A Believer in Second Chances

Nicole DeBorde knows the other side—she was on it for almost a decade

Published in 2010 Texas Rising Stars — April 2010

In 2002, after eight years as an assistant district attorney with Harris County, Nicole DeBorde had an intimate knowledge of the tricks of the trade. Now that she has her own criminal defense practice, she uses this knowledge to stay one step ahead of her opponents.

The decision to leave the DA’s office was hard for DeBorde, but it’s a change she’s glad she made. “I liked what I was doing, but it was time to move on and to grow a little bit. When I actually got out, I loved it,” she says. Now she defends the same people she once prosecuted, which is not as hard a transition as it sounds. “It’s surprisingly comfortable because you really feel like you’re doing the right thing,” she says. “You’re out there trying to fix people’s lives and give them a second chance.”

Now that DeBorde is on the defense side, she is able to explore her cases more fully. “I realized as a DA you’re really operating with one hand tied behind your back,” she says. “You don’t have access a lot of times to talk to the people who were actually involved.”

DeBorde’s motto is “dig, dig, dig.” She constantly double-checks information, searches for incorrect data and requestions witnesses to find that one piece of information that helps her client. “Don’t stop digging until there’s just no more time to dig,” she says.

After defending clients against charges in all kinds of criminal cases, including murder, rape and drug trafficking, it can be hard for her to wind down at the end of the day. But spending time with her family lets her redirect her focus onto them. Spending her days around people who may never see their families again gives her perspective.

“It makes getting up a little earlier, or staying up a little later to do those class cookies, just a little easier,” she says. “Because you realize how many people don’t have that chance.”

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