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Photo of Stark, Debra Pogrund

Debra Pogrund Stark

Professor of Law


Building & Room:



300 S. State Street, Chicago, Illinois 60604

Office Phone:

(312) 360-2650

CV Download:



Professor Stark received her B.A. degree from Brandeis University, summa cum laude, phi betta kappa; her J.D. degree from Northwestern University School of Law, cum laude; and her certificate of completion of mediation training from Northwestern University.

She proudly joined the faculty of The John Marshall Law School in 1994 after eight years in private practice with Katten Muchin. Her two primary areas of legal expertise are in real estate law and domestic violence related laws.

A nationally recognized expert in the field of property and real estate law, Prof. Stark chaired the American Association of Law School’s Real Estate Section, chaired the Foreclosure and Related Remedies Committee of the Real Estate Section of the American Bar Association (ABA), Vice-Chaired the Real Estate Section’s Pro Bono Committee, was elected to the American College of Real Estate Lawyers and Lambda Alpha International, authored and co-authored four books on real estate law (two practice oriented books published by the ABA, and two course textbooks: one of which has gone through two editions and has been adopted by several other law schools). Professor Stark has also published many law review articles (including in the Yale Law Journal-Online, the Harvard Blackletter Law Journal, the Michigan Journal of Law Reform, and the NYU Journal of Law & Business) on a variety of legal topics as they affect real estate development and finance (including the use of derivatives, prepayment charges, reverse mortgages, construction law, land use law, environmental laws, and bankruptcy laws). She has also frequently presented at conferences on a variety of real estate topics. Professor Stark has also co-authored and published approximately a dozen inter-disciplinary law review and peer reviewed articles with Dr. Jessica Choplin, several of which were funded under a National Science Foundation Grant exploring consumer vulnerability to fraud when taking out home loans. Professor Stark continues to engage in empirical research, scholarship, and legal advocacy on behalf of victims of predatory lending and other forms of deceptive business practices and is one of the top 10% of all authors downloaded overall on SSRN.

In 2008, Professor Stark began to explore the problem of domestic violence and how the legal system can better respond to domestic violence. She engaged in empirical and comparative law based research on this topic for several years, culminating in her publication of two extensive law review articles that formulate critically needed law reform proposals: “What’s Law Got To Do With It? Confronting Judicial Nullification of Domestic Violence Remedies” 10 Northwestern J.L. & Soc. Pol’y. 130 (2015) and “Seeing the Wrecking Ball in Motion: Ex Parte Protection Orders and the Realities of Domestic Violence” 32 Wisconsin J.L. Gender & Soc’y 13 (2017). Her desire to use the law to help protect the most vulnerable members of our society, combined with her research on best practices for the legal system to respond to domestic violence and her law firm background, inspired her to become the founder of the law school's Domestic Violence Clinical Advocacy Program and its Family Law & Domestic Violence Clinic (together the “DV Clinic”). She serves as the director of both. The DV Clinic that Professor Stark designed and created won the Illinois State Bar Association’s “Excellence in Legal Education” Award in 2016 for the innovative ways in which it trained its students, the comprehensive legal assistance it is able to provide to DV survivors and their children, and its law reform projects. The Family Law & DV Clinic provides legal representation or other forms of legal assistance to survivors of domestic violence in ten practice areas that they need assistance with due to the many forms of abuse they have experienced. These ten practice areas are: (i) orders of protection, (ii) divorce/parentage and child protection cases, (iii) crime victim compensation, (iv) housing protections, (v) employment protections, (vi) debt relief/credit repair, (vii) tax liability relief, (viii) immigration relief, (ix) estate and financial planning, and (x) criminal self-defense cases. Students in the DV Clinic work under the supervision of a diverse group of expert attorneys who are trained by the Clinic on domestic violence and on the clinic’s missions and special procedures. Another innovative feature Professor Stark implemented is that all of the clinic’s clients must first have received risk assessment and safety planning from one of the ten domestic violence service organizations the clinic currently partners with. Another unique feature she set up is that students in the clinic also work with her and other experts on special projects that can have a broad, systemic impact, such as empirical and multi-state law reform proposals, community presentations, and the development of “virtual lawyer” type pro se resources. Professor Stark frequently lectures and presents at programs on the topic of domestic violence and the legal system’s response, has served on the advisory working group for the Presiding Judge of the Domestic Violence Court in Cook, County, Illinois, has been invited by the Presiding Judge of the Domestic Relations Division of Cook County, Illinois to make a presentation to hundreds of child representatives in Cook County on better addressing domestic violence in “custody” cases, and has organized five annual Domestic Violence Educational Conferences to improve society’s and the legal system’s efforts to prevent and respond to domestic violence.

Professor Stark feels blessed to have expertise in two areas of law: real estate and domestic violence, and looks forward to continuing to work with her students and others to promote best practices in each of these areas of law.

Professor Stark was appointed to State Representative Joyce Mason's Working Group on Kayden's Law (2023-present).