Keith Fink

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Keith Fink
Alma materUniversity of California, Los Angeles
OccupationLawyer, academic, legal commentator
  • 1982 National Collegiate Debate Champion
  • 1983 National Collegiate Debate Champion
  • 1984 National Collegiate Debate Champion

Keith Allen Fink is an American attorney and legal commentator. Fink is known for his involvement in many high profile legal cases and his aggressiveness as a litigator. He has represented a series of celebrity clients including Courtney Love, Dita Von Teese and Stephen Bier ("Pogo"). His most notable cases include defeating Rodney King's malpractice lawsuit against his lawyers stemming from the LAPD excessive force verdict, and as counsel for a Pasadena business who got in a contract dispute with Ellen DeGeneres dubbed by the media as "Iggygate".[1]


UCLA’s debate captain Keith Fink with debate coach Tom Miller after capturing UCLA’s first national debate championship
UCLA’s debate captain Keith Fink with debate coach Tom Miller after capturing UCLA’s first national debate championship

Keith Fink was born in Santa Monica, California and grew up in Bel Air, California. He attended University High School and then went to college at the University of California, Los Angeles where he was a collegiate debate star.[2][3] While winning the National Collegiate Debate Championship three years in a row, Fink won dozens of debate tournaments throughout the country.[4] Fink and his debate partner Lisa Allred set the single season college debate record for most tournament wins in a year while juniors.[4] In addition to being a dedicated and fierce debate competitor, Fink was known for his unbreakable work ethic and imaginative method of case-creation.[2]

His college debate coach said Fink was the greatest debater in UCLA history.[2] Fink was a frequent panelist on the television show Youth & The Issues while at UCLA.[4]

After college, Fink taught Debate at the Harvard School while also editing a college debate handbook called Fink's Files, which provided analysis and arguments on the yearly college debate topic. Fink also taught Speech at Stephen S. Wise Temple.[citation needed]

Legal career[edit]

Fink's legal career began as an Associate Attorney at Cotkin, Collins & Franscell and subsequently Kindel & Anderson, where his primary focus was litigating 42 U.S.C. § 1983 cases. Fink later joined Baker & Hostetler.[5] During his early years as an attorney, Fink successfully litigated numerous 42 U.S.C. § 1983 cases, leading to several published judicial opinions.[6][7][8][9][10][11][12]

Fink's focus subsequently shifted to labor, employment, business, and commercial litigation. In 1997, Fink founded Keith A. Fink & Associates, a boutique litigation firm that primarily handles employment discrimination law, labor, business, civil rights, and entertainment law matters. Fink is currently the principal at Keith A. Fink & Associates.[13]

Fink litigates a wide variety of cases in both state and federal courts throughout California. He also litigates throughout the United States and in Asia, where he maintains an office in Macau. Fink's experience as a labor and employment attorney is extensive; the vast majority of his career has involved representing both employees and employers in wrongful termination, discrimination, harassment, and wage & hour lawsuits. Fink has also handled upwards of 300 appeals, many of which resulted in published opinions (including cases in the Supreme Court of California[6] and United States Supreme Court.[14]

Notable cases[edit]

Rodney King (2001)[edit]

After the civil verdict in the Rodney King civil rights case the federal court awarded King's attorneys who worked on the case 1.7 million in statutory attorneys fees which were in addition to the 3.8 million awarded by the jury. King's lawyer, Stephen Lerman, distributed the attorneys fees to the lawyers who worked on King's behalf. King then sued Lerman for legal malpractice claiming King was entitled to those attorneys fees instead of his lawyers. Lerman hired Fink to defend him against King and Fink prevailed in the action by having the case dismissed on summary judgment which was affirmed on appeal.[15]

Babyface (2002)[edit]

Fink filed a pregnancy discrimination action against R&B singer Babyface and his former wife Tracey Edmonds after an employee of Edmonds Entertainment Group became pregnant and was alleged to have been fired after she refused to have an abortion. The employee claimed she was offered between 20,000 and 150,000 to have a late term abortion.[16]

American Apparel (2005)[edit]

In 2005, Fink filed a sexual harassment suit against American Apparel's founder Dov Charney.[17] Fink claimed in a Businessweek article that the environment at American Apparel made Animal House look like choir practice. Fink then filed several additional lawsuits against American Apparel. American Apparel and its CEO Charney cyber-attacked Fink as a result of the lawsuits.[18]

Ellen DeGeneres (2007)[edit]

In 2007 Ellen DeGeneres got into a media brawl with Fink over an adopted dog named Iggy in a matter which was labeled by the press as "Iggy Gate." DeGeneres and her partner Portia de Rossi had adopted Iggy from a small Pasadena California business named Mutts and Moms. Iggy had been rescued by Mutts and Moms before being euthanized. Several weeks after Iggy was adopted, DeGeneres and de Rossi had given the dog away to Ellen's hairstylist, as Iggy did not get along with the couple's cats. Ellen unintentionally broke her agreement to return Iggy to the organization if she did not wish to keep him, and Iggy was taken by Mutts and Moms. Fink was hired by Mutts and Moms to enforce the contract Mutts and Moms had with DeGeneres.[1]

