A graduate of U.C. Berkeley and U.C.'s Hastings College of the Law, John Hillsman has been a member of the California Bar since 1976. He has tried more than 100 cases to verdict or judgment and is perennially listed in such publications as The Best Lawyers in America, Northern California Super Lawyers, and the San Francisco Business Times' Best Lawyers in Northern California under the dual specialties of "personal injury law" and "maritime law."
Mr. Hillsman is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, an Associate of the American Board of Trial Advocates, and a "Proctor" member of the Maritime Law Association. He is active in the Admiralty Section of the American Association for Justice (AJA), and belongs to the Consumer Attorneys of California (CAOC) and the San Francisco Trial Lawyers Association.
Mr. Hillsman is a sought-after speaker and is heavily involved in continuing legal education, addressing seminars and conventions up and down the West Coast, and as far afield as Hawaii, Louisiana, and New England on subjects relating to maritime tort law and insurance bad faith for organizations such as the Rutter Group, CEB, the Pacific Admiralty Seminar, the MLA, and the National Business Institute.
He is the author of several law review articles including: "Navigating the ‘Zone of Uncertainty' in Stewart's Wake," 3 Ben.Mar.Bull. 158 (2005); "Still Lost in the Labyrinth: The Continuing Puzzle of Seaman Status," 15 U.S.F.Mar.L.J. 49 (2003); "Have All the Recent Twists and Turns in the Jones Act Left Deep Sea Divers High and Dry?" 11 U.S.F.Mar.L.J. 47 (1999); "Looking for a Lodestar Among the Rocks and Shoals of Longshore Coverage," 3 U.S.F.Mar.L.J. 227 (1991); "The Plaintiff's Perspective on Expert Witnesses," 18 The Brief 51 (1988). In 2007, Mr. Hillsman was appointed by the Court to help rewrite the Ninth Circuit Model Jury Instructions for "Jones Act and Other Admiralty Claims" [Ninth Circuit Manual of Model Jury Instructions (2007 ed.) §§ 7.1-7.12] and has served as a Mediator and Early-Neutral-Evaluator in the Alternative Dispute Resolution Program of the Federal District Court for the Northern District of California since 1999. He has also served as a Judge pro tem for the San Francisco Superior Court.
Mr. Hillsman has held an "AV" rating (highest available) from Martindale-Hubble since 1986 and has been repeatedly profiled in San Francisco's legal newspaper The Recorder.
He is a member of the Board of Advisors for the University of San Francisco Maritime Law Journal and served on the Board of Directors of the San Francisco Trial Lawyers Association and the Board of Trustees for the San Francisco Maritime Museum. Mr. Hillsman has also been a proud member of the Piledrivers, Divers, Bridge, Wharf & Dock Builders Union, Local 34, and the Inland Boatmen's Union.