Shelly DeRousse is a Partner and Co-Leader of the Bankruptcy and Financial Restructuring Practice Group.

Shelly has extensive experience in the areas of bankruptcy, reorganization, litigation and asset sales. As lead counsel, Shelly has represented official creditors’ committees throughout the country in chapter 11 bankruptcy cases. Additionally, she represents companies and high earning individuals in their restructurings or workout negotiations with their lenders and other creditors. Additionally, she is known among banks and other financial institutions as a leading attorney for lenders in bankruptcy cases, out-of-court workouts of borrowers’ loans, and assignments for the benefit of creditors, using creative solutions to maximize the lenders’ recovery from collateral and other assets.   

In addition to her profound and comprehensive working knowledge of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, the Uniform Commercial Code, assignments for the benefit of creditors, and receiverships, Shelly offers clients years of practical experience and knowledge of how to best solve very complex debtor-creditor issues. She has worked on every side of bankruptcies and workouts, including the representation of debtors, secured creditors, unsecured creditors, lessors, lessees, guarantors, trustees and creditors’ committees. She has represented clients ranging from large publicly traded companies in mega-bankruptcy cases to smaller privately held middle market companies in chapter 11 filings or large international banks to small community banks.  

Shelly is a very successful and accomplished commercial litigator and trial attorney. As lead attorney, she has litigated to judgment many trials and hearings on issues including mismanagement and fraud, fraudulent transfers, relief from the automatic stay, use of cash collateral, commercial contract disputes, assessment of lease value, benefit to a bankruptcy estate, and breach of fiduciary duty.

Shelly is the President of the Women's Bar Foundation of Illinois and serves as the Co-Chair of the Turnaround Management Association's Committee for Networking of Women for the Midwest Region. In 2018, Shelly was elected as a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation and was one of six women in the nation named as finalist for the distinguished Chambers award for “Inspiring Role Model in Promoting Gender Diversity in the Legal Profession.” In 2010, Shelly was named as one of the most Influential Women in Business by the Business Ledger and the National Association of Women Business Owners of Chicago. Shelly has also served on the Executive Board of Directors of the Women’s Bar Foundation for many years and is an expert in food allergy law and regularly advocates for families and children who have food allergies.   

Prior to joining Freeborn & Peters, Shelly was a Partner in the Bankruptcy and Commercial Litigation Groups at Stahl Cowen Crowley Addis LLC and an Associate in the Commercial Restructuring Group at Sidley Austin LLP.

Honors & Awards: 
  • Crain's Chicago Business GenX Leaders in Law - 2019
  • Finalist, Chambers Women in Law Awards: USA 2018
  • Influential Women in Business 2010, Business Ledger
  • Illinois Leading Lawyers - 2019 (cited in multiple years)
Professional Activities: 
  • President, Women's Bar Foundation
  • Women's Bar Association of Illinois
  • American Bankruptcy Institute (ABI)
  • Turnaround Management Association (TMA)
  • Chicago Bar Association, Bankruptcy Committee
  • Chicago Bar Association, Professional Fees Committee
  • International Women's Insolvency & Restructuring Confederation
  • Professional Women's Club of Chicago
  • "Mandatory Arbitration Clauses in Consumer Contracts: Consumer Protection and the Circumvention of the Judicial System," 50 DePaul L. Rev. 1191 (2001)


J.D., DePaul University College of Law, with honors, Order of the Coif; CALI Excellence for the Future Award; Associate Editor, DePaul Law Review
B.S., Illinois State University

State Bar Admissions

  • Illinois

Federal Bar Admissions

  • Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals
  • United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
  • United States District Court for the Northern and Southern Districts of Indiana
  • United States District Court for the District of Colorado
  • United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin
  • United States District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin

Teaching experience

  • Adjunct Professor, DePaul University College of Law (Spring 2008)

Community Service

  • Advocate for Food Allergy Research and Awareness
  • Food Allergy Guidelines Committee (appointed by the Illinois State Board of Education and the Illinois Department of Public Health to draft Guidelines for Managing Life Threatening Food Allergies in Illinois Schools, published in 2010)
  • Food Allergy Law Blog