Gilbert grew up in Grayson Valley and graduated from Hewitt-Trussville High School in 1990. He earned bachelor's and master's degrees in biology and environmental management at Samford University in 1995 and 1997, and then a juris doctorate from the University of Alabama School of Law in 2002. While in college, he worked at Bottega and completed an internship with Vulcan Materials in Knoxville, Tennessee. He was admitted to the Alabama State Bar in 2002 and joined Balch & Bingham in May 2003.
In 2009 Gilbert was one of several attorneys retained to represent the Greene County Commission, Greenetrack and its CEO Nat Winn in a suit against Sidetrack LLC which was constructing a bingo parlor near the greyhound racing facility. The plaintiffs alleged that sediment from the construction project had damaged adjoining land and roads.
Gilbert has registered as a lobbyist for the Business Alliance for Responsible Development.
In 2017 Gilbert was charged, along with fellow attorney Steve McKinney and Drummond Company executive David Roberson as part of an alleged bribery scheme with State Representative Oliver Robinson. The attorneys incorporated the "Alliance for Jobs and the Economy", which used contributed funds primarily to oppose actions proposed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency with regard to the 35th Avenue Superfund Site in North Birmingham. A large portion of AJE's funding was given to the Oliver Robinson Foundation, a non-profit headed by Rep. Robinson's daughter, Amanda, which was contracted to spread "accurate and reliable information and advocacy" to residents and other stakeholders. Prosecutors maintain that Robinson concealed the arrangement, took much of the money for personal use, and used his public office against the interests of his constituents. Robinson pleaded guilty to those charges and cooperated in the prosecution of Gilbert, McKinney and Roberson. The charges against McKinney were dropped at trial in July 2018. Gilbert and Roberson were both convicted on all counts. Gilbert was sentenced in October to serve five years in prison followed by two years' supervised release and 100 hours of community service. He was also fined $25,000.
Gilbert and his wife have two children.
- Morton, Jason (December 16, 2009) "Lawsuit, pending sewage permit slow Greene Co. site." The Tuscaloosa News
- "U.S. Attorney Charges Former Alabama Legislator in Bribery Conspiracy." (June 22, 2017) Department of Justice, U.S. Attorney’s Office, Northern District of Alabama
- Faulk, Kent (June 22, 2017) "Former Alabama legislator Oliver Robinson charged in bribery scheme; enters federal plea deal." The Birmingham News
- Choma, Russ & Nick Swallenbach (March 8, 2018) "Jeff Sessions Has a Huge Conflict of Interest in a Federal Bribery Case—and It Keeps Getting Worse" Mother Jones