Debbie G. Kleven

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Debbie G. Kleven

Grand Forks, North Dakota



Debbie joined Vogel Law Firm in 2016, after retiring as a North Dakota District Judge. She practices in the areas of estate planning, elder law, farm and business succession, alternative dispute resolution and mediation.

Debbie was first elected Grand Forks County Judge in 1990. After serving four years as a county judge, she was elected district judge in 1994, 1996, 2002, 2008, and 2014. From 2004 until her retirement in 2016, Debbie served a judge in Grand Forks County and Nelson County where she presided over thousands of cases including felony and misdemeanor criminal, divorce, child custody, estate, guardianship and conservatorship, real estate, collections, personal injury, eminent domain, and juvenile. Additionally, she successfully mediated legal actions involving divorce and custody, collections, personal injury, contract, defamation, and property.

Debbie graduated from the University of North Dakota School of Law, with distinction, in 1983. Prior to being elected judge, she worked in private practice with a Grand Forks law firm and was an Assistant State’s Attorney in Grand Forks, ND.

Debbie is an active member of the legal community having served as a Surrogate Judge with the North Dakota Supreme Court, Presiding Judge of the Northeast Central Judicial District, President of the North Dakota Judge’s Association, and as a member of the North Dakota State Bar Association and Grand Forks County Bar Association. Additionally, she chaired the North Dakota Indigent Defense Committee and Juvenile Policy Board, served a member on over ten North Dakota Supreme Court committees, served as District 10 Director of the National Association of Women Judge, and as a Director of North Dakota Association of Counties.

Debbie has been active in the communities of Grand Forks and Larimore. She is a former board member of the Grand Forks Community Foundation, founding member of the Women’s Fund, and former member of the Grand Forks Exchange Club. In the Larimore community, Debbie served on the Larimore Golf Course Board of Directors, past president and lifetime member of the Larimore Polar Bear Booster Club, former president and council member of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church of Honeyford, former member of Turtle River Ministry Council, Sunday and Vacation Bible School teacher, and youth soccer coach.

Debbie and her husband, Paul, reside on a third generation farm near Larimore, ND. They have two adult sons, Kyle and Kory. In their spare time they enjoy fishing on Devils Lake, traveling, attending sporting events, and all types of outdoor activities.

Practice Areas

  • Alternative Dispute Resolution and Mediation
  • Estate Planning and Probate

Admitted to Practice

  • North Dakota, 1983


  • North Dakota State Bar Association
  • Grand Forks County Bar Association
  • North Dakota Judge’s Association, President
  • North Dakota Indigent Defense Committee, Chair
  • Juvenile Policy Board, Chair
  • National Association of Women Judge, District 10 Director
  • North Dakota Association of Counties, Director
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