Karen Kies DeGrand



KAREN KIES DEGRAND leads the appellate practice of Donohue Brown Mathewson & Smyth LLC in Chicago. She has extensive experience representing clients before the appellate and supreme courts of Illinois, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, and the appellate and supreme courts of Wisconsin and Indiana. In addition, she advises trial counsel regarding preservation of issues for appeal and handles post-trial proceedings.

An experienced trial lawyer, Ms. DeGrand defends attorneys and physicians in a wide range of professional liability matters. She has defended attorneys in a variety of practice areas including criminal defense, domestic relations, transactional work, estate planning and tort litigation.

Ms. DeGrand also has successfully defended product liability and employment actions and litigated business and insurance coverage disputes. She has guided her clients through insurance disputes involving contested interpretations of professional liability and commercial general liability policies.

Ms. DeGrand, the firm’s managing partner, is a former President of the Appellate Lawyers Association and is included in the annual listing of “Super Lawyers” and “Leading Lawyers” in the area of appellate practice. In 2015 she was named to Leading Lawyers’ list of Top 10 Women in Civil Appellate, and in 2016 she was inducted into the American Academy of Appellate Lawyers, an organization with its membership limited to appellate lawyers with a minimum of 15 years of practice focusing substantially on appeals and possessing a reputation of recognized distinction as an appellate lawyer. Ms. DeGrand recently served as a member of the Illinois Supreme Court’s Committee on Professional Responsibility.

Ms. DeGrand received her law degree from the University of Illinois College of Law, where she served as an associate editor of the University of Illinois Law Review. She received her undergraduate degree in journalism from the University of Illinois, where she was awarded Bronze Tablet, the University’s highest recognition for academic excellence.



  • J.D., University of Illinois College of Law, 1985
    • Associate Editor of the University of Illinois Law Review
  • B.A., University of Illinois – Urbana-Champaign, 1982
    • Awarded Bronze Tablet for Academic Excellence, Highest University Honors


  • The Best Lawyers in America® 2020 (Appellate Practice)
  • Fellow – American Academy of Appellate Lawyers (inducted 2016)
  • “Leading Lawyer” by Leading Lawyer Magazine (2012 – present)
  • Named “Top Ten Women Civil Appellate Attorneys in Illinois” by Leading Lawyer Magazine (2015)
  • Member of Illinois Supreme Court Committee on Professional Responsibility (2015 – 2018)
  • President of the Appellate Lawyers Association (2012 – 2013)
  • Illinois Super Lawyer (2007 – 2020)
  • Appellate Lawyers Association (President 2012-2013)
  • Member of the Illinois Supreme Court Committee on Professional Responsibility (2015-2018)


  • Illinois Bar, 1985
  • U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, 1985
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, 1995
  • United States Supreme Court, 2006


Blue v. Defendant Automobile Manufacturer

03/01/1997 Client:

Defendant Automobile Manufacturer


Defense Verdict.

Plaintiff claimed that the defendant’s failure to implement an ignition key interlock allowed plaintiff to turn the ignition key to “off” without placing the vehicle in “park.” This allegedly caused ...


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