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Fall 2022 Alumni Newsletter

We are so excited to present you with this fall newsletter to keep you informed about the exciting initiatives at SIU School of Law. We have had a busy semester welcoming our alumni judges back to campus, growing into the Metro East region with our Metro East Criminal Justice Experiential Learning Program, and our faculty have made us proud as always.

SIU LAW is gearing up to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of its founding. SIU Law was established in 1972, and classes began in the fall of 1973. Several events are being planned, and we hope you will join us in the forthcoming celebrations. We hope you are as excited as we are as we prepare to celebrate 50 years of serving the public good.

There are three fundraising priorities for the 50th Anniversary. I have identified these priorities as areas in need of growth and support by our generous alumni. If you would like to become a sponsor of the 50th Anniversary or are interested in giving, please contact Carly Holtkamp

  • Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Initiatives
  • Bar Passage Assistance
  • Facilities & Technology Upgrades

camille davidson
Dean and Professor of Law

Dean Davidson


by Pete Rosenbery

The Southern Illinois University School of Law recognizes its past and applauds its present and future as it kicks off its 50th-anniversary celebration.

Founded in 1973 in the public interest to serve the public good, the law school unveiled its Hall of Judges, which honors the more than 160 SIU Law graduates who have become judges on October 13th.

SIU Chancellor Austin A. Lane and SIU Board of Trustees Chair J. Phil Gilbert, a senior judge for the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois, provided opening remarks. “Judges are public servants,” Dean Camille Davidson said. “As we celebrate 50 years, what better way to honor our legacy than by showcasing all of our alumni who have chosen to serve the public as members of the judiciary?”

Lane said the honored judges are exemplary Salukis. “This Hall of Judges is a visual reminder of the power of imagination,” he said. “As law school students, they imagined a better world and what role they could play to make it a reality. Today, they are servant-leaders in their communities, states, and the nation. I am proud to call them fellow Salukis and excited to honor them.”

Patrick Murphy, retired chief judge for the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois, and Nancy J. Rosenstengel, the current chief judge for the federal judicial district, were featured speakers at the event.

Murphy, a December 1977 law school graduate, chose SIU because it was close to home and the campus was beautiful. Murphy served on the federal bench from 1998 to 2013 and served as chief judge from 2000 to 2007. He continues his legal practice in Marion. “I had a great experience while in law school and received a sound legal education,” he said, noting he took every course taught by then-SIU law professor Don Garner, who was “an excellent and demanding teacher.”

Rosenstengel graduated from law school in 1993. She has served as federal judge since 2014 and chief judge since 2019. The law school’s small class size, location and affordability all factored into her decision to attend. She said students have “many opportunities to obtain an outstanding legal education,” noting a key component continues to be students receiving a practical education. “My legal education gave me strong, practical tools and experiences to practice law and litigate cases,” she said.

The pictorial display is a “visible reminder to our students of the possibilities and opportunities that await them when they graduate from law school,” Davidson said. “SIU Law is known for training attorneys who are ready to hit the ground running. Most of our graduates work in small firms and for the government. These are pipelines to judgeships.”


SIU Law students Jordan Blazek-Guinan (gray suit) and David Voss (blue suit) stand with Circuit Court Judge Zina Cruse (black robe) and Shelly Page, SIU Law experiential education director (next to Cruse). 

Southern Illinois University Carbondale School of Law students David Voss and Jordan Blazek-Guinan are gaining an intimate look into the state’s legal system and taking an active role in criminal legal proceedings.

During the inaugural semester of the law school’s Metro East Criminal Justice Clinic, Voss and Blazek-Guinan are working in the St. Clair County state’s attorney and public defender offices, respectively. The program started in mid-August.

“It is a wonderful program that anyone thinking of pursuing a criminal law career should take,” said Blazek-Guinan. “The experience and learning opportunity are invaluable and just short of actually being an attorney for a semester.”

Under Supreme Court Rule 711, Voss and Blazek-Guinan, both third-year law students, make court appearances, counsel clients, review evidence, present motions, negotiate plea deals and prepare documents. Both will graduate from law school in May 2023 prior to taking bar exams.

