About Judge Desai

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 to devote her entire career to the public good. When practicing as a lawyer, she zealously advocated for victims and elderly, indigent, disabled, and vulnerable individuals. As a judge, she strives for equal justice for all.

Recently appointed as Cook County Judge by unanimous vote of the Illinois Supreme Court, Judge Desai previously served as General Counsel for the Illinois Office of Comptroller. There she led a team of lawyers in Chicago and Springfield to provide 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. She advised the office on litigation, legislation, finance, operations, compliance, and labor and employment matters.

In prior roles, she served as an Administrative Law Judge for the Department of Healthcare and Family Services and presiding over Medicaid, medical vendor, and child support appeals. She also managed state and federal litigation for the same agency, serving elderly, disabled, and indigent populations. In addition, she formerly advocated for victims and equal justice as a prosecutor of financial crimes and public corruption, juvenile justice, and civil actions.

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.

Outside of her role as General Counsel, Judge Desai served as a Special Prosecutor in child protection cases in juvenile court, an adjunct professor teaching Counseling and Negotiations at UIC Law, and frequently a mock trial coach for high schools and colleges. Debjani is a 2022 CBA Vanguard Award recipient.