Heyl Royster

John Heil Jr.

Office Managing Partner & Shareholder
Peoria, IL

Joined Firm in 2007

John Heil loves a good debate. An old-fashioned one—civil and based on how to interpret facts acknowledged by both parties. A debate connected to reality.

  • Peoria Office Managing Partner
  • Firm Attorney Mentoring Program Lead
  • Rated AV Preeminent® Peer Review Rating by Martindale-Hubbell®
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John Heil Jr.

Attorney in Peoria, IL

John is a Chicago-area native who, after 11 years as a prosecutor for the Cook County State's Attorney's Office, moved to Peoria in 2007 to join Heyl Royster. John was already familiar with Peoria, having received his undergraduate education at Bradley University before returning home to attend Chicago-Kent College of Law. While studying to be a lawyer, John spent much of his time soaking up valuable life lessons at Chicago's criminal courthouse. Very early on, John was exposed to some of the finest trial attorneys in the business. He had the good fortune to work as an Assistant State's Attorney in that same building during his early career years. No day was a dull one. Through it all, he tried many felony cases on behalf of the People of the State of Illinois. Later, John transitioned into defending Cook County, its elected officials, and employees in civil lawsuits pending in state and federal court. He was on a team assigned to several high-profile federal civil rights actions in the Northern District of Illinois.  Upon joining Heyl Royster, John brought a wealth of experience with him.

He is now blessed with a wonderfully active family and an 18-minute commute. His varied legal practice focuses on business and commercial litigation, the defense of civil rights actions against government units and their employees, and catastrophic tort claims. He also provides insurance coverage opinions to insurers and litigates declaratory judgment actions on their behalf. John's clients run the gamut from individuals and mom-and-pop businesses to Fortune 500 companies. Regardless of their size, John does not hesitate to counsel his clients from a pragmatic point of view. Although a trial attorney, John understands that litigation is not always the most desirable solution for his clients. In other cases, John will counsel for a flexible litigation approach intended to provide off-ramps to avoid years of costly court action. When "all-out war" is the only alternative, John manages a team that leaves no stone unturned to satisfy a client's litigation objectives.

John is co-Chair of the firm's Business and Commercial Litigation Practice Group and leads the firm's attorney mentoring program. He takes great pride in teaching newer attorneys and, in so doing, emphasizes the value of a reasoned approach and respect for the judicial system. He treasures most of what he learns from his colleagues.



J.D., Chicago-Kent College of Law, with honors

B.S., Bradley University, magna cum laude, Political Science and History

Licensure(s) and Admission(s)

State Courts of Illinois

United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois

United States District Court for the Northern (Trial Counsel) District of Illinois

United States District Court for the Southern District of Illinois

United States Supreme Court

Professional Affiliations

Defense Research Institute

Federal Bar Association

Central District of Illinois Chapter, President

Illinois Defense Counsel

Board of Director (2016 – present)

Civil Practice Committee, Past Chair

Illinois State Bar Association

Peoria County Bar Association

Community Involvement

Peoria Area Chamber of Commerce

Board of Directors

Government Affairs Committee



“IDC Deposition Academy,” NIU Conference Center, Naperville, Illinois (2023)

“We Are Settled, Right? Settling Claims of Minors, Disabled Persons, and the Deceased,” Illinois Association of Defense Trial Counsel (2020)

“Liability - Weird & Unusual Cases,” Greater Peoria Claims Association (2019)

“Civil Rights Litigation Under Section 1983,” Heyl Royster’s Annual Governmental Holiday Seminar (2018)

“Drones and Insurance,” CorVel U Fall Seminar (2018)

“Advancing Your Case in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois & Practice Pointers: Section 1983 Law,” The Federal Bar Association’s Central District of Illinois Chapter Seminar (2018)

“Tort Immunity & Civil Rights Update,” Heyl Royster’s 33rd Annual Claims Handling Seminar (2018)

“Tortious & Intentional Interference with Business Relations ‘More than Defamation,’” Heyl Royster “Avoiding Litigation Part Deux” Seminar (2018)

“Commercial Drones: Flying into Litigation Turbulence,” Defense Research Institute’s Business Litigation Seminar (2017)

“Can I Park My Drone Here? How the FAA’s New Drone Regulations Affect Your District,” Illinois Association of Park Districts Legal Symposium (2016)

“Legal Aspects of Drones: Where We Are & Where We Are Heading,” Greater Peoria Claims Association's Annual Vendor Fair & Educational Seminar (2016)

“Unboxing Case Law: An Insurance Law Update,” Heyl Royster's 31st Annual Claims Handling Seminar (2016)


Strip Search of a Muslim State Prison Inmate in View of a Transgender Male Prison Guard Violated the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act,” Illinois Defense Counsel Quarterly (2023)

“Notice of Cooperation,” chapter in Commercial and Professional Liability Insurance, Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education (2023)

The Element of Proximate Cause in a Personal Injury Lawsuit: Analysis, Complicating Factors, and Changing Jury Instructions,” Illinois Defense Counsel Quarterly Monograph (2022)

The Naming of “John Doe” Defendants Is Not a ‘Mistake’ Triggering the Relation-Back Doctrine,” Illinois Defense Counsel Quarterly (2021)

Supreme Court Confirms Dismissal for Failure to State a Claim Without Prejudice is a ‘Strike’ Under the PLRA’s Three-Strikes Rule,” Illinois Defense Counsel Quarterly (2020)

Appellate Court Provides a Primer on Supplementary Proceedings Against Third Parties,” IDC Defense Update (2020)

Electronic Discovery in Illinois Five Years After the 2014 Amendments to the Illinois Rules of Civil Procedure,” Illinois Defense Counsel Quarterly Monograph (2019)

Lewis v. City of Chicago:” False Evidence and the Fourth Amendment,” Illinois Defense Counsel Quarterly (2019)

A Fatal Fall in Jail Custody Was Not the Result of Deliberate Indifference,” Illinois Defense Counsel Quarterly (2018)

Plaintiffs’ Section 1983 Right to Poll the Jury: Recent Seventh Circuit Jurisprudence,” Illinois Defense Counsel Quarterly (2017)

It Means What it Says: The Proper Definition of Willful and Wanton Misconduct under the Tort Immunity Act,” Civil Practice & Procedure IDC Defense Update (2017)

Consciously Guard Against Unconscious Bias In The Workplace,” InterBusiness Issues (2017)

Animal Abuse Case Provides Reminder as to the Low Federal Pleading Standard,” Illinois Defense Counsel Quarterly (2016)

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  • Rated AV Preeminent® Peer Review Rating by Martindale-Hubbell®
  • Leading Lawyer by Law Bulletin Media
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