Inspirational Woman Award

Inspirational Woman Award

2019 Inspirational Woman of the Year: Deborah A. Carder

During her fifteen years at the country’s largest matrimonial law firm, Debbie developed superior skills in analyzing, negotiation and litigation. In 2015, Debbie launched her own law firm allowing her to provide clients with a personalized approach while providing the same quality representation.

Debbie received her Bachelor's Degree from the University of Illinois and her Juris Doctor from DePaul University College of Law. She is a graduate of the American Bar Association's Family Law Trial Advocacy Institute and the Collaborative Law Institute of Illinois Training Program. Debbie is also a trained mediator. She draws on this expansive background and knowledge to help her clients navigate through the legal process and to ensure the best possible outcomes for them personally and financially after their cases are completed.

Her dedication to the law and integrity in dealing with the Courts and fellow attorneys has not gone unnoticed. Since 2007, Debbie has consistently received the honor of being selected by her peers as a Leading Lawyer in Illinois. She has been named as one of the Top 100 Women Consumer Lawyers in Illinois, an Illinois Rising Star and an Illinois Super Lawyer. Most notably, Debbie was chosen in 2010 by the Law Bulletin Publishing Company as one of the "40 Attorneys Under 40 in Illinois to Watch" and, since 2016, has been included in the Family Law Edition of Best Lawyers in America, the oldest and most recognized peer-review publication in the legal profession. She was further awarded the 2019 Inspirational Woman Award.

Debbie is a published author on family law issues and assisted in redrafting the DuPage County local court rules which govern domestic relations cases. She is a Past President of the DuPage Association of Women Lawyers and a Former Chair of the Family Law Committee for the DuPage County Bar Association.

Working with the Presiding Judge of the Domestic Relations Division in DuPage County, Debbie was the first Chairperson of the Eighteenth Judicial Circuit Court Committee for the Improvement of Access to the Legal System. In 2015, Debbie expanded her reach to statewide organizations when she was appointed to the Illinois State Bar Association Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Committee. While Debbie’s primary practice is in DuPage County, she regularly litigates cases in Kane, Kendall and Will Counties.

About the Award

The Inspirational Woman Award evolved from The Glass-Ceiling Buster Award. Thanks in large measure to the hard-work and distinguished service of many of the women who have come before us, today’s women lawyers can take pride in the fact that the glass ceiling has been not just busted by a few, but shattered by many. As a result of the hard-work and dedication of our predecessors, our options and opportunities as today’s women lawyers are limitless.

The Inspirational Woman is one who has achieved success not only in the courtroom or in the office, but in her life – whether she be a fierce litigator, with a secretly soft heart, or a tenacious practitioner, with a fondness for simple indulgences that nourish her soul. She approaches her practice with civility and professionalism in a manner that enhances, not compromises, her standing in the courtroom and the community.

The Inspirational Woman is one who embraces all aspects of her womanhood and has managed to successfully balance the demands of family, friends, and her colleagues and clients in the workplace. The Inspirational Woman is one who sees her legal career as a vocation, rather than merely a job or work to be done. She sees the people around her – whether they are family-members, friends, colleagues, or clients – as the most meaningful and valuable parts of a life that is not always neatly compartmentalized by family needs versus career needs. Hers is a life of artful balance.

She tends to the needs of those entrusted to her care – whether they are family-members, friends, colleagues or clients – with courage, strength, dignity and compassion. She leads by example. She teaches. She encourages. She does not hesitate to sing the high praises of other worthy women. She delivers meaningful reproach when necessary, and offers good advice when asked. She mentors those fortunate enough to follow in her footsteps. She is buoyed by their strength and capacity to surpass her own example or others’ expectations. She rejoices in the accomplishments of her peers, for the betterment of the profession and the benefit of the community.

She embraces the world through all of her roles – whether as daughter, sister, mother, friend, litigator, colleague or counselor. She epitomizes the valor of the profession and the grace of womanhood.

Past Winners

  • Judge Helen C Kinney (Year Unknown)
  • Tom Leahy (Year Unknown)
  • Irene Bahr – 1999
  • Professor Dawn Clark Netsch – 2001
  • Justice Ann Jorgensen – 2003
  • Haydee Olinger – 2004
  • Irene Bahr – 2006
  • Judge Bonnie Wheaton – 2007
  • Jane Radostits – 2008
  • Susan Alvarado – 2009
  • Brenda Carroll – 2010
  • Brigid Duffield – 2011
  • Michelle Moore – 2012
  • Judge Dorothy French – 2013
  • Margaret O’Connell – 2014
  • Lynn M. Mirabella – 2015
  • Judge Linda Davenport - 2016
  • Kimberly Davis - 2017
  • Rebecca Laho - 2018
  • Deborah A. Carder - 2019