Austin attorney Hector De Leon considers himself lucky to have been born in Austin and raised in East Austin.
“Without being born in Austin, Texas, I wouldn’t have been able to go to college,” he said.
He grew up not far from the University of Texas, where he would earn both a bachelor’s and a law degree. He also lived close to the state Capitol, where he first met one of his lifelong mentors, Henry B. Gonzalez, a state senator at the time. He keeps a photo of Henry B., as he is affectionately known, in his office.
From age 12, De Leon wanted to be a lawyer, inspired by TV lawyer Perry Mason.
“Now nobody at 12 years of age decides they want to be an insurance corporate regulatory lawyer, I can assure you,” De Leon said. “I became the kind of lawyer I am because of circumstances.”
Those circumstances include being mentored by an attorney who helped him get a job at the State Board of Insurance. A year and a half out of law school, at the age of 28, De Leon was named general counsel for the board. At age 30, De Leon struck out on his own, establishing a practice that specialized in insurance matters.
Active in the Democratic Party, De Leon ran for Austin City Council in 1983 but was disappointed that the party endorsed another candidate. Feeling that the Democratic Party wanted only his campaign contributions, he moved to the Republican Party, in which he has remained active. He has turned down opportunities to be appointed to various statewide posts, deciding instead to maintain his privacy and have more time for his family.
De Leon married a junior high school friend, Arleigh Stoune, in 1973. The couple had three sons -- Daniel, Benjamin and Michael -- who all graduated from UT-Austin.