Chris Pickett

Chris Pickett, who previously worked as a public defender in rural Missouri and St. Louis city, is a partner at Greensfelder, Hemker & Gale, P.C. specializing in employment law.

Last July Chris Pickett became a partner at Greensfelder, Hemker & Gale, P.C., one of the highest-ranking law firms in St. Louis.

“That is something that doesn’t happen a lot to African Americans,” Pickett said.

As a trial lawyer, Pickett specializes in working with employers to solve employment disputes, including wrongful termination and discrimination claims. He represents financial institutions and national brokerage firms in breach of post-employment contractual obligation disputes, including trade secret violations.

He also represents brokerage firms with other commercial litigation, class action defense in both state and federal courts, and arbitration.

“Chris has been an excellent addition to Greensfelder,” said Wendy Menghini, manager of the litigation practice group for Greensfelder, Hemker & Gale, P.C. “He is a practical, tenacious advocate and his expertise in trade secret and restrictive covenant litigation is a nice complement to our existing practice.”

Pickett was recently accepted into the 2013-14 Leadership Council on Legal Diversity Fellows Program. He joins a fellows’ class of 160 high-potential attorneys employed at large law firms and in-house legal departments nationally. Participation in this national council is one of several diversity and inclusion initiatives that have been implemented at the firm.

“Chris has been a great addition to our firm and provides thoughtful legal counsel for our clients,” said Vincent Garozzo, president of Greensfelder. “We are very proud of Chris and pleased that he is representing Greensfelder in this one-of-a-kind program.”

Because of the firm's commitment to recruit and retain a diverse workforce, Washington University’s Black Law Student Association honored Greensfelder with its Legal Employer Diversity Award last February. Other awards and honors include recognition by U.S. News & World Report and St. Louis Small Business Monthly as one of the Best Law Firms (2013 and June 2012, respectively).

Pickett embarked on an unconventional path to his professional specialty in one of the state’s urban centers. After earning a Juris Doctor from Saint Louis University’s School of Law, he began his career working as a public defender for two years in rural Vernon County, Missouri, located south of Kansas City.

“They are on the other side of the world,” Pickett said of Vernon County.

A public defender never chooses his client, nor does the client choose his or her lawyer, Pickett says. His first client happened to be a white supremacist.

“He was clearly unhappy when I walked into that jail cell,” Pickett said.

Pickett re-located to the St. Louis city Public Defenders Office in 2004. Being a public defender in the city versus rural Missouri was a different experience, he says, citing differences in the quantity of work, criminal conduct, judges, prosecutors, police and trials.

When asked whether there are misconceptions about public defenders, he said most people don't think public defenders are real lawyers.

“We are real lawyers, we just happen to work for the state representing people who can’t afford to hire a private attorney,” he said.

Next he joined Goldberg Wehrle LLC, a small private law practice in Creve Coeur, as a staff attorney. When he later became a partner, the practice was renamed Goldberg Pickett, LLC.

“Your path does not have to be a straight line,” he said. “You don’t know where you’re going to end up. The most important thing is to stay prepared so that when the opportunity presents itself, you can take advantage of it.”

Pickett does not only seize opportunity for his own benefit. He also enjoys volunteering his time to help others.

Pickett serves on the Board of Directors for Arch City Defenders, a nonprofit corporation dedicated to providing legal counsel to the poor facing state prosecution, as well as providing services aiming to remedy or mitigate any client's mental illness, substance abuse, or other disabilities or disorders.

He’s also a member of the Regional Business Council, American Bar Association, Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis, St. Louis County Bar Association and Mound City Bar Association.

“From day one, he has thrived in the Greensfelder culture,” Menghini said, “and immediately took an active role in training and mentoring our young lawyers.”

Follow this reporter on Twitter: @BridjesONeil.

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