Officers responded to reports of shots fired at 8:53 p.m. in the 2600 block of Mira Vista Drive and found Gilliland on his front porch suffering from gunshot wounds, according to police. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Investigators determined he had just arrived home and was confronted by a suspect or suspects who shot him. No suspect information or a possible motive have been released by police.
Gilliland was a partner at the Atlanta-based law firm Kilpatrick Townsend and Stockton LLP, which issued a statement about his death, saying, "We are deeply saddened by the death of our colleague, friend and partner, Jim Gilliland. Jim was an absolute pillar of our law firm. He was truly a great lawyer, and his many clients trusted him with their most difficult cases. Jim had been successfully trying cases in federal and state courts around the country for 35 years."
On Friday, a group of young people took flowers to the home Gilliland.
Gilliland handled intellectual property cases for Silicon Valley giants including Apple and Oracle, as well as Hitachi, Sony and Dreyers Grand Ice Cream. He won several prestigious awards as well, including Lawyer of the Year.
"Jim was dedicated to his wife, Vickie, his four children and his parents. They were the center of his life. His passions spanned from spending time with his family to singing, enjoying the arts, travel and sports," managing partner of the firm Susan Spaeth said in the statement.
"Jim was an absolute pillar of our law firm. He was our trusted colleague and close friend, as well as a mentor and role model to so many.
Jim will be missed deeply. He was truly a great lawyer, and his many clients trusted him with their most difficult cases," she said.
"As of now there's no suspect information, there's no motive that is known to us, no witnesses," said Lt. Robert de la Campa with the El Cerrito Police Department.
Investigators have to consider whether a disgruntled client could be behind Gilliland's murder. But, they will need the public's help.
"By nature, the law profession is very confidential, so if there is someone out there who knows that a case he was involved with might lead to such things, they will have to call us," said de la Campa.
Gilliland tried cases in federal and state courts for 35 years and was managing partner, chairman and most recently chairman of the firm's litigation department.
El Cerrito police are encouraging anyone who may have information about the case to call (510) 215-4400, ext. 40 or by email.
Bay City News contributed to this report.