Bio: Dennis Kleper

Dennis Kleper - Paving the Way

By Patrick Reardon
First Assistant Public Defender, Cook County Public Defender’s Office

As a new lawyer, Dennis Kleper went to work for his cousin’s law office after his admission to the Illinois Bar in 1974. His cousin was out of town and asked Dennis to get a continuance on a major felony. When Dennis arrived in court the judge said, “I don’t care if you just passed the bar; I don’t care if you don’t know the case. You are picking a jury now!” Dennis did, and has been a committed criminal defense lawyer ever since. He has represented clients in state and federal criminal courts all over the country.

Dennis Kleper has been a leader in developing education and support programs for fellow defense lawyers. He is most proud to have been one of the founding fathers of the innocence project in the early days of DNA evidence.

Anyone who has co-counseled a case with Dennis knows that none of his clients are just case numbers. He becomes personally and passionately devoted to each client’s defense. He was doing holistic defense instinctively long before it became a catch phrase.

Along with his work in NACDL and IICLE, Dennis is a principal coach and teacher with Vistage, an executive counseling service. For many years he and his wife, Ann Louise, have devoted time and energy to Jewish charitable causes here and in Israel. Dennis is also a superb sailor. For over thirty years he has organized regattas and sailing courses with the same enthusiasm he brings to the law.