This Issue is Dedicated to John Pickering, Class of 1940
John Pickering was one of the University of Michigan Law School’s most distinguished alumni. Although it is impossible to capture all of the ways in which he influenced the law, the legal profession, and generations of lawyers, parts of his story are told in the following tributes, which are adapted from the transcript of a special session of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia held in his honor on May 11, 2005.
As an appellate lawyer with expertise in Supreme Court litigation, Mr. Pickering had a significant role in cases involving some of the most important issues of his lifetime, including the proper bounds of presidential authority (the Steel Seizure case), civil rights (NAACP v. Claiborne County, Mississippi), physician-assisted suicide (Glucksberg and Vacco) and the use of race as a factor in university admissions (the University of Michigan affirmative-action cases, Grutter and Gratz). He co-founded the renowned firm Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering (now Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr) in 1962. He not only helped steer the firm to prominence, but also helped instill in it an ethos of service, leading it to be one of the most significant contributors of pro bono legal services in the nation. One of his abiding passions was social justice, which manifested itself in his work to provide access to legal representation for those who cannot afford it and to the legal profession for historically excluded groups. Mr. Pickering never forgot his ties to the Michigan Law School, and remained an active and generous friend of the school throughout his life. He died at age eighty-nine on March 19, 2005.—Eds.