December 20, 2014
STEVEN ALAN FINK [#93762], 60, of Newport Beach, was placed on probation for two years and ordered to take the MPRE. He also faces a one-year suspension if he does not comply with the terms of his disciplinary probation. The order took effect Dec. 20, 2014. The State Bar Court found Fink culpable of five counts of misconduct in a single client matter including failure to perform with competence, failure to respond to client inquiries, failure to refund unearned fees, failure to render accounts of client funds and failure to cooperate in State Bar investigation. In 2012, Fink was hired to help a client collect on an arbitration award. After his efforts were unsuccessful, the client paid him to file a formal petition to confirm the award. In January 2013, Fink filed the petition and told the client he would let him know if there had been a response and whether a hearing had been scheduled. He did not because he never filed the petition. The following month, the client emailed asking for a status update and Fink assured him he would get back to him with a declaration to sign the following week. When he didnâ€™t, the client sent a series of three emails asking for a status update, but Fink did not respond. In May 2013, the client filed a complaint against Fink with the State Bar. That, June, the client traveled to California and stopped at Finkâ€™s office, where he confronted him about his lack of responsiveness. Fink apologized and soon after sent him the declaration to review. That July, the client again asked for a status report and Fink told him that a hearing had been set, but it had not. Thinking Fink was moving forward in his matter, the client asked the State Bar to halt its investigation. When the client did not see the supposed hearing date on the courtâ€™s calendar, he contacted the State Bar again and requested that the investigation proceed. On Sept. 4, 2013, a State Bar investigator sent Fink a letter asking him to respond to the charges against him. He did not reply. He also didnâ€™t reply to a letter from the client asking for an accounting and the return of unearned fees. When the investigator sent a second letter requesting a response to the allegations, Fink did not respond but sent a substitution of attorney form to the client. A few days later, he mailed the client a cashierâ€™s check for the fees and costs the client had advanced him minus the filing fee for the petition. In mitigation, Fink had no prior record of discipline, he demonstrated candor and remorse, presented evidence of his good character, presented proof of significant community service and cooperated with the State Bar by entering into an extensive stipulation.