DALLAS (June 5, 2018) — The American Board of Trial Advocates has lost one of its great leaders. Past National Past President and founding member George R. Hillsinger passed away on June 4, his 92nd birthday.
Considered a role model of civility and professionalism, Mr. Hillsinger was one of the original founding members of ABOTA when the association was formed in Los Angeles in 1958. In 1961, he served as ABOTA’s third National President.
“George Hillsinger was one of California’s most respected attorneys,” said Cynthia McGuinn, ABOTA National President. “His contributions in 1958 to the then newly formed ABOTA created the platform for the organization that ABOTA has become 60 years later. The attributes of civility, ethics and professionalism that we hold dear and the mission we pursue, to steadfastly protect and champion the jury system and the right to trial by jury, were modeled by George Hillsinger during his entire professional career. He was a true champion of trial by jury.”
Mr. Hillsinger earned his law degree from Southwestern University School of Law in 1950, and thereafter started the law firm of Hillsinger & Costanzo. He was active in a number of other legal organizations and served as a member of the California Bar Association’s Board of Governors and as its Vice President in 1974. He was also a member of the American College of Trial Lawyers and one of the lawyers who drafted the California Jury Instructions: Book of Approved Jury Instructions, a publication recognized for more than 50 years as the source for civil jury instructions in California.
Over the course of his career, Mr. Hillsinger was recognized as a remarkable trial attorney and giant in the profession. He tried more than 300 jury trials to verdict, many of which were complex and catastrophic cases in all areas of civil litigation.
Glendale, Calif., lawyer and ABOTA member Michael D. Gonzalez described Mr. Hillsinger as one who was proud of being a lawyer and who spent a lot of time with young lawyers, instilling in them the honor of the profession and the need for civility.
“He never asked for sanctions, never argued with a judge or opposing counsel,” Mr. Gonzalez said. “He mentored over 25 lawyers who became members of ABOTA. As much as he enjoyed engaging in trial, he seemed happiest when he had the opportunity to sit at lunch with everyone at the firm.”
Mr. Hillsinger was a graduate of the Strauss School of Dispute Resolution at the Pepperdine University School of Law and a member of the California Medical Legal Committee, an invitation only organization of the most experienced and skilled medical malpractice defense lawyers in California. Mr. Hillsinger devoted his talents to activities that benefitted the community and the Bar.
His wife, Patricia, who died on Jan. 30, 2006, preceded him in death. Services are pending and information concerning them will be provided when determined.