Featured Alumni Activities | School of Law | SIU

Southern Illinois University



Featured Alumni Activities

Willie Lyles III

Class of 2017

Willie Lyles, III is an Associate at Hepler Broom LLC in St. Louis, licensed to practice law in Missouri.  He focuses his practice on cases involving civil litigation matters, including insurance law, personal injury, and auto accidents.  

At SIU School of Law, he was an active student leader, not only supporting law school projects, but serving the SIU Carbondale campus as a whole as Vice President for the Graduate and Professional Student Council.  An expert in public policy, he received his specialization in health law, served on a health law panel on the future of the Affordable Care Act, and received numerous awards upon graduation, including the Mike Lawrence Scholarship from the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute.  He was named to the list of the Top 25 Law Students of the Year in 2017 by The National Jurist magazine.  As a member of the SIU Moot Court Program, he was one of four finalists at the 2017 Asylum and Refugee Law National Moot Court Competition at UC Davis School of Law.  Prior to attending law school, Mr. Lyles served as a legislative assistant for several years to Congressman James E. Clyburn of South Carolina, Assistant Democratic Leader, the third ranking Democratic Leader in the House of Representatives.  He also worked for 18 months as Deputy Chief of Staff/Legislative Director for the Honorable William L. Enyart of the U.S. House of Representatives.  Mr. Lyles received his undergraduate degree in Political Science from Winthrop University.

 To read more about Mr. Lyles at Hepler Broom click here

Kate Jamruk

Class of 2016

Kate Jamruk is the Retiree Program Coordinator of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees for Council 31 in Illinois.  She is also the Vice President of the Illinois Alliance of Retired Americans.  She conducts legislative monitoring and advocacy, advising members on matters such as health insurance and pension protection and reform.  See http://www.dailyregister.com/news/20170327/state-retirees-get-updates

In law school at SIU, Jamruk was an active health law student, serving on the editorial board of the Journal of Legal Medicine and as President of the Law and Medicine Society.  Her internships focused on public health law and government, including a position as a Legislative Legal Extern at the Office of the Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives, and as a Legal Intern at the Illinois Department of Public Health in Springfield.

She received her B.A. from SIU Edwardsville in Forensic Anthropology and her J.D. from SIU School of Law in Carbondale, IL.

Angela Rollins

Class of 2012

Angela Rollins currently serves as a Federal Public Defender in Tallahassee, FL, in the Capital Habeas Unit.

As a law student at SIU, she provided substantial public interest service and was awarded the Illinois State Bar Association Law Student Division Public Service Award in 2011.  She focused on the criminal justice system and public health and safety, working in the SIU Domestic Violence Clinic for two years, as well as with the Illinois Innocence Project and the Federal Public Defender’s Office.  She received the SIU School of Law Public Interest Award in 2010.

An avid writer in law school, where she served as the Survey Editor of the Southern Illinois University Law Journal, Ms. Rollins continues to engage in scholarly endeavors.  In 2014, she won the Lincoln Award Legal Writing Contest sponsored by the Illinois State Bar Association, which published her article, entitled “Collateral Consequence Considerations for Illinois Practitioners after Padilla v. Kentucky.”

Ms. Rollins is a four time SIU alumna, earning her Bachelor of Arts in Classics in 2002, Bachelor of Arts in Science in Paralegal Studies in 2006, Juris Doctor in 2012, and Graduate Certificate in Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies in 2012, all at SIU.

Since graduating from law school, Ms. Rollins has been a Law Clerk to the Honorable J. Phil Gilbert at the United States District Court in Benton, Illinois.  She also teaches as a Lecturer in Criminology and Criminal Justice and Paralegal Studies Departments of SIU Carbondale, and is a member of the Jackson County Bar Association.

Jonathan Ingram

Class of 2011

Jonathan Ingram was appointed for a three-year term to the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board by Governor Bruce Rauner in 2016.

Ingram is currently the Vice President of Research at the Foundation for Government Accountability where he researches and develops best practices for health care and welfare policy. He is also a senior fellow at the Illinois Policy Institute.

Ingram graduated from MacMurray College with a degree in history and English. He received his J.D. from Southern Illinois University School of Law.

Sameer Vohra JD/MD

Class of 2011

Sameer Vohra is the Executive Director of the new SIU School of Medicine Office of Population Science and Policy.  He is an Assistant Professor of Clinical Pediatrics and Medical Humanities at SIU School of Medicine in Springfield, and is cross-appointed as a member of the faculty at SIU School of Law.  He received his JD and MD degrees as a dual degree student from SIU School of Law and SIU School of Medicine in 2011. 