“I was surprised at how quickly my supervising attorneys had me talking to defendants, doing plea bargaining and compliance, on my own,” said Voss, who is working in the state’s attorney’s misdemeanor and traffic division. “I enjoy the challenge of it. I was also pleasantly surprised that they have given me cases to argue at trial.”

Few law schools offer this experience

Professor Shelly Page, the law school’s director of experiential education, noted few law schools in the country offer “these types of immersive experiential learning opportunities. We are unique in this regard and want current and prospective students to know that we will do all we can to make sure that they can receive these kinds of experiences.”

Blazek-Guinan and Voss live on the Southwestern Illinois Justice and Workforce Development Campus in Belleville, the former Lindenwood University campus, which is 6 minutes away from the courthouse. In addition to the 9 credit-hour externship, they both take an online law class in a regular class setting.

Retired 20th Judicial Circuit Judge Annette A. Eckert is one of the program’s instructors. Along with experiential learning, Eckert noted the knowledge Blazek-Guinan and Voss are gaining by attending “problem-solving courts” and learning firsthand from judges the alternative ways to handle criminal cases, which allows them to see “the criminal justice system from a wider perspective.”

Blazek-Guinan and Voss have done well as evidenced “by the cases that they have been assigned to work on and the amount and complexity of the hearings and trials they have done in each office,” Eckert said.

Blazek-Guinan hopes to become a public defender after he graduates from law school and passes the bar exam. The program has helped him network with judges, attorneys and the “unique experience” will enhance his resume.

“Without a doubt the experience has helped me become a better attorney without yet becoming one,” said Blazek-Guinan, who hopes to work in Belleville.

Voss, whose goal is to become a state’s attorney, said he is open to becoming a public defender and plans to apply in St. Clair, Cook, and DuPage counties. He said the externship provided essential networking opportunities, adding that he has argued one case at trial and was recently preparing for another bench trial.

Program support

The law school is in the process of selecting students for the spring 2023 semester. In announcing the law school's presence in the Metro East area in August, Dean Camille M. Davidson noted the federal and state court opportunities that would be available to students in both Illinois and Missouri. St. Clair and Madison counties have the largest number of attorneys in Illinois outside of the Chicago area, and Davidson pointed out that SIU Law is the only public law school within about two hours of Belleville.

Page said SIU Law has had “unwavering support from the various court agencies, lawyers, and judges in the entire Metro East area. We have many additional agencies contacting us to be a part of our ‘semester away’ program.”

Page added that the connections the law school established through Eckert have been invaluable, introducing the students to the “problem-solving courts,” comprising a teen court, mental health court, domestic violence court, the veterans’ and service members’ court, and the drug court. The courts take eligible cases and allow the defendants an opportunity to complete specific requirements while in the various programs. The case, along with its court costs and fees, is dismissed if the program is successfully completed.

“These courts give many whom society deems as ‘throw-away’ people, a second chance at life and a chance to get their lives back on track,” Page said. “Our students are able to observe these courts in action in an effort to offer an alternative to sentencing.”

The program’s success will be measured by gauging how SIU Law students are able to enter the legal field after leaving law school, Page said. “This program is designed to prepare our students for the real world as lawyers,” she said. “We pride ourselves on graduating practice-ready lawyers and this immersive program allows them to get their feet wet prior to becoming attorneys.”


Noted environmental and civil justice attorney Jan Schlichtmann shared what he learned from representing families in one of the nation’s earliest environmental and public health lawsuits at the SIU School of Law. 

Schlichtmann’s presentation, “Confessions of an Environmental Warrior: What I learned from the Civil Action odyssey on behalf of the Woburn families,” is the law school’s 2022 Hiram H. Lesar Distinguished Lecture. This was the 25th lecture, and the second for 2022, in the series established to honor founding Dean Hiram H. Lesar.  

Schlichtmann will discuss the 1982 case that involved groundwater contamination from toxic chemicals into the public water supply in Woburn, Massachusetts, and the lessons learned that he applied later in subsequent cases. The Woburn case, settled for $8 million, brought together leading experts in science, medicine and engineering in a then novel multidisciplinary approach in unraveling complex interactions between industrial activities and public health.

