Shortly after graduating from the University of Illinois College of Law
in 1991, Debra Schafer began her legal career working as an assistant
state's attorney in the Winnebago County State's Attorney's
Office. As a prosecutor, she was known for her intelligent, hard-working
and aggressive style. In 1996, she brought those same qualities to Schafer
DeRango & Cain, LLP. Since joining the firm, Debra has focused her
practice in the areas of
criminal defense, juvenile and DCFS investigations and appeals.
Over her career, Debra has handled thousands of cases. She has negotiated
favorable dispositions on misdemeanor and felony offenses and has successfully
defended clients in trials on charges of reckless homicide, aggravated
DUI, domestic battery,
criminal sexual assault, criminal sexual abuse, aggravated battery with a firearm, first-degree
murder and many others. Her repeated success in trial is well known. She
has handled cases all over Northern Illinois including in Winnebago (Rockford),
Boone (Belvidere), Ogle (Oregon), DeKalb (Sycamore), Lee (Dixon), Stephenson
(Freeport), Whiteside (Morrison), McHenry (Woodstock) and Kane (Geneva) counties.
Debra's skill as a trial lawyer was recognized by the Illinois Supreme
Court in 2002 when she was certified as a member of the Capital Litigation
Trial Bar, authorizing her to serve as lead counsel defending clients
facing the death penalty.
In 2008, the Professionalism Advisory Council of the 17
th Judicial Circuit Court selected Debra to participate as a Mentor in their
Mentoring Program, a pilot program developed in conjunction with the Illinois
Supreme Court's Commission on Professionalism.
In addition to her full time trial schedule, Debra enjoys working with
law students at the Northern Illinois University College of Law. She was
hired as an adjunct professor in 2008. Since that time she has taught
students involved in the University's Criminal Defense Clinic, and
in 2010, she began teaching Trial Advocacy.
Current Employment Position:
Areas of Practice:
- Criminal Defense (State and Federal, Felony and Misdemeanor)
- Juvenile Abuse and Neglect
- Juvenile Delinquency
- DCFS Investigations and Appeals
- Illinois, 1991
- U.S. District Court Northern District of Illinois, 1999
- U.S. District Court Central District of Illinois, 2009
- Capital Litigation Trial Bar, 2002
- University of Illinois College of Law, Urbana, Illinois, 1991 - J.D.
- Illinois State University, Normal, Illinois, 1988 - B.S.