Debra Bogo-Ernst is a partner in Willkie's Litigation Department and Chair of the Class Action Litigation Practice. She is based in Willkie's Chicago office.

With over 20 years of experience, Ms. Bogo-Ernst represents a broad range of national and international organizations in class actions and other high-stakes, complex litigation in the areas of autos, financial services, insurance, privacy, products liability, and telecommunications. These cases involve the alphabet soup of statutory claims, privacy, unfair and deceptive trade practices, false advertising, safety and efficacy issues, false claims, government programs, fair housing and discrimination, civil conspiracy, and fraud-related claims. She also handles a variety of government investigations, regulatory matters, and enforcement actions involving state attorneys general, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Department of Justice, and other state agencies. Ms. Bogo-Ernst often assists clients in navigating Consent Orders and other government settlements, including through the use of independent consultants. She also defends companies in a wide variety of complex commercial litigation, including bet-the-company risks and business-to-business disputes, and she has significant bench and jury trial experience. 

Ms. Bogo-Ernst was recognized by Crain's Chicago Business' 2023 "Who's Who" list in the Law Section as well as a "Notable Woman in Law" in 2022. She was also named among Lawdragon's 500 Leading Litigators in America in 2022, an Illinois Leading Lawyer since 2021 in the areas of Commercial Litigation, Class Actions/Mass Tort Defense Law, and Banking & Financial Institutions Law, an Illinois/Local Litigation Star for Health Care & Securities for 2016 to 2023 by Benchmark Litigation, and a Life Sciences Star from 2016-2022 in the area of Non-IP Litigation by Euromoney's Legal Media Group Life Sciences. She currently serves on Law360’s editorial advisory board for banking, and she also previously served on the editorial advisory board for product liability.


Debra was previously the Office Managing Partner for Mayer Brown’s Chicago office and co-lead of the firm's nationwide Consumer & Class Action practice.
  • Law Bulletin Media, Illinois Leading Lawyers (since 2021)     
    • Commercial Litigation
    • Class Action/Mass Tort Defense Law
    • Banking & Financial Institutions Law 
  • Law Bulletin Media & Chicago Lawyer Magazine, “4th Annual Top Women in Law” (2023)
  • The American Registry, “Leading Lawyers In Illinois” Banking & Financial Institutions Law (2023)
  • Crain’s Chicago Business, “Who’s Who” list (2023)
  • Crain’s Chicago Business, “Notable Woman in Law” (2022)
  • Lawdragon, 500 Leading Litigators in America (since 2023)
  • Illinois Super Lawyers - Civil Litigation: Defense (2024)
  • Benchmark Litigation, Illinois/Local Litigation Star for Health Care & Securities (2016-2023)
  • Euromoney’s Legal Media Group Life Sciences, Life Sciences Star for Non-IP litigation (2016-2022)
  • Metropolitan Family Services, Board Member
  • American Bar Association, Class Actions & Derivative Suits Committee
  • Mortgage Bankers Association, Legal Issues & Regulatory Compliance Committee
  • Won class action challenging overdraft and non-sufficient funds checking account fees in industry-leading opinion which also fully excluded plaintiffs’ experts.
  • Successfully quelled nationwide Telephone Consumer Protection Act proposed classes, consisting of wrong number class and contacts without consent.
  • Defeated class action litigation in an MDL and on appeal to the 9th Circuit, consisting of dozens of cases filed throughout the country, concerning the Home Affordable Modification Program and related claims relating to breach of contract, promissory estoppel, Equal Credit Opportunity Act, unfair and deceptive trade practices statutes, and related claims.
  • Won proposed nationwide class action litigation, both on class certification and summary judgment as to the named plaintiffs, related to recurring property inspection fees in district court and on appeal to the 9th Circuit.
  • Quelled class action related to overdraft and non-sufficient funds checking account fees by successfully compelling arbitration.
  • Successfully defended global pharmaceutical company, both in district court and on appeal to the 6th Circuit, in defeating proposed nationwide class action related to purported violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.
  • Successfully defended financial institution in ten putative class action cases pending throughout the country on the facilitation of payments to payday lenders using ACH transactions.
  • Representing global insurance company in litigation related to surety bond for government contracting.
  • Defended Ponzi scheme litigation relating to purported conspiracy to commit fraudulent transfers, aiding and abetting fraudulent transfers, common law fraud, negligence/negligent hiring and supervision, aiding and abetting breach of fiduciary duties, fraudulent transfers in alleged violation of state law, and unjust enrichment.
  • Representing mortgage servicer in Fair Housing Act litigation related to maintenance, marketing, and sales of real estate-owned properties.
  • Represented global life insurance company in proposed nationwide class action relating to text messages sent in purported violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.
  • Represented global financial institution in several nationwide, class action cases related to the foreclosure and interest rate provisions of the Servicemembers’ Civil Relief Act as well as certain claims under the Military Lending Act.
  • Defended purported nationwide class action challenging failure to pay interest on property tax and insurance funds held in mortgage escrow account in alleged violation of law of 14 states.
  • Defending challenges to checking account fees across the country in a variety of putative class actions.
  • Represented mortgage servicer in proposed nationwide class action litigation related to calculation of interest in adjustable rate mortgages.
  • Defended proposed nationwide class action litigation related to reimbursement of court costs to borrowers.
  • Defended proposed nationwide class action litigation related to third-party foreclosure-related services.

* Debra advised on some of these matters prior to joining Willkie.



University of Illinois College of Law, J.D. (magna cum laude), 2000 University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, B.A. (cum laude), 1997

Bar Admissions


Court Admissions

United States Court of Appeals, 1st Circuit United States Court of Appeals, 2nd Circuit United States Court of Appeals, 4th Circuit United States Court of Appeals, 6th Circuit United States Court of Appeals, 7th Circuit United States Court of Appeals, 8th Circuit United States Court of Appeals, 9th Circuit United States Court of Appeals, 11th Circuit United States District Court, Eastern District of Michigan United States District Court, Northern District of Illinois