Judge Debjani Desai is the proud daughter of immigrants and a first generation lawyer. She was taught the spirit of service and hard work from her family and made the decision early on to devote her entire career to public service. She has proudly and compassionately served the underserved and underprivileged her entire career. When practicing as a lawyer, she zealously advocated for victims, elderly, indigent, disabled, and vulnerable individuals. Now, as a judge, she strives for equal justice for all, and ensures that anyone that comes into her courtroom gets a fair shot.
Judge Desai was appointed as a Cook County Judge upon the recommendation of Chief Justice Mary Jane Theis and by unanimous vote of the Illinois Supreme Court. She has been found Highly Qualified by the Hispanic Lawyers Association of Illinois, Well-Qualified by the Chicago Council of Lawyers, and Qualified and Recommended by all other evaluating bar associations.
Judge Desai previously served as General Counsel for the Illinois Office of Comptroller, where she provided legal counsel on state comptroller mandates, such as ordering payments through the treasury, managing the state’s fiscal accounts, and conducting audits and reports on the state’s fiscal health.
In prior roles, she served as an Administrative Law Judge for the Department of Healthcare and Family Services, presiding over Medicaid, medical vendor, and child support appeals. As Assistant General Counsel, she also managed state and federal litigation for the same agency. Prior to that, she advocated for victims and equal justice as a prosecutor of financial crimes and public corruption for the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office.
For decades, Judge Desai has actively contributed to the community through her leadership with bar associations and community organizations. She is a long-time leader in the Asian American Bar Association of Greater Chicago, South Asian Bar Association of Chicago, Women’s Bar Association of Illinois, the Chicago Lighthouse, and other organizations that promote and advance diversity, equity, and inclusion. Judge Desai is a strong believer in education and practical training, and has served as an Adjunct Professor at UIC School of Law, a mock trial coach for high schools and colleges, and frequent speaker on important legal and community topics.