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Small Firm, Big Agenda

California Law Business

From the moment John W. Keker marched into a Washington D.C. courtroom to lead the charge in the prosecution of retired Lt. Col. Oliver North, the clash between the two ex-Marines captured the nation’s imagination.

Mr. Keker’s forceful four-day cross-examination and his controversial summation - in which he likened the White House operative to Adolf Hitler - catapulted him to national prominence as a lawyer who faced down Mr. North in the legal equivalent of hand-to-hand combat.

Three years after Mr. Keker’s prosecution of Mr. North, headline cases and heavyweight clients are still lining up at the doors of the firm where he is a name partner; 24- attorney Keker, Brockett & Van Nest – arguably California’s premier litigation boutique.

Founded 14 years ago by Mr. Keker, 48, and William A. Brockett, Jr., 51, the San Francisco criminal and civil litigation boutique has come a long way from its early days as a two-man criminal defense firm.

The former federal public defenders once drove along the streets of downtown San Francisco pointing to the banks their clients were accused of holding up, Mr. Brockett recalls. “Today we’ve moved up from bank robbers to bank presidents,” Mr. Brockett says, adding, “who are sometimes equally colorful.”