Kathleen Pine, Shareholder, Sandberg Phoenix & von Gontard, Carbondale
By ALAN J. ORTBALS
Kathleen Pine grew up in Jacksonville, Ill., and received her bachelor’s degree from Illinois State University in Springfield. After graduating, she took a job with the Illinois State Attorney General’s Office and that experience convinced her to go to law school and be an attorney. She received her J.D. degree from Southern Illinois University Carbondale in 1982.
Upon graduation, she took a job with the St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s Office and made the move to Sandberg Phoenix and von Gontard two years later. She’s been with SPvG ever since.
In 2002 her husband, also an attorney, was offered a job in the General Counsel’s Office at SIUC. He wanted to take it and she agreed to move to Carbondale. “When I told the firm that’s what I had decided that I needed to do, they said, ‘Why don’t we open an office down there, we have clients down there.’ So it was put to a vote, approved and we’ve been here 11 years.”
The focus of Pine’s practice is defending hospitals, doctors and health-care workers against medical malpractice claims. It has been since she started with SPvG 30 years ago.
“I had gotten some jury trial experience at the Circuit Attorney’s Office,” Pine said. “I had worked with experts and I knew how to present expert witness testimony in a trial. I liked speaking to a jury and thinking of ways to teach them and persuade them to my client’s case. So, medical malpractice litigation was kind of a natural fit.”
Medical cases can be difficult, Pine said, because of the complexity of the vocabulary, the medicine and the science. You have to remember that the jury hasn’t been focused on this case for months or years and that people learn in different ways, she said. Some are audio learners and some are visual learners and, if you’re going to reach all of them, according to Pine, you need to present the information clearly in both formats. But, she says, representing the health-care industry and its workers is very rewarding.
“What I like best about it are my clients,” Pine said. “The people in the health-care profession — almost without fail — are really dedicated to their jobs and dedicated to their patients. They’re humans, so they do make mistakes from time to time, but they’re just a wonderful group of people to work with and to defend.”
Pine said that what she liked best about SPvG is the support it provides to branch out and try new things.
“They’re always willing to listen to you,” Pine said. “You get treated fairly and the firm gives me the opportunities to do what I consider really good quality work that I enjoy doing.”