Marilyn Manson (2007)[edit]

The Marilyn Manson band was one of the most successful bands in rock and roll history. The band which originally had five members had only two original members left by 2008. They were Manson and keyboardist Stephen Bier who went by the stage name Pogo. After Bier complained about not receiving his partnership share from Manson he was ejected from the band. Fink filed suit on Bier's behalf with a complaint detailing a laundry list of bizarre usage of partnership money.[citation needed]

Johnny Rotten (2008)[edit]

The Sex Pistols singer was sued by Fink in 2008 when a talent producer claimed he called her derogatory names and punched her in the face in the Ritz Carlton Hotel when "the rocker was forced to stay in a room at the Ritz Carlton Hotel that didn't share a door with his assistant.[19] The incident stemmed from Rotten's appearance on the reality show Battle of the Bands. The suit also alleged that the assistant had to work in a hostile environment which was due in part to having to test strip clubs for clients and staff. Rotten objected to his deposition being videotaped. The suit settled in 2010 for an undisclosed sum.[20]

Courtney Love (2009)[edit]

Fink represented Courtney Love in a number of lawsuits including a defamation claim involving Love's use of Twitter, a claim by AMEX she ran up hundreds of thousands in debt[21] and an intellectual property action against Activision that stemmed from the use of Love's ex-husband Kurt Cobain's avatar in the Guitar Hero game.

Dita Von Teese (2008–)[edit]

The famous burlesque model is a client of Fink's. Ironically Von Teese is divorced from Marilyn Manson who Fink sued in the Manson-Pogo partnership dispute. He has brought a number of interesting lawsuits on her behalf. He filed an action on behalf of Von Teese against dominatrix, Cynthia Butler, who was alleged to have stolen half of her rights to a movie entitled "Slick City."[22] Von Teese prevailed in that action and retained all her intellectual property rights in the film.[23] Recently he filed a lawsuit on Von Teese's behalf against an anti-Semitic landlord who refused to return her security deposit.[24]

Christian Brando (2008)[edit]

After Marlon Brando's son Christian died in 2008, a family dispute arose over the burial of Christian Brando. Fink was retained by Brando's brother, sister and long time girlfriend, to preclude his body from being buried in Washington. Christian Brando had desired to have his body cremated and his ashes spread with his father's in Franklin Park.[25]

Ida Ljungqvist (2009)[edit]

Ida Ljungqvist a Playboy Playmate is one of the many models Fink represents. Ljungqvist, after becoming Playmate of the year, was accused by an estranged ex-wife of taking child support money. Fink defended the lawsuit and quickly had the case dismissed.[26]

Chris Paciello (2009–)[edit]

Fink keeps busy handling the many legal matters his famed South Beach nightclub owner, Chris Paciello, gets into. Paciello, who gained notoriety for starting Club Liquid in Miami in the 90s and dating a slew of Hollywood's top celebrities including Madonna, continuously gets in litigation. Fink has handled on Paciello's behalf an assault with a deadly weapon charge that resulted outside of a nightclub, an incident of a claimed false arrest and civil rights violation by a business partner, and a dispute over an investment in a Hollywood restaurant.[27][28]

ESPN v. Cicada Restaurant (2010)[edit]

ESPN got into a legal battle with one of Hollywood's most famous restaurants when it sent a cease and desist letter to the restaurant demanding Cicada Restaurant not host an "ESPY Awards Party". Cicada which is housed in a famous 1920's Art Deco building where such movies as Pretty Woman, The Artist and Mr. and Mrs. Smith have been filmed, hired Fink to deal with ESPN's threat of trademark infringement. Fink fired back to ESPN's legal threat with a scathing letter noting that "the whole situation was more of a farce than the 'King James' show aired by ESPN and Cicada wound up hosting their party as planned.[29]

Jason Bailey (2010)[edit]

Jason Bailey played in the Anaheim Ducks organization in 2008-9. During that time while playing for the Ducks affiliate the Bakersfireld Condors, Bailey alleged he was subjected to anti-Semitic comments from the team's coaches.[30] Bailey hired Fink who filed a lawsuit against the Anaheim Ducks.[31]

Ronnie Wood (2010)[edit]

Wood a member of the Rolling Stones was alleged by photographer Matheu to have painted his Rod and Ronnie painting by using a photograph Matheu took at a live performance when they sang together as The Faces. Matheu sued the art galleries that sold the painting and Fink represented galleries in Los Angeles, Las Vegas and San Francisco. Fink sued Ronnie Wood on behalf of the galleries claiming Wood had an indemnity obligation to the galleries which he refused to honor.[32]

