children’s Law Committee (Chair 2010 –2011), Richland County Bar Association, SC Black Lawyers Association, SC Women Lawyers Association, and Appleseed Legal Justice Board. As a young lawyer, Judge Benjamin, was very active in the American Bar Association Young Lawyers Division. She served as District Representative for South Carolina and the Virgin islands and served on various committees.
Judge Benjamin has served on the Edventure Children’s Museum Board, Sexual Trauma Services Board, Congaree Girl Scouts Board, Arts Council, USC Community Advisory Board, North Main Street Redevelopment Advisory Committee, and St. John Baptist Church Preschool Foundation Board. She is a member of the Columbia Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and Jack and Jill of America.
Judge Benjamin and her family attend St. John Baptist Church in Columbia,