Debra Schafer

Debra Schafer

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, drug dealing, 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:

  • Partner

Areas of Practice:

  • Criminal Defense (State and Federal, Felony and Misdemeanor)
  • Traffic
  • Juvenile Abuse and Neglect
  • Juvenile Delinquency
  • DCFS Investigations and Appeals

Bar Admissions:

  • 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.

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