Theodore Sorensen, a Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison lawyer who served as a key adviser and speechwriter to President John F. Kennedy, died Sunday. He was 82.
Sorensen lived in New York, but he is best known for his work in Washington for Kennedy — helping write Profiles in Courage, advising during the Cuban missile
crisis and creating soaring rhetoric that helped define the Kennedy presidency. He was responsible for much of the work on Kennedy's inaugural address, including “ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”(Click here for The New York Times story on Sorensen's life and work.)
Sorensen practiced at Paul, Weiss for more than three decades as a senior partner and later as of counsel, focusing on international law. A native of Lincoln, Neb., he received his J.D. from the University of Nebraska College of Law in 1951.
Paul, Weiss chair Brad Karp issued the following statement to the firm early this afternoon:
To: The Paul, Weiss Community
I am profoundly saddened to report that our beloved friend and partner Ted Sorensen passed away today at age 82.
Ted Sorensen was a giant, a national treasure, who served our nation and our law firm with great distinction for more than 50 years. Ted was a remarkable man who lived a remarkable life to the fullest extent imaginable, a life marked by grace, wit, wisdom, brilliance and integrity.
Ted’s impact on our nation was enormous and has been well chronicled, especially his service to President Kennedy in times of grave crisis. Ted provided equally wise counsel to his clients and his partners at Paul Weiss – from sovereign nations and world leaders struggling to create sustainable democracies, to Fortune 100 companies seeking franchise-protecting advice, to Paul, Weiss lawyers seeking counsel about matters large and small, professional and personal.
At our firm, Ted was a continual font of wisdom, energy and good humor. Ted was an irrepressible force and friend, always on the side of right and justice. Ted’s annual State of the Firm addresses are legendary, delivered in Ted’s unique style, punctuated by his galloping prose and his inimitable wit.
Our firm, and our lives, are greatly diminished by the passing of Ted Sorensen. We will never see his likes again.
On behalf of the entire Paul, Weiss community, I extend our heartfelt sympathies to Gillian and to the entire Sorensen family. May this great man rest in peace.
There will be no funeral. Details of a memorial service celebrating Ted’s life will be announced shortly.