Professional Experience

A past president of the Illinois State Bar Association, Mr. Thies concentrates his practice in the areas of business representation, litigation, real estate, alternative dispute resolution, alternative energy, employment, and insurance. He has a broad range of experience, which includes the litigation of matters throughout the state of Illinois, from trial courts to the Illinois Supreme Court.

Representative cases include serving as co-counsel on behalf of the successful appellant in two significant Illinois Consumer Fraud Act putative class actions litigated in the Illinois Supreme Court, Shannon v. Boise Cascade Corporation, 208 Ill.2d 517, 805 N.E.2d 213, and Oliveira v. Amoco Oil Company, 201 Ill.2d 134, 776 N.E.2d 151.  In the area of labor and employment, Mr. Thies successfully litigated (and was lead counsel in) the case of Mills v. Health Care Service Corporation, 171 F.3d 450 in the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, which established new law in the area of reverse gender discrimination. The Mills case has been cited hundreds of times across the nation.

Besides practicing before federal and state courts, Mr. Thies also practices before a number of administrative bodies including the Illinois Human Rights Commission, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the National Labor Relations Board, and similar labor/management forums. He has also counseled clients in labor negotiations. Mr. Thies has also previously acted as a Special Assistant Illinois Attorney General.

Mr. Thies has a Martindale-Hubbell peer review rating of AV, has earned the Super Lawyers designation by Law & Politics (limited to 5% of licensed active attorneys in Illinois) and has been selected for inclusion in the Leading Lawyers Network (which has designated him as being in the top ten downstate business lawyers in Illinois).


  • J.D., University of Illinois College of Law, 1988 (Distinguished Alumnus Award, 2016)
  • B.A., Economics, with distinction, Indiana University, 1984 (Phi Beta Kappa academic honorary) (focusing on Labor Economics)

Bar Admissions

  • Illinois, 1988
  • U.S. District Court, Central District of Illinois, 1989
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit, 1998
  • Supreme Court of the United States, 1998
  • U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois, 2005
  • U.S. District Court, Southern District of Illinois, 2005
  • U.S. District Court, Western District of Texas, 2010

Professional Activities

A member of the Champaign County, Chicago, Illinois State and American Bar Associations (among other organizations), Mr. Thies is the past president of Land of Lincoln Legal Aid (2016-2020), a legal aid organization providing free civil legal services to low-income persons and senior citizens in 65 counties in central and southern Illinois. He is also past president of the National Caucus of State Bar Associations (a position he held while he was president of the Illinois State Bar Association), and is a member of the American Bar Association House of Delegates.

Mr. Thies is the Vice Chair of the American Bar Association Center for Innovation Governing Council and an elected Member-at-Large of the Council of the Solo, Small Firm and General Practice Division Executive Committee. He has served on the Executive Council of the National Conference of Bar Presidents and is past chair of the board of the ISBA Mutual Insurance Company. Mr. Thies is a fellow of both the American and Illinois State Bar Foundations, and a member of the U.S. Supreme Court Historical Society. In 2022 he was named a Pillar of the Champaign County Bar Association.

By appointment of the Illinois Supreme Court, Mr. Thies is a member of the Illinois Judicial Conference Public Education and Engagement Task Force and the Illinois Supreme Court Task Force Sub-Committee Concerning Judicial Redistricting. He is a past advisory member of the Illinois Judicial Conference’s Committee on Strategic Planning and a past member of the Court’s Committee on Character and Fitness (4th District). He has also served as a member of the Illinois Judicial Ethics Committee.

Civic and Philanthropic Involvement

Mr. Thies has served on numerous philanthropic boards and committees, frequently in leadership positions. A partial list includes:

  • Cunningham Children’s Home Foundation (past President)
  • Champaign-Urbana Community Schools Foundation (past Chair)
  • Volunteer Center of Champaign County (past Chair)
  • Urbana Free Library Board of Trustees (President, 2020-2022)
  • Champaign-Urbana Kiwanis Club (President, 2021-2022)
  • Illinois Bar Foundation (past board member)
  • United Way of Champaign County (past board member)

Together with his wife, Terry, he has led youth on a number of church mission trips to such locations as West Virginia, Mississippi, and Mexico.

While serving as ISBA President, he established the program Lawyers Feeding Illinois (chaired by Terry Thies) which to date has raised 4.6 million meals for low-income individuals across the state.


Mr. Thies and his wife, Terry, reside in Urbana with their two daughters.

Five Things Most People Don’t Know About John

1John was the first high school sophomore to win the Champaign-Urbana Twin City Cross Country championship.

2Along with his sister, Nancy, John (when he was seventeen years old) developed and hosted the first television broadcast of the Champaign-Urbana Fourth of July Parade.

3John has attended three Summer Olympic Games, including the 1972 games in Munich at which his sister Nancy competed as a member of the U.S. Olympic Gymnastics Team. Their brother David was Nancy’s piano accompanist for her floor exercise routine at the U.S. Olympic Trials.

4While in college, John interned in Washington, D.C. with Illinois Senator Alan J. Dixon. John later served as a field director for the successful congressional campaign of Terry L. Bruce.

5When he was President of the Illinois State Bar Association, John and his wife, Terry developed the program Lawyers Feeding Illinois which to date has raised 4.6 million meals for food insecure Illinoisans.


Mr. Thies has frequently written on topics of interest to the profession (and public). Articles, president’s pages and opinion pieces published in the Illinois Bar Journal, practice newsletters, the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin and/or other newspapers and magazines have included, among others:

Co-Author: Limit Law Practice to Lawyers

American Bar Association Law Practice Magazine | July/August 2016

The Importance of Celebrating our Legal Pillars

Central Illinois Business Magazine | April/May 2016