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James L. Rubens



Contact Information

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James L. Rubens is recognized for his skill and acumen at handling extremely complex and contentious family law disputes for prominent figures and high net worth individuals.  He credits his keen sense of divorce law, excellent track record as a litigator and proven financial and business expertise, in part, to his background in the elite Homicide Task Force in the Cook County Public Defender’s office.

The challenging nature of felony defense sharpened his skills in litigation and negotiation, and heightened his ability to assess human nature and calculate outcomes. Today Mr. Rubens uses his experience, trial skills, and family law expertise to resolve the wide range of issues involved in contested divorce, complex division of assets, child and spousal support, child custody litigation, business valuations and collaborative divorce cases.

Thanks to his experience, Mr. Rubens maintains that divorce is the most high-stakes type of litigation. He offers perceptive advice and empathizes with each of his clients.  “I’ve always been for the underdog, and in a divorce, everybody thinks they’re the underdog.  We’re dealing with the most emotional, personal relationships, and there has to be respect by on, and for, both sides in divorce. The future of a family is worth fighting for and settling in an equitable manner for all parties involved is often the best result.”

Mr. Rubens also brings a sophisticated holistic outlook to his family law practice, recognizing that it is a multifaceted area that may not only incorporate business law, real estate, taxation and partnerships but even personal injury and criminal law. “Every marital relationship and divorce has its own unique issues and constraints, but addressing all of these elements and dynamics within the boundaries of the legal system often makes cases extremely challenging to navigate and resolve.”

One of Mr. Rubens biggest challenges is the time it takes to resolve a divorce or child custody case. “ If one spouse or attorney wants to purposely make the case take longer, he or she can. It’s very frustrating, and my goal for my clients is to find strategies to avert groundless exercises that hurt children,” Mr. Rubens explains. He takes deep satisfaction in winning custody cases that ensure children’s happiness and health for years to come.

Mr. Rubens is also an acknowledged leader in the area of collaborative law, and is working on refining and implementing a model for this practice area that is fairly new in Illinois.“There is a huge lack of trust between parties in a divorce, so anything that improves transparency makes for fairer settlements—that’s what collaborative law does,” he explains. “Both sides approach a case with the expressed goal of avoiding litigation. It’s a very different approach to divorce, beginning with a contract signed by everyone involved. Either party can terminate the process at any point. If successful, the end result is more amicable and less costly for both sides than litigation.”

However, he is realistic when it comes to assessing its potential and using this tool.  “Collaborative law will not work for everyone.  When client or attorney biases get in the way of good judgment, everyone loses,” he cautions. “But in the vast majority of cases, a settlement is the best possible result.” However, if a case does need to be litigated, Mr. Rubens is prepared to do all that is necessary to prevail.

Mr. Rubens feels strongly about improving lawyers’ skills and the quality of litigation in family law through teaching, writing and mentoring. “At Davis Friedman, we have an advantage because we’re recognized for having the most respected family law attorneys in the Chicago area, not only by opposing counsel but also judges,” Mr. Rubens says.

Mr. Rubens devotes great effort to programs that foster and broaden Davis Friedman’s trusted reputation. He has been active in expanding the firm’s renowned family law practice, establishing a rigorous and effective firm-wide mentoring program for its associates and creating formative in-house continuing legal education seminars. “Our goal is to give our attorneys the skills and tools they need to be successful to represent each client to the fullest.  To achieve that we inspire them to strive to be better in all aspects of family law though the programs and system of checks and balances we’ve implemented at Davis Friedman,” Rubens explains.

Education & Publication


After specializing in felony defense in the elite Homicide Task Force in the Cook County Public Defender’s office, James L. Rubens found his calling at Davis Friedman. With a legal career spanning four decades, Mr. Rubens leverages his litigation skills to help clients resolve their high net worth divorce, complex financial estate cases, child custody litigation, and collaborative law cases.


  • Kenyon College; University of Illinois, B.A., 1976
  • DePaul University Law School, J.D., 1979


  • Admitted to Illinois State Bar, 1979
  • Admitted to the Northern District of Illinois, 1979

Honors and Awards

  • Listed 2021 Top Lawyers In The Midwest
  • Listed 2021 Lawyers in America©
  • Listed in Leading Lawyers of Illinois
  • Named in the top 8% of Illinois Lawyers, 1996
  • Listed in Super Lawyers
  • Listed in Who’s Who Among Law Professionals
  • Listed in Chicago Lawyer Top Lawyers in Illinois
  • Martindale Hubbell AV rating
  • Illinois Super Lawyers 2023
  • Listed in 2024 Lawdragon 500 Leading Family Lawyers | Lawdragon

Community Involvement

  • Member, Board of Directors, Envision Unlimited, 2012-2014
  • Member, Board of Directors, American Jewish Committee, 2004, 2005
  • Member, Board of Directors, Young Men’s Jewish Council, 1982


  • Lecturer for American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers
  • Lecturer, Illinois State Bar Association
  • Lecturer, Illinois Institute of Continuing Legal Education
  • Lecturer, Chicago Bar Association

Articles and Publications

  • Co-Author with Muller Davis and Jody Meyer Yazici, The Illinois Practice of Family Law¸ 2012-2013 edition, 2 volume book
  • Co-Editor, ISBA Family Law Section Newsletter, 1994
  • Contributor, Illinois Institute of Continuing Legal Education (IICLE)
  • Contributor, Chicago Bar Association
  • Contributor, National Business Institute, Illinois State Bar Association
  • Contributor, American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers
  • Contributor, DePaul University College of Law

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