He was as a Fulbright Scholar in India with the U.S. Department of State in 2009.  In 2014, he received the American Medical Association Foundation Excellence in Medicine Leadership Award.  In 2016, he was named an Edgar Fellow for political and policy leadership in Illinois. 

Dr. Vohra was recently selected as one of the 'Forty Under 40' leaders of 2017 by the Springfield Business Journal.

Jennifer Walsh Hammer

Class of 2008

Jennifer Hammer was named the new Director of the Illinois Department of Insurance by Governor Bruce Rauner in January 2017.  She formerly served as Special Counsel on health agency matters and Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy for Governor Rauner.  She has also worked as a Policy Advisor for the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Human Services.  She practiced insurance defense for the Springfield-based law firm Giffin, Winning, Cohen & Bodewes, P.C.  In addition, Hammer served as the Executive Director of the Healthcare Council for the Illinois Chamber of Commerce. 

As part of her professional service, she was a President of the Central Illinois Women’s Bar Association and Director at Large of the Illinois Government Bar Association. 

She was awarded the Forty Under 40 Award by the Springfield Business Journal in 2012.  In 2011, she was named one of the top Women to Watch, by Today’s Chicago Woman.

Hammer graduated from SIU School of Law in 2008.  During law school, she had externship placements at the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation in estate planning; the Sangamon County State’s Attorney’s office; Heyl, Royster, Voelker & Allen in Springfield; and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity in Springfield.

Steven D. Davis

Class of 2003

TorHoerman Law LLC
101 West Vandalia Street, Suite 350
Edwardsville, IL 62025

Practice Areas: Personal Injury - Products: Plaintiff (60%), Personal Injury - Medical Malpractice: Plaintiff (20%), Personal Injury - General: Plaintiff (20%) 

SIU Law alumnus Steven Davis has been selected as a “Rising Star” by Super Lawyers Magazine in 2012, 2013, and 2014.  

He represents people injured by the wrongful acts of pharmaceutical companies in the development and marketing of dangerous drugs and medical devices. He currently represents individuals suffering serious injuries caused by use of prescription medication such as Pradaxa, including a role as co-liaison counsel for plaintiffs in the Pradaxa MDL, and various anti-depressants, as well as individuals harmed by other drugs and defective medical devices.  In his work at TorHoerman Law, He fights for the rights of victims harmed by pharmaceutical, medical device, and chemical corporations when they put consumer safety behind their own profit goals.

  •  Admitted to Illinois Bar (2003), Missouri Bar, and California Bar
  • Southern Illinois University School of Law, J.D. (2003)
  • Southern Illinois University - Carbondale IL, BS - Honors, Magna Cum Laude (2000)

Selected Scholarly Lectures and Writings:

  • Zoloft Litigation Continues to Move Forward, 2013
  • Pradaxa v. Warfarin: The Rest of the Story, 2013
  • FDA Warns Clinicians Against Prescribing Pradaxa to Patients with Heart Valves, 2012.
  • FDA Safety Announcement for Pradaxa Ignores Lack of Reversal Agent, 2012
  • Speaker, Seminar on Handling the Pradaxa Claim: Damages, American Association for Justice, 2012

Vikas S. Dhar

Class of 2003

In 2010, I founded Dhar Law, LLP in Boston, where our primary focus was to further our profession and the cause of justice.  My brother, Vilas, and I formed our firm in with a specific vision – to merge the litigation practice that I developed from several years as a partner with a boutique Boston firm with his expertise in technology and transactional work as a corporate attorney.  By pooling our collective talents and resources, we expected to contribute a substantial portion of our practices to “community lawyering” – working directly with local, national and international groups to provide expert legal assistance to various non-profit initiatives and in performing varied pro bono work. This concept was fueled by my time at SIU, and the law school's tradition of being "established in the public interest, serving the public good."  In fact, my last line in giving the 2003 School of Law graduation speech was quoting SIU Law's mission statement!

As a bit more background, in our first year, we have found that our vision has been extremely attractive to both established and new attorneys - we have grown our firm to nearly 20 personnel. In the process, we have reinforced in our attorneys a commitment to engage with our communities on a daily basis - whether through providing pro bono legal services, by supporting local neighborhood and town organizations, by providing assistance to new arts programs, or by helping entrepreneurs build community businesses.  Our pro bono clients include organizations focusing on urban redevelopment, global health NGO's, indigent clients without access to counsel and asylum applicants, and non-commercial organizations pushing the frontiers of technology research.

We were recently requested to advise School of Leadership-Afghanistan (SOLA), an organization whose goal is to prepare Afghan students for study in the U.S., placing special emphasis on creating necessary conditions for ambitious young women to pursue their studies. We also represent the Milana Foundation, a non-profit aimed at raising the social and economic status of impoverished people in India.  Vilas recently lead a firm trip to Haiti, advising NGOs and governmental institutions on best practices for fair and democratic elections and associated rule of law work.  I will be joining him in traveling to Rwanda and Kenya early this summer for similar work and to establish micro-finance ventures. 

Diane Goffinet

Class of 1992

Diane M. Goffinet, is a 1992, graduate of Southern Illinois University School of Law.  Her first job out of law school was as a federal law clerk for Honorable J. Phil Gilbert in the US District Court for the Southern District of Illinois. In 1994, after 2 years in that position, Diane joined the staff of Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance Foundation, Inc. where she has remained since. 

As of February 2017, Diane M. Goffinet is the Managing Attorney of the Southern Regional Office of Land of Lincoln, located in Carbondale, Illinois. In this position, Diane manages a staff of 9 staff attorneys including herself, 3 support staff, one paralegal and a variety of law student interns.  The service territory of the SRO is 23 counties all of which have people living in desperate poverty with a variety of legal issues.

Prior to this promotion, Diane was the co-founder and Legal Champion of the Medical-Legal Partnership of Southern Illinois.  Founded in 2002, MLPSI was one of the first medical-legal partnerships nationally to be located in a predominantly rural area and has gained national recognition for its case tracking and data analysis.

The motto of MLPSI since its inception has been to improve health outcomes by alleviating legal stressors. In 2012, MLPSI received the Outstanding MLP Award from the National Center for Medical-Legal Partnerships. Due to her success in this position, in 2014, Diane was named the Senior Supervisory Attorney for Medical-Legal Partnerships for all of Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance Foundation, Inc. As Supervising Attorney for MLPs she is tasked with the propagation of MLPs throughout the lower 65 counties of the state of Illinois.

In her legal practice, Diane deals primary with health and welfare issues, but also works in family law, consumer and estate law as well.  

Kathy PIne

Class of 1982

Sandberg, Phoenix & von Gontard P.C.
2015 West Main – Suite 111
Carbondale, IL 62901

Alumna Kathleen L. Pine has been an attorney at Sandberg Phoenix & von Gontard since 1984 and a shareholder since 1989.  The firm employs over 100 attorneys, and has several offices in Illinois, Missouri, and Kansas, representing clients across the United States.  Consistently rated one of the St. Louis area’s top law firms, Sandberg Phoenix was recently ranked a Top-Tier 1 law firm in the categories of Health Care Law, Medical Malpractice and Professional Malpractice by U.S. News & World Report’s Best Law Firms.

Ms. Pine has almost thirty years of experience representing hospitals and physicians in medical malpractice cases in Illinois and Missouri.  She earned her J.D., cum laude from SIU School of Law in 1982, and her B.A., with high honors, from Illinois State University in 1978.

In 2003, Ms. Pine opened Sandberg Phoenix’s first branch office in Carbondale, Illinois. The Sandberg Phoenix Southern Illinois office serves central and southern Illinois law by offering Legal Advice and defense to businesses, hospitals and physicians. She is the Managing Partner of Sandberg Phoenix’s Southern Illinois office in Carbondale and is licensed to practice in Illinois and Missouri.

She is a member of the Illinois State Bar Association, the Missouri Bar Association and the Jackson County Bar Association. She is also an active member and past President of the Southern Illinois Inn of Court, and a member of her firm’s Diversity Committee where she enjoys assisting with the ISBA Law and Leadership program for young people at SIU School of Law.  Ms. Pine serves on the Board of Directors of The Women’s Center Inc. in Carbondale, which is dedicated to stopping family violence, and she is also a member of the board of the SIU School of Art & Design’s Art and Advisory Board.  She frequently serves as a judge for law student moot court competitions, including the National Health Law Moot Court Competition at SIU School of Law.

In two recent articles, she was asked to reflect on the legal profession.

She spoke to the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism about her almost 30-year career representing doctors, hospitals, nurses and other employees; and she spoke with the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin about what she learned about legal and medical professionals during SIU Law's recent CLE/CME program in Germany.

Read the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin article here.

Read her interview with Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism here.