Dale Aschemann, a former colleague of Schlichtmann’s and currently assistant professor and director of the law school’s Veterans Legal Assistance Program, said Schlichtmann’s speech  recognized “the existence of power, the nature of power in our system, and inequality that flows from it.” “With that recognition in mind, Jan spoke of the critical – indispensable – role that lawyers play as both leaders and servants in our society. That while lawyers must be advocates for their clients, they must remain mindful that ‘winning at all cost’ is ultimately counter-productive for our legal system and society,” Aschemann said. “At the end of the day, it’s a clarion call for lawyers to bend toward reason and facts over passion and prejudice and, ultimately, to redouble their efforts to conduct themselves with honor and decency.” 



The Southern Illinois University School of Law legal clinic for older adults is the recipient of a 2022 Governor's Engaging Aging Award, presented annually to up to 13 community organizations that have gone above and beyond to make a positive impact in the lives of older adults over the past year.

The clinic provides free legal services to persons aged 60 and older who live in Illinois' 13 southernmost counties.

"I'm thrilled to award the Southern Illinois University School of Law legal clinic for elders with the 2022 Governor's Engaging Aging Award," said Governor JB Pritzker. "This small, but mighty team has provided hundreds of older adults in southern Illinois with the free services they need and deserve as they navigate the complicated legal system. To the law students, attorneys, and staff that make this clinic possible: thank you for your service to Illinois and congratulations on this extraordinary accomplishment."

"Legal services can be costly, especially for retirees living on a fixed income," said IDoA Director Paula Basta. "SIU's elder law clinic makes these services accessible to older adults who otherwise could not afford them, including grandparents raising grandchildren. The clinic takes on a weighty caseload every year, providing a tremendous amount of service across a large geographic region, and I'm so impressed with their work."

Nominated for the Governor's Engaging Aging Award by the Egyptian Area Agency on Aging, the law school's elder law clinic is managed by one attorney, an office manager, and a small team of law students. Their typical cases include drafting wills, powers of attorney for health care and property, and representing clients in guardianship proceedings.

"SIU School of Law was established 50 years ago in the public interest to serve the public good, and for more than 30 years, this clinic has been a part of the law school curriculum," said Camille M. Davidson, SIU School of Law dean. "It provides students with hands-on learning opportunities and serves people who are often marginalized and may not otherwise have access to legal services. It is an honor that Professor O'Neill and her students have received this recognition. I am proud of the work our students and faculty do for the Southern Illinois community."

Egyptian Area Agency on Aging Executive Director Becky Salazar is extremely grateful for the SIU School of Law to be part of the aging network in southern Illinois.

"The legal services provided are of high quality," said Salazar. "SIU usually performs all of the work for their funding in the first month of the fiscal year. The legal provider continues to take as many cases as possible for the entire year, even without full reimbursement for the work performed. Even when the school is technically closed during summer and holidays, SIU has assisted older adults on numerous occasions to ensure older persons would be safe with emergency guardianship assistance and with guardianship for grandchildren when there was concern over the care of the children."


Professor Chris Behan was part of a team that taught courtroom advocacy skills to attorneys from the Office of the Public Defender in Lagos, Nigeria. Sponsored by the National Institute for Trial Advocacy, Lawyers Without Borders, and the Jones Day Law Firm, faculty members from Nigeria, Kenya, and the United States worked with approximately 80 Nigerian public defenders on witness examination techniques, presentation of forensic science experts, and restorative justice practices. The course ran from October 30 to November 5.


Working to diversify the legal profession: Camille Davidson, center, dean of the SIU School of Law, holds an agreement will enable students from Tougaloo College, a historically Black liberal arts college, to enroll in a dual degree program where they have an opportunity to complete both their bachelor’s degree and law degree in six years. With Davidson are, left, Alicia Jones, law school associate dean, and Sheila Simon, law school associate professor.

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Southern Illinois University Carbondale and Tougaloo College on Oct. 17 signed an agreement to help students from the private, historically Black liberal arts college enroll and earn a degree from the SIU School of Law, with the aim of diversifying the legal profession.

