Jim graduated from Loras College with a double major Bachelors Degree in Business and Communications, where he served as student body president.
Jim would go on to graduate from John Marshal Law School in downtown Chicago in 1983. Jim served as the president of the student senate and received honors for graduating near the top of his class. While in law school as president of the student senate, He also worked at the Cook County State’s Attorney office during law school in the felony division, where he prosecuted rape and armed batter cases under the supervision of a licensed attorney.
Upon graduation from law school, Jim worked at an insurance defense law firm in Chicago, where he handled a wide variety of cases including worker’s compensation, personal injury defense, plaintiff personal injury cases, malpractice defense, criminal and municipality cases.
Jim then moved to Peoria where he worked for a local Peoria law firm for nearly two years.
Then, in March of 1986, Jim opened his own law firm: Jim Rochford and Associates.
Since opening his firm, Jim has successfully handled thousands of personal injury and worker’s compensation matters. He successfully filed a federal due process lawsuit against the NCAA that received national publicity, including an article in Sports Illustrated.
He has also successfully handled numerous cases in federal court on a variety of legal issues, including trademark infringement, school law matters, administrative and numerous municipal matters. Jim served as the fire and police commissioner attorney for both East Peoria and Creve Coeur for several years. He also served as general counsel for the Peoria Housing Authority where handled many labor cases, collective bargaining negotiations, and numerous eviction cases. Jim never lost an eviction case during his tenure as general counsel for the Housing Authority.
Jim has successfully handled 4 Class X jury trials and thousands of lawsuits including both criminal and civil matters.
Jim is licensed to practice in the State of Illinois and the Central District of Illinois. He is also licensed to practice in 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Jim has also dedicated his time to serving the community throughout his life. Among his distinguished accomplishments, Jim has served as a worldwide leader for Kiwanis International. He served as the International President of Kiwanis during the 2017-18 fiscal year, tirelessly worked to promote and develop local community leaders in the Kiwanis organization throughout the world. Thanks to his leadership as president, Kiwanis set records in building new clubs and building membership during his presidency. Jim has been an active member in Kiwanis for nearly 40 years and has participated in countless fundraisers and service projects.
Jim’s other notable community service accomplishments:
Jim successfully drafted Peoria’s third All-American City Award, lead the fundraising effort to install the original lights on the Murray Baker Bridge, chaired the Bradley Men’s basketball post-season banquet for 10 years, chaired the food stand at the Peoria’s Park District fireworks for over 30 years, coordinated the acquisition and hosting of the VIP’s to work the telephones for the MDA telephone for 5 years, past-president of Peoria Jaycees, past-president of Peoria Downtown Kiwanis Club, among many other community accomplishments.
In addition, Jim started an AAU basketball program called the Peoria Irish that he led for 15+ years helped over a hundred central Illinois kids successfully play college basketball.
Jim’s greatest accomplishment is marrying his wife, Deb Rochford, and having three wonderful children along with 6 grandchildren.
Nick was born and raised in Peoria, Illinois and is married to his dear wife, Kaveri. He attended Peoria Notre Dame High School where he played 4 years of varsity basketball before beginning his college basketball career.
He graduated from Monmouth College with a Bachelor’s Degree and double major in Business Administration and Economics.
Nick graduated from Northern Illinois Law School in the top of his class in 2.5 years in December of 2018. While in law school, Nick worked on a 711 license at the Peoria County State’s Attorney office where he handled traffic, DUI, and misdemeanor matters. He also law clerked at Rochford and Associates.
Upon graduation from law school, Nick began working at Rochford and Associates as a full-time associate. Nick has experience handling complex civil litigation matters, including personal injury and workers compensation, criminal and traffic matters, family law, estate planning, business law matters, and immigration. Nick spent nearly 2 years working with the Peoria County Public Defender’s Office where he handled hundreds of DUI and traffic related matters.
Nick is licensed to practice in the State of Illinois and the Central District of Illinois.
Nick has been on the Leadership Council for Heart of Illinois Big Brothers Big Sisters for 2 years, he is a board member at St. Augustine Manor, and Nick has participated in numerous fundraising and community service events in the Peoria community, including the Stand Down for the Troops, CareerSpark, and numerous Kiwanis related fundraisers.
Jim Rochford and Associates is proud to announce the newest addition to the firm – Senior Associate Attorney Nina Gougis. Ms. Gougis comes with a wealth of experience in general civil litigation, school law, municipal law, and employment law.
Ms. Gougis began her legal career at a Chicago-based law firm that specializes in municipal and school law. She moved to Peoria in 2011, when she began representing Peoria Public Schools, to help establish the firm’s local office. She has represented school districts and municipalities in all stages of litigation in state and federal court, as well as litigation, mediation, and arbitration before administrative bodies, such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR), and the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board (IELRB). She also negotiated with unions concerning the terms and conditions of employment and trained administrators and union leaders on the interest-based bargaining process. She has extensive experience providing guidance to local government bodies on collective bargaining, personnel issues, and labor disputes.
Ms. Gougis also is a highly skilled litigator who has successfully represented both defendants (including school districts, municipalities, and individuals) and individual plaintiffs in numerous high-profile cases – including cases involving gender, disability, and racial discrimination; administrator reclassification and dismissal; sexual harassment; retaliation; alleged unfair labor practices; and other areas of labor, employment, and civil rights law.
In addition to her extensive legal experience, Ms. Gougis is committed to the betterment of Peoria for all of its citizens. She is a proud member of the Peoria branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), where she served as an executive board member and currently serves as a member of the industrial labor relations committee. Ms. Gougis also serves on the board of the Peoria PAC, LLC, the first political action committee dedicated to establishing a collective voice in government affairs for African Americans in Peoria. She is a past board member and secretary of Central Illinois Friends, a nonprofit organization that offers essential services to those living with HIV; a past member of the City of Peoria’s Advisory Committee on Police Community Relations; and a past board member for the Peoria chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). She is a proud member of the Peoria Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority.
Due to her legal expertise and passion for her community, Ms. Gougis has a stellar reputation both within and outside of the legal community. In November 2020, she was awarded the 40 Leaders Under Forty award by Peoria Magazines.
In her free time, Ms. Gougis enjoys spending time with her husband, her young son, and their dog, Rosie. She also enjoys pursuing her passions – true crime documentaries, cooking, reading, and art.