Prof. Kionka received his Juris Doctor degree from the University of Illinois College of Law in 1962. He was selected for membership in the Order of the Coif, an honorary society chosen from the top ten percent of his class. He was a member of the board of editors of the law review, and during his senior year served as its Associate Editor (second to the editor-in-chief). While in law school, he clerked for a nationally-known attorney, John Alan Appleman, assisting Mr. Appleman with his 26-volume treatise, Appleman on Insurance.
He spent the 1972-73 academic year in residence at Columbia University Law School in New York, where he was the Krulewitch Fellow. He received his Master of Laws degree from Columbia in 1974.
After serving as Assistant Dean and Assistant Professor of Law at the University of Illinois College of Law from 1967 to 1971, and as an Instructor at the University of Michigan Law School (1964-65) and at Columbia University Law School (1962), Prof. Kionka was selected by Dean Hiram Lesar as a member of the founding faculty of Southern Illinois University School of Law, where he taught from 1973 (teaching the first class ever held in the law school) until he retired from S.I.U. in 2003. From 2003 to 2012, he taught as a visiting professor at other law schools, and he continues his legal research and writing of law books and articles. His primary fields are torts, evidence, federal courts, and appellate courts and practice. In addition, he has taught civil procedure, insurance law, legal writing, advanced appellate advocacy, remedies, and the legal profession. He served for a year as Associate Dean (1984-85), and briefly as Acting Dean (Summer 1985) at S.I.U. Law School.
Prof. Kionka has also been a visiting professor at various law schools, including Washington University (St. Louis), St. Louis University, Emory University, McGeorge School of Law, the University of San Diego, the University of Hawaii, Northern Illinois University, The University of Georgia, Stetson University, and Florida A&M University.
From 1962 to 1964, Prof. Kionka was an associate with a Chicago law firm. After a period in legal education, he returned to the practice of law in 1971 as a partner in a Belleville, Illinois law firm, Norton & Kionka. The firm limited its practice to civil litigation on behalf of plaintiffs. Although he left in 1972 to return to his academic career, he continued his association with the firm, a relationship that continued until Jack Norton’s death in May, 1993. Prof. Kionka was responsible for all of the firm’s appellate work, and also performed significant legal work at the trial level, including pleadings, motions, evidence, jury instructions, and the like. He also did similar work for other attorneys and law firms.
Prof. Kionka began doing appeals and trial consulting in 1969, and continued during and after his association with Jack Norton. Although he returned to full-time law teaching in 1973, he was permitted by the law schools’ rules to engage in a limited amount of consulting work. Upon retirement from full-time law teaching in 2003, he has continued his part-time practice, still limiting his practice to appeals and trial consulting.
Prof. Kionka was admitted to the Illinois Bar in 1962. He has since been admitted to practice in the Supreme Court of the United States; the United States Courts of Appeals for the Fifth, Seventh, Eighth, and Tenth Circuits; and all Illinois federal district courts.
Professor Kionka has been chosen by his fellow Illinois attorneys for designation as a Leading Lawyer in the field of Civil Appellate Law. He serves as a member of the Leading Lawyers Network Advisory Board. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Appellate Lawyers.
Prof. Kionka was born in Oak Park, Illinois, and grew up in the City of Chicago and suburbs. He graduated from Lindblom High School in Chicago, and received his Bachelor of Science and Juris Doctor degrees from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He and his wife, Terri, an historian, live in Illinois.