The law school and Tougaloo College, a 900-student institution in Tougaloo, Mississippi, entered into a 3+3 dual degree program agreement for qualified college students. Successful students will have the opportunity to complete both their bachelor’s degree and law degree in six years.

This is SIU School of Law’s third agreement with a historically Black college or university, or a minority-serving institution to create pathways to advanced degree completion and diversify the pipeline to the legal community. It is similar to a 3+3 program for SIU students.

According to the American Bar Association, 14% of all lawyers in 2020 were Black, Hispanic, Asian, Native American or of mixed race. Only 5% of attorneys were Black, compared to 13.4% of the population.

The latest agreement continues the law school’s efforts to become more diverse, School of Law Dean Camille Davidson said. It fits well with the university’s strategic plan, Imagine 2030, which includes a pillar to improve diversity, equity and inclusion.

“SIU Carbondale has a long history of inclusivity, and I am excited that this agreement with Tougaloo furthers that mission,” Davidson said. “It is important for society to continue working toward real access to justice and training attorneys from various backgrounds. We trust a justice system when we see ourselves as advocates and decision-makers. This agreement is another step in ensuring that students, including those from underrepresented populations, have the opportunity to reach their goals in the legal profession.”

As part of the agreement, Tougaloo students complete the application to enroll in the dual degree program no later than the end of their freshman year and maintain a minimum 3.4 GPA. Program candidates must complete three-fourths of the course work required for a bachelor’s degree from Tougaloo College and all of their major and thesis requirements by the end of their junior year. Students may be allowed to count up to 30 credit hours from SIU toward their bachelor’s degree.

Tougaloo College President Carmen J. Walters, lower box, talks with SIU School of Law officials during an Oct. 17 virtual signing ceremony.

“Since its founding 153 years ago, Tougaloo College has been committed to providing equal access to education for all. Historically underrepresented students need to know that obtaining a degree from a top-tier law school like SIU Carbondale is accessible, attainable and achievable,” said Tougaloo College President Carmen J. Walters. “HBCUs are powerhouses for African American talent. This partnership will connect our best and brightest scholars to SIU Carbondale to study in a safe, vibrant and inclusive environment where they can thrive and survive. In addition, this partnership helps us move ever closer toward addressing disparities in representation across race, gender and ethnicity outlined in our 2021-2026 strategic plan, ‘Preserving the Past, Advancing Tomorrow.’”

Tougaloo students will also have access to SIU Law’s Diversity Prelaw Summer Institute, which helps high achieving juniors and seniors from colleges around the country gained insight on legal careers and preparing for law school.

Students receive assistance to prepare for the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) while honing skills necessary for law school, such as understanding how to read and analyze cases. In addition, students take field trips and interact with lawyers, law students and law school faculty.

About Tougaloo College
Tougaloo College is globally recognized for its academic excellence and social commitment. Since its founding in 1869, the College has maintained its rich history and deep roots within the social justice framework providing significant contributions of advocates, activists, and scholars to the world. Its legacy of distinction in higher education is centered around the high-quality liberal arts studies curriculum and being among the top 25 U.S institutions whose graduates go on to graduate or professional school. Its greatest mission is to prepare students to be lifelong learners who are committed to leadership and service in a global society. 



Intramural Moot Court Competition was held September 23-24 and September 30 -October 1.  The students were excited to participate and hear from sitting attorneys and judges as they developed their courtroom advocacy skills. Congratulations to all the winners, Semi-finalists Hailiee Hinthorne, Michael Keeney, Taylor Ingram and Jessica Bowdler; Second Best Brief Dakotah Hubler & Lauren Ozenkoski and Best Brief Sean McDowell & Nicholas Limentato; Third Place Oralist Hannah Huber, Second Place Nicholas Limentato, Best Oralist Michael Keeney; Final round teams Katharine Bauer & Alicia Bridges and Dakotah Hubler & Lauren Ozenkoski;  Champion team Dakotah Hubler and Lauren Ozenkoski.

Thanks to the alumni judges who participated in judging. We appreciate your input and time to make this a successful competition!


Dean Camille Davidson and SIU LAW Alums celebrated Homecoming with a tailgate on October 15 and a football game with the Salukis defeating Western Illinois!