Jon Voight (2011)[edit]

Actor Jon Voight sued a boutique Beverly Hills law firm for malicious prosecution. Fink defended the attorneys in the malicious prosecution suit and had the lawsuit dismissed by way of an anti-SLAPP motion. Voight was then ordered to pay Fink's client, the law firm, over $100,000.[33]

Kobe Bryant (2011)[edit]

One of Fink's many art gallery clients is Art of the Game which has galleries in the Staples Center, Dodgers Stadium and Anaheim Stadium. Art of the Game sells sports memorabilia as well art. Los Angeles Lakers famed guard Kobe Bryant in 2009 entered into a license agreement for his intellectual property rights with an Italian company called Panini. Panini sued Art of the Game claiming Bryant's intellectual property rights were violated based on Art of the Game's sale of signed Bryant memorabilia and paintings of Bryant by the famous sports artist Stephen Holland. Panini and Bryant also claimed in the suit that Bryant's signature was not authentic. Fink categorically denied Panini and Bryant's claims and submitted proof that Bryant's signatures were authentic and that Panini's claims to the contrary were false. Panini quickly dismissed its lawsuit after Art of the Game submitted evidence that Panini's claims were spurious.[34]

Reeves Nelson and UCLA Basketball (2012)[edit]

In March 2011 Sports Illustrated ran a lengthy story highly critical of the way UCLA basketball coach Ben Howland had run UCLA's program.[35] Former UCLA basketball star Reeves Nelson was mentioned in the article as having attacked and harmed players on his own team. Fink was hired by Nelson and challenged the claims made by SI calling the article "yellow journalism at its worst." Fink claimed to have confirmed in writing from the players SI alleged to have been injured by Nelson that SI's claims were false.[36]

Cyndy Garvey (2013)[edit]

Former talk show host Cyndy Garvey of "The Morning Show" with Regis Philbin and ex-wife of MLB star Steve Garvey sued UCLA claiming she was duped into enrolling in the School of Public Health. Garvey's suit claimed she initially had no interest in going back to school and did so only because she was offered a free ride by a rich alumnus and UCLA which would benefit from her celebrity status. Garvey retained Fink who sued UCLA.[37]


Fink began teaching as an Adjunct Professor at Southwestern Law School in 1993. He taught Civil Rights & Civil Liberties, Labor Law, Employment Discrimination, and Pretrial Civil Practice.[38]

In the 2007-2008 academic year, Fink stopped teaching at Southwestern Law School to begin teaching at UCLA, his alma mater. For the next decade, Fink's teaching focused on the First Amendment, freedom of speech, employment law, entertainment law, and debate. Fink designed and taught four widely-popular[39] courses: Race, Sex & Politics: Free Speech on Campus; Free Speech in the Workplace; Entertainment Law[40]; and Abortion, Gun Control, and the Death Penalty: Arguing Contemporary Social Issues[41].[42]

Fink's classes were widely well-received by students; many describe his classes as among the "most influential and developmentally-important classes they've taken at UCLA"[43], some going as far to say that his classes "teach tolerance without imposing tolerance."[44][43] Fink's Free Speech in the Workplace course was recently ranked by the Daily Bruin as one of the "Top 25 Best Classes" at UCLA."[45]

Throughout the first half of 2017, Fink was engaged in a high-profile academic freedom dispute with UCLA administrators[46], ultimately leading up to Laura E. Gómez (the former Dean of Social Sciences) opting not to promote him to Continuing Lecturer, effectively ending his employment with the Department of Communication Studies on June 30, 2017.


In 1999 Fink was one of the original cast on the television show Power of Attorney. The show featured prominent attorneys arguing real cases before Judge Andrew Napolitano.[47] Fink has been on many other notable television shows, many clips of him can be found on YouTube.


