San Francisco trial attorney John Keker has had his celebrity clients, including Lance Armstrong and George Lucas. He has had his share of white-collar cases, including Frank Quattrone and Andrew Fastow. And he has had big political trials, including his prosecution of Lt. Col. Oliver North during the Iran-Contra scandal.
Keker, sitting in his light- and art-filled office in front of a portrait of Napoleon, smiles and confesses: "I like it when everybody says, 'This is the worst person in the world - let's kill him!' I love to stand between an imperfect human being and the full weight of the hypocritical, holier-than-thou masses. I love to fight with people about things I care about."
The 68-year-old Keker, who lives in San Francisco's Russian Hill - and vows never to move south of California Street or west of Van Ness Avenue - has been practicing law for four decades and is considered one of the country's greatest trial lawyers. He is combative and pragmatic, and has the button-down looks of an attorney while sporting the black boots of an agitator. He is an expert in human nature and a student of motivation and morality.
"The part of law that I don't find fascinating is: Who has power? Who gets power? Who keeps power?" Keker said. "The part of law that I love is the people part."
KQED radio host Michael Krasny says of Keker: "John is a guy who came out of the fires of Vietnam, and you think of him as a soldiers' soldier, a leader of men, which he is. But he's also a lay philosopher. He has a keen intellect. He's a thinker."
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Since founding the firm in 1978, John Keker has built a reputation as one of the country's top trial lawyers. Four decades of jury trials in white collar criminal cases, complex commercial and intellectual property cases, antitrust and securities cases, even palimony cases, establish him as the lawyer clients turn to for their most important and high-profile litigation problems.
The American Lawyer described him as “a giant of the IP trial bar.” The California Lawyer said he was “the lawyer other attorneys would turn to if they were in trouble.” The San Francisco Chronicle called him “the Number One Lawyer in the Bay Area,” and the California State Bar inducted him into its “Litigation Hall of Fame.” The National Law Journal named him as one of the “Top 100 Most Influential Lawyers in the United States.”