SIU couple Ella & Jonathan gave back to their alma mater by helping students get to know Carbondale through our "Dinner with 12" program. It's simple. You take a group of fun students to dinner or host them at your home. The conversation and the connections go from there This is meant to be a relaxed evening where these students get to network with a pro like you! Everyone has a good time, we've seen that first hand. The dinners will be held March 24th and 25th, 2023.

Click here to learn more about the program!

F A C U L T Y   S P O T L I G H T


Professor Angela Upchurch’s recent research has reflected on the lessons that can be learned from the COVID-19 pandemic.  Her upcoming article, Parenting in a Post-Pandemic World: The Impact of COVID-19 on Child Custody Disputes, will be published in the Elon Law Review in 2023. In this article, Professor Upchurch examines how family courts across the country resolved contested custody modification proceedings during the pandemic.  The article proposes revisions to family law code and provides recommendations for family law judges making custodial decisions during large-scale destabilizing events.

In September, she presented her research at the Elon Law Review Symposium: The Law and COVID. The 2022 Elon Law Review Symposium took place virtually on September 23, with legal leaders, scholars, and advocates exploring and discussing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the administration of justice.

The COVID-19 pandemic also impacted legal education. Professor Upchurch presented some of the classroom strategies she employed during the pandemic to a national audience of legal educators at the AALS Section on Technology, Law and Legal Education Webinar Series.  Her presentation, Engaging Students in Hybrid Classes, focused on enhancing student engagement in classes delivered simultaneously through in-person and online modalities.   Professor Upchurch drew upon her experience as an author of an online textbook, Click & Learn: Civil Procedure, and flipped classroom teaching to develop her approach to hybrid education.

Read more about Professor Upchurch here.

U P C O M I N G  E V E N T S


Please Join Dean Camille Davidson and the
SIU School of Law for a
Holiday Reception
in Belleville
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 7, 2022 5:00 - 7:00 PM

S. 23rd Street | Belleville, IL 62220


Please Join Dean Camille Davidson and the
SIU School of Law for a
Holiday Reception
in Chicago

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 8, 2022 5:00 - 7:00 PM

79 W. Monroe Street, 14th Floor, Chicago, IL 60603



The Southern Illinois University School of Law is hosting the second Diversity Prelaw Summer Institute on May 21-20 in Carbondale, Illinois. The Diversity Prelaw Summer Institute operates for and benefits diverse college and university rising juniors and seniors who desire information and strategies to prepare for law school. Participants will learn about the application and admissions process, the Law School Admissions Test, how to properly read and review a case, legal writing, paying for law school, and various career paths. Institute attendees will interact with and have presentations and discussions facilitated by lawyers, law students, and law school faculty.  

Participants will also take field trips to the Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, TN, and the St. Louis law firm, Armstrong Teasdale, as well as visit a courthouse. All participants will also be granted free access to an online LSAT prep course following the institute.  

A full agenda and application can be found here.  Applications are due March 15, 2023.  

The Program Coordinator for the summer institute is SIU Carbondale Law School graduate Deidre Powell (’21). Powell is an associate at Armstrong Teasdale in their litigation practice group.  

This inaugural program is possible because of the generous support of School of Law alum,  Kyle Stokien (’04) and the St. Louis Bar Foundation. Stokien, who is the Managing Director of Executive Financial Management at Goldman Sachs, took advantage of the Goldman Sachs Matching Gift Program.  He donated $12,500 and Goldman Sachs matched his gift, creating a $25,000 donation for the Summer Institute. Stokien wants to encourage his fellow alumni to check whether or not their company has corporate matching.  The St. Louis Bar Foundation, the charitable arm of The Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis also awarded the School of Law a grant for $1,500 written by Cindy Walker from the SIU Foundation. 


We Need YOU for Future Newsletter Topics and Submissions 

Please feel encouraged to send us your updates for future newsletters.  Specifically, we want to know about your professional accomplishments and publications so that we can publish a future section detailing the accomplishments of each graduation class.  We also want to know about the future Saluki Lawyers that you bring into the world as well as celebrating the lives of alumni who have passed. Please send all updates to