the discipline system who would understand the
challenges faced by solo practitioners and small firm
practitioners," said Madden. "Mike brings a good balance of
toughness and compassion."
Nisperos, who works in the city manager's
office as the public safety liaison, has worked in city government,
the military and in small law firms. He says he is looking forward to
the challenge of running the discipline system of the nations's
largest state bar. "I am delighted to have the opportunity of
leading the team of professionals who are committed to maintaining the
protection of the public and the integrity of the legal system in the
state of California," said Nisperos.
Judge Peggy Hora of the Alameda County Superior
Court said she was "thrilled" by the news of Nisperos'
selection. "He is dedicated to working with a diversity of
people," she said, "and he has excellent negotiating and people
Sees both sides
Former Oakland Mayor Elihu Harris praised