J. Phil Gilbert
School of Law Commencement Address
Senior Judge, Southern District of Illinois
Judge Phil Gilbert (JD ’74) is a lifelong resident of Carbondale, Illinois. He graduated from Carbondale Community High School in 1967, where he was co-captain of the basketball team that finished second in the state. He is a graduate of the University of Illinois and Loyola University Chicago’s School of Law. After law school, he returned to Carbondale and became a partner in the firm of Gilbert & Gilbert. He was a member of the Illinois State Board of Elections from 1978 to 1987 and was its chairman from 1981 to 1983.
Judge Gilbert was a partner in the firm of Gilbert, Kimmel, Huffman & Prosser, Ltd. from 1983 to 1988, when he was appointed by the Illinois Supreme Court as a circuit judge in the First Judicial Circuit and served as a state court judge until his appointment to the federal bench. Judge Gilbert was appointed United States District Judge for the Southern District of Illinois in September 1992 by President George H. W. Bush. He served as chief judge of the Southern District of Illinois from October 1993 to September 2000.
In March 2014, Judge Gilbert assumed senior status but continues his public service by rendering substantial service as a senior judge in Illinois.
In 2008, Judge Gilbert received the Silver Gavel Award for his dedication to justice from the criminal defense bars of the Southern District of Illinois and the Eastern District of Missouri. He received the Southern Illinois University School of Law Founders’ Medal in 2009 for distinguished service to the law school.
In 2010, Judge Gilbert was the recipient of the Loyola School of Law’s Distinguished Jurist Award.
On February 27, 2015, Judge Gilbert was appointed to the Southern Illinois University Board of Trustees by Governor Bruce Rauner.