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Lloyd Cutler, a White House counsel for Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton and a founding partner of Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr, died May 8 in Washington. He was 87. The cause of death was complications from a broken hip, Wilmer Cutler chairman William Perlstein said. During his six-decades-long career, Cutler helped build a national law firm and served every presidential administration since John F. Kennedy’s. Louis Cohen, a longtime colleague at Wilmer, says that through his accomplishments and commitment to law, Cutler “defined what it means to be a lawyer.” From the start, Cutler was dedicated to public policy and service. He helped galvanize lawyers’ involvement in the civil rights movement and co-chaired the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, a nonpartisan organization founded at the request of President Kennedy in 1963. During the 1980s, he spearheaded efforts to undermine South African apartheid through the legal system, founding the Southern Africa Legal Services and Legal Education Project. In private practice, Cutler represented a diverse array of clients, from the Kaiser companies, IBM, CBS, and the Washington Post Co. to former Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and George Shultz. But Cutler also faced criticism for his work on behalf of big industry. In particular, Cutler’s work on behalf of car companies over safety measures landed him a vocal critic in consumer advocate Ralph Nader, who led a group to protest Cutler’s law firm. Cutler, who was born in 1917 in New York, was the son of a trial lawyer at the law firm of Fiorello LaGuardia, the future congressman and mayor of New York. Cutler graduated from Yale Law School in 1939 and then served as law clerk to Judge Charles Clark on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit before taking a position at the firm now called Cravath, Swaine & Moore. During World War II, Cutler moved to Washington to work in the Lend-Lease Administration and then at the Department of Justice. Following the war, Cutler, along with his Lend-Lease Administration colleagues, set up their own private practice. In 1962, he merged that practice with John Pickering’s firm, Wilmer & Broun, a spin-off of Cravath’s D.C. outpost, led by Dick Wilmer. Cutler had met Pickering as an associate at Cravath. They formed Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering, which quickly blossomed into one of the largest firms in the nation’s capital. Cutler’s death comes only weeks after the passing of Pickering, who died on March 19 at age 89. “It is really a passing of an era in this town,” says Wilmer’s Perlstein. The firm that bears both their names has transformed from an inside-the-Beltway player into a national firm. Last year, Wilmer Cutler merged with Boston-based Hale and Dorr. The firm now has more than 1,000 lawyers and offices in 12 cities around the world. Cutler moved in and out of government throughout his career. In 1979, he was appointed White House counsel to President Jimmy Carter and served as special counsel for the unsuccessful bid to ratify the Salt II arms control treaty. In 1994, Cutler served a brief stint as White House counsel to President Clinton during the Whitewater investigation. Cutler also was an accomplished litigator. He argued nine cases before the Supreme Court, including a prominent victory in Buckley v. Valeo, which upheld the constitutionality of the post-Watergate campaign finance reform law. Though a Democrat, Cutler won respect on both sides of the political aisle and crossed party lines on some issues. For instance, he vehemently opposed Democratic efforts to thwart conservative Judge Robert Bork’s nomination to the Supreme Court in 1987. In the last year of his life, he served on President George W. Bush’s commission to investigate intelligence failures during the run-up to the war in Iraq and current intelligence capabilities. Cutler’s first wife, Louise Howe Cutler, died in 1988. He is survived by his second wife, Polly Kraft; his three daughters, Deborah Notman, Beverly Cutler, and Louisiana Cutler; his son, Norton Cutler; and eight grandchildren. Emma Schwartz can be contacted at [email protected].

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