The Law Office of Denise M. DeBelle has demonstrated steadfast commitment to her clients throughout the span of over 20 years of legal practice. Her vigorous advocacy puts the interests of her clients first.
Denise M. DeBelle merges her passions and her profession. The result is zealous representation of her clients and promotion of an involved citizenry in the larger community.
Denise has been featured twice on NELA-Illinois' Employee-to-Lawyer
podcasts. In her first appearance (click here
), she discusses ministerial exceptions affecting employment by religious organizations. In her second appearance (click here
), Denise describes her experiences as a solo practitioner attorney, as a legislative and community activist, and as a legal representative for condo associations.
Legal Experience and Background
After graduating law school, Denise was Legislative Liaison for Chicago Alderman Mary Ann Smith ( 48th ward). In 1991, she established a law practice, serving a moderate-income clientele in employment, real estate, housing discrimination and administrative appeals.
A member of the Bar since 1990, Denise’s set out from the start of her legal career was to represent the interests of workers. For over twenty years, she has litigated on behalf of employees in the state and federal courts as well as a variety of administrative forums.
Our firm also represents employers, including non-profit organizations, in an advice and counsel capacity.
Denise has a sixteen-year record of representing condominium associations, both providing advice and counsel and through litigation. Our firm also represents unit owners, defending them where they are victimized by illegal actions of the association.
Our firm advises the Boards of the association on a variety of governance matters and drafts the appropriate documents to carry out the wishes of the condominium Board.
Denise DeBelle has long been engaged in alternative dispute resolution. She was trained as a mediator and served in that capacity on a volunteer basis for the Center for Conflict Resolution from 1995- 1997. In 2020, she was selected to serve on the roster of Arbitrators for the American Arbitration Association.
Denise graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Urban Planning from the University of Illinois, Urbana. She earned a Juris Doctorate from IIT- Chicago Kent Law School. Being selected for Kent’s Moot Court Society, her three-member team won the Regional Finals in the 1987 National Moot Court Appellate Advocacy Competition.
A Record of Civic engagement
Denise has worked as an advocate in a variety of ways throughout her career, before and since becoming an attorney.
Prior to law school she worked as a neighborhood planner and organizer for community revitalization, low-income housing development and enforcement of fair housing opportunities. Among the Chicago non-profit organizations she worked for was Bethel Housing in West Garfield and the Edgewater Community Council, where she was Project Director.
Consistent with her involvement in workplace justice, Denise has been a vigorous advocate for worker rights legislation. Beginning in 2018, she led an initiative of the National Employment Lawyers Association-Illinois to involve NELA directly in legislative action in the Illinois General Assembly. Through drafting of legislation and relationship building with members of the legislature and worker rights allies, NELA’s Legislative Committee secured the passage of two important pro-employee measures in the 2020-2021 session. One bill provides vigorous protections to employees in restrictive noncompete agreements; the second bill imposes additional penalties on employers for wage theft.
For three years, Denise served as co-chair of the NELA -Illinois Legislative Committee. Denise currently co-chairs the IDES (Illinois Department of Employment Security) subcommittee, leading efforts to address particular challenges to Claimants seeking unemployment benefits and also reforms to the Unemployment Insurance Act.
Consistent with Denise’s history of civic involvement she has undertaken several policy and electoral campaigns. She has devoted many hours and much shoe leather doing fieldwork on behalf of reform candidates at the State, Federal, and local levels.
From 1997-2000, she led a multi-faith project to promote campaign finance reform in Illinois, resulting in the endorsement by the Catholic Bishops of Illinois of public financing of elections.
Volunteer Accomplishments/Civic Involvements
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- Board of Directors, NELA- Illinois (2020-2021)
- Co-Chair , NELA Legislative Committee (2018 to 2021)
- Presenter, “Know Your Law” Midwest Workers Association (since 2015)
- Pro Bono Attorney, Amicus Polonia clinic, Chicago Volunteer Legal Services (10 years)
- Board Member, Rogers Park Business Alliance (2010 –2013)
- Campaign consultant and precinct captain, Naisy Dolar for Alderman (Chicago, 50th ward) 2006-07
- President, Indian Boundary Park Advisory Council (2008)