Prof. Kionka received his Juris Doctor degree from the University of Illinois College of Law. He was a member of the Order of the Coif, an honorary society chosen from the top ten percent of his class. He was on the board of editors of the law review, and during his senior year served as Associate Editor. During his second and third years, he clerked for a nationally-known attorney, John Alan Appleman, assisting with his 26-volume treatise, Appleman on Insurance, and on other matters.
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), he
was selected by Dean Hiram Lesar as a member of the founding faculty at 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. He served as Associate Dean (1984-85) and briefly as Acting Dean (Summer 1985).
His primary fields are torts, evidence, civil procedure, federal courts, and appellate courts and practice.
Prof. Kionka has been a visiting professor, both before and after his retirement from S.I.U., at a dozen different law schools, including Washington University (St. Louis), St. Louis University, Emory University (Atlanta), McGeorge School of Law (Sacramento), the University of San Diego, Golden Gate (San Francisco) the University of Hawaii, the University of Georgia, Northern Illinois University, 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 eduction, he returned to the practice of law in 1971 as a partner in a Belleville, Illinois law firm, Norton and Kionka, that limited its practice to civil litigation. He left in 1972 to return to his academic career, but he continued his association with the firm, a relationship that continued until Jack Norton's death in 1993. Prof. Kionka was responsible for all the firm's appellate work, and also performed significant legal work at the trial level. He soon began doing appellate work and trial consulting for other law firms.
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, and so his appellate practice continued throughout his teaching career. Since his retirement from S.I.U. School of Law in 2003, he has continued his appellate and trial consulting practice.
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; all Illinois federal district courts; and the State of Missouri.
He has been chosen by his fellow Illinois attorneys for designation as a Leading Lawyer in the field of Civil Appellate Law. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Appellate Lawyers, and a member and past president of the Appellate Lawyers Association.
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, now named the Lindblom Math & Science Academy.