Steven Hilst became a personal injury lawyer because he saw how his work could transform the lives of severely injured accident victims or families that have lost loved ones under tragic circumstances.
When Hilst was in law school, he worked for a firm that represented the interests of businesses and corporations. He got little satisfaction from that work. But when he took on personal injury cases, he relished the one-on-one contact he had with clients and the precious opportunity he had to help them pick up the pieces and get their lives back together.
Making a Difference in People's Lives
Hilst particularly remembers a wrongful death case early on in his career where he helped a young woman an immigrant from India who was in the U.S. with her husband, an engineer. She was a still going to school and was on a student visa when her husband was tragically killed in a parking structure accident, which occurred as the result of a construction defect.
"We were able to get a substantial settlement for the woman whereby she had the financial resources to remain in the country and complete her studies," Hilst said. "In personal injury law, you really see first-hand how you've helped someone and how that has helped turn their life around. You meet these people who are in horrible situations in their life and help them get compensation and monetary support. What could be more satisfying than that?"
Now, Hilst, who once represented corporations like insurance companies, works for the other side. This is how he looks at it.
"If I represent the insurance companies, I'm depriving someone of compensation and I'm essentially denying them justice," he said. "But when I represent injured plaintiffs, I'm helping them seek and obtain justice and fair compensation."
Fighting the Good Fight
Hilst treats every case like it's a chess game.
"I'm competitive, I like to win," he says. "I look at the big picture when I come up with the strategy. I take every case like it's going to trial. I remember at every moment that I'm standing up for someone who would otherwise not have this chance to get justice."
It's not just about money or victories for Hilst.
"It's about treating your clients like they are your friends or family," he says. "This is personal for me."
Hilst walks that talk when he represents accident victims against insurance companies. He focuses on telling insurance companies his clients' stories, by humanizing them instead of making them seem like numbers on a page.
"I try to make the insurance company see how this person is a human being and that his or her life matters," Hilst said. "Hopefully, it helps insurance companies understand the person's story."
But, when it doesn't, Hilst has never hesitated to go to all out, take the case to court and get his clients what they rightfully deserve.
A Team-Oriented Environment
Hilst, the newest addition to Bisnar Chase's team of trial lawyers, believes that he is in the right place.
"Bisnar Chase is well known as a leader when it comes to catastrophic injury and product liability cases," he said. "The team here goes above and beyond in representing clients. This is a firm that is not afraid to stand up against multi-billion dollar corporations."
Hilst says he also values the team-oriented atmosphere at Bisnar Chase.
"We work together for the common good, which is to get just compensation for clients," he said. "But fees alone is not the motivation for the good work we do. The primary goal is to do the best job we can for clients and treat them really well. I'm honored to be a part of this team."
Early Life and Education
Hilst was born in a small town in Central Illinois, in the area where President Abraham Lincoln practiced as a lawyer. He moved to Southern California when he was 3 and has remained here. Hilst obtained a Bachelor's degree from the University of Southern California in 1984 and a Doctorate law degree from Santa Clara University School of Law in 1988. He also holds a post-doctorate law degree from the University of San Diego School of Law. He lives in Redondo Beach, loves to work out and go to the beach. Hilst is also a die-hard USC football fan.
Professional Legal Accomplishments
Steven Hilst Top 1% Attorneys in AmericaSince 2001, Hilst has been a member of the prestigious American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA), an invitation-only bar association consisting of the most accomplished trial attorneys in the United States. He is also a life member of The Million Dollar Advocates Forum, an honor bestowed on only 5 percent of attorneys in the U.S.
Hilst has obtained the rank of associate with the American Inns of Court, has served on the Board of Directors of The William J. Rea/ABOTA Inn of Court, and was the first President of The Carlos Moreno Trial Practice In of Court. He has also served on the faculty of the LA-ABOTA trial school. Hilst also serves on the Board of The Beach Cities Trojan Club, which raises money for student athletes.
Mr. Hilst is an honorary of the Distinguished Justice Advocates Top 1% Attorneys in America.
His motto? "Work hard, always be prepared, speak from your heart, never give up and always fight on."