Recipient of the NSW Australian of The Year Award in 2017 and the prestigious Law Society President’s medal, Deng is one of Australia’s most renowned criminal lawyers for his work in the courtroom and as a leader within the community.
Born in South Sudan in 1983, Deng’s family lived on a farm in northeast Africa. However, in the mid-1980s, war broke out in South Sudan, causing widespread famine and the bombing of villages. As a result, four of his brothers joined the rebel forces.
At the mere age of six, Deng was conscripted into the Sudan People’s Liberation Army as a child soldier. During the Sudanese civil war, he was forced to undertake military training, including the use of hand grenades, firearms and land mines. It was during this time that Deng was seriously injured by a bullet during combat.
Miraculously, one of his brothers found him and smuggled him out of the military camp and into a refugee camp in Kenya.
Finally, at the age of fourteen, Deng and his brother were sponsored by an Australian couple and eventually settled in Blacktown. Despite not knowing how to read or write, Deng’s determination and desire to succeed saw him take on a part-time job at a service station where he learnt to speak English. He would then go on to study accounting before enrolling in law at the University of Western Sydney.
After graduating and completing a Master’s in Criminal Law, Deng worked as a lawyer in criminal, immigration, and family law. He is also a co-founder and partner at the Australian Criminal Law Group. Prior to starting the AC Law Group, Deng worked at three reputable Sydney criminal law firms and worked at Blacktown Local Court as a liaison officer to the local Sudanese community and at the Parramatta Community Justice Clinic.
Further demonstrating his remarkable commitment to social justice, he is also a well-known advocate for the Sudanese community and is a revered social justice warrior. Deng has dedicated his life and career to making a positive difference, helping marginalized refugees with legal advice, mentoring and support.
In memory of his brother who died in 2014 whilst helping rescue South Sudanese civilians, just as he had rescued Deng all those years before, Deng started a charity, the John Mac Foundation.
News Corporation has described Deng as the Pride of Australia, and in 2016, he was invited by NSW Premier Mike Baird to give the 2016 Australia Day Address.
In 2016, he published his critically acclaimed memoir, Songs of a War Boy, recounting his journey to become one of Australia’s best lawyers. He was also the subject of a portrait that won the People’s Choice at the Archibald Prize.
Deng was named the 2017 NSW Australian of The Year for his achievements and contribution to the Western Sydney community.
As a speaker, he is incredibly articulate, inspiring and motivating his audiences with his life story of survival and success.
Deng is one of only three criminal lawyers to win the prestigious Law Society President’s Medal. This medal recognizes his significant personal and professional contributions to the betterment of law and justice in the community.