  1. ^ a b Tresniowski, Alex (November 5, 2007), "A Dog Gone Shame", People, vol. 68 no. 19
  2. ^ a b c "UCLA Communication Studies". Retrieved 2017-09-11.
  3. ^ "UCLA TRUE BRUIN". Retrieved 2017-09-11.
  4. ^ a b c "Room For Debate - Keith A. Fink". Retrieved 2017-09-11.
  5. ^ "Baker | The American Lawyer". Retrieved 2017-09-12.
  6. ^ a b "Williams v. Superior Court, 852 P.2d 377 (Cal. 1993)".
  7. ^ "Romberg v. Nichols 953 F.2d 1152 (9th Cir.)".
  8. ^ "Credit Managers Association v. Kennesaw Life Ins., 25 F.3d 743 (9th Cir 1994)".
  9. ^ "Wilks v. Reyes, 5 F.3d 412 (9th Cir. 1993)".
  10. ^ "Alliance Ins. Co. v. Colella, 995 F.2d 944 (9th Cir. 1993)".
  11. ^ "Brooks v. Cook, 938 F.2d 1048 (9th Cir. 1991)".
  12. ^ "Grant-Burton v. Covenant Care, 99 Cal. App. 4th 1361 (2002)".
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  14. ^ Farrar v. Hobby, 506 U.S. 103 (1992) [amicus]
  15. ^ Ofgang, Kenneth (October 3, 2001), "Appeals Court Rejects Rodney King's Malpractice Suit Against Lerman", Metropolitan News-Enterprise
  16. ^ Johnson, Billy (August 28, 2002), "Babyface Act 3rd Storee Calls Sex Discrimination Suit Plan of Deception", Yahoo News, archived from the original on January 1, 2013
  17. ^ "Living on the Edge at American Apparel", [Businessweek], vol. 68 no. 19, June 27, 2005
  18. ^ "Lawyer Who Sued Company is Target of Claimed Cyber Attack Campaign", [ABA Journal], vol. 68 no. 19, January 27, 2009
  19. ^ Tresniowski, Alex (December 2, 2009), "Never Mind the Sex Charge, It's Johnny Rotten!", [The Wrap], vol. 68 no. 19
  20. ^ "Sex Pistol Off the Hook in Alleged Woman-Punch Lawsuit", [TMZ], vol. 68 no. 19, November 11, 2010
  21. ^ Justice, Celebrity (May 28, 2009), "Lawyer Who Sued Company is Target of Claimed Cyber Attack Campaign", [TMZ]
  22. ^ "CRACK THE WHIP", New York Post, January 9, 2008
  23. ^ Altman, Larry (July 25, 2008), "Just a Tease: Dita Von Teese Wins Rights to Fetish Film", South Bay Crimes and Court, archived from the original on January 10, 2011
  24. ^ "Just a Tease: Dita Von Teese Wins Rights to Fetish Film", TMZ, October 18, 2011
  25. ^ "KIN BATTLE OVER BRANDO BODY", City News Service, January 30, 2008
  26. ^ "Playmate Victory: Woman's Lawsuit Against Playboy Centerfold of the Year Dropped", City News Service, May 28, 2009, archived from the original on January 23, 2013
  27. ^ "Madonna ex-boyfriend Chris Paciello accused of arranging phony arrest", New York Daily News, July 19, 2009
  28. ^ "Club convict busted again", New York Post, February 9, 2010
  29. ^ "War Erupts Over 'ESPYs' Pre-Party", TMZ, July 13, 2010
  30. ^ "Details emerge of Jason Bailey's suit", ESPN, January 27, 2011
  31. ^ "Anaheim Ducks Accused of Abusing Jewish Player", TMZ, January 25, 2011
  32. ^ "Every Lithograph Tells A Story", New York Post, April 17, 2011
  33. ^ Heatherman, Bill, "Jon Voight Ordered to Pay Attorneys Fees", City News, archived from the original on 2013-01-23
  34. ^ "Jon Voight Ordered to Pay Attorneys Fees", TMZ, May 11, 2011
  35. ^ Dohrmann, George (March 5, 2012), "Special Report: Not the UCLA Way", Sports Illustrated
  36. ^ Yoon, Peter (March 2, 2012), "Reeves Nelson lawyer wants retraction", ESPN
  37. ^ "CYNDY GARVEY SUES U.C.L.A. S.C.R.E.W.E.D. M.E.", TMZ, January 29, 2013
  38. ^ "Faculty Guide" (PDF), Southwestern Law School, 2007
  39. ^ UCLA Media, Daily Bruin (2017), Keith Fink Bruinwalk Reviews
  40. ^ "COMM ST 164 - Entertainment Law". UCLA Department of Communication Studies. 2015-09-07. Archived from the original on 2015-09-07. Retrieved 2017-08-29.
  41. ^ "COMM ST 184 - Abortion, Gun Control, and the Death Penalty". UCLA Communication Studies. 2016-08-09. Archived from the original on 2015-09-07.
  42. ^ "UCLA Communications Department", UCLA, 2010
  43. ^ a b Litt, Andrew. "At UCLA, free speech is suppressed and double standards reign". Washington Examiner. Retrieved 2017-09-13.
  44. ^ "Student Evaluation of Teaching, ("Teach tolerance without imposing tolerance")" (PDF). 2017-03-28. Retrieved 2017-09-10.
  45. ^ "The 25 best and worst UCLA classes, according to students". Retrieved 2017-09-13.
  46. ^ Brown, Sarah (July 1, 2017), "Why Did a UCLA Instructor With a Popular Free-Speech Course Lose His Job?", Chronicle of Higher Education
  47. ^ "Keith A. Fink", IMDB, 2010