Tribute to John Pickering

It is very appropriate that we are here today to honor John Pickering, who, for more than five decades, was a leading member of our bar. I first met John when I joined the small firm of Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering in 1964, two years after it was founded. The three founding fathers of the firm were formidable figures, particularly to a young lawyer, and John Pickering was no exception. I do not mean that John was unkind. He was the kindest of people. But there was something particularly serious about him, and I always wondered whether that had to do with growing up in the prewar years. He had a demeanor that seemed to preclude coming to work in casual clothes or bantering during the work day or taking the associates out to a local watering spot after work. I remember that John’s secretary was known as “Miss Blackney”; there was a formality even about John’s secretary.