Eric Hilton was born and raised in metropolitan Washington, D.C., where he grew up admiring the achievements of a man who served there on our nation’s highest court for nearly 25 years – Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. “His death in 1993 came at a time when I was considering my ultimate career path. His life as a social engineer and its impact inspired me to pursue a career in law,” says Hilton.
That same inspiration has influenced Hilton to carve his own diverse line of impressive accomplishments. After receiving a Bachelor of Science degree from Hampton University and a Juris Doctorate from the George Washington University Law School, Hilton joined a boutique Labor and Employment law firm focusing on the hospitality industry. His career trajectory was placed on a fast track, even trusted by this law firm to examine his first witness in court the Monday after receiving his bar results. That position led directly to him being hiring as general counsel at age 35 for the country’s oldest and largest minority-owned construction company, H.J. Russell & Company. He was elevated to senior vice president, before returning to private practice.
Hilton is currently partner at Freeman Mathis & Gary LLP in Atlanta. He also serves on the Board of Directors for Atlanta Habitat for Humanity Inc. and the Latin American Association, and is a member of 100 Black Men of Atlanta Inc., a 2012 Alumnus of Leadership Atlanta, and serves on Fernbank Museum’s Corporate Leadership Council.
1. Very impressive to make General Counsel at 35. Do you leverage this experience to your benefit today?
I believe my private practice and in-house background allow me to better serve my clients from a unique perspective; whether in the board room or the courtroom. In additional to my trial work, my 10 years of experience as an in-house general counsel provides me with an invaluable perspective as to what clients truly value as legal service consumers. As a “hands on” general counsel, I continued to personally handle union negotiations and employment matters which kept my skills sharp. I also served as the administrative head of human resources. Additionally, I oversaw general liability matters arising out of the firm’s property management operations. These experiences, upon returning to private practice, allowed me to grow a broad-based diversified practice which presently includes construction, L&E and general liability.
2. Tell us about FMG. What are the synergies there for you?
Freeman Mathis & Gary is a national law firm with more than 120 lawyers. The firm is a general practice firm and truly on an upward trajectory. We have outstanding lawyers who not only know how to try cases, but are decent and ethical people. I had a recent jury trial and the input from my law partners through our “round table” process (which is required for all cases going to trial) was invaluable in formulating strategy and achieving a great result. Moving my practice to FMG was a smooth transition and well-received by my clients. My goal is to continue to grow my practice and 2017 was my best year yet.
3. You have been on the short list for several prominent legal positions in Atlanta. With that said, you strike me as very happy in your present role. What does the future hold for H. Eric Hilton, Esq.
In the words of Thurgood Marshall, I believe that we as lawyers are “social engineers,” with an obligation to improve society and the lives of others. For this reason, I have sought leadership roles in civic and service organizations that share this purpose. Making a positive mark for the benefit of others drives me day-by-day. So I am just going to continue to do what I do, and hold myself to the highest ethical professional standards in my execution. I will strive to surround myself with people who share that perspective. In my career, I have found that “hard work leads to opportunity” and “discipline leads to rewards.” With that said I will probably die with an open file on my desk. AT
(PHOTO CREDIT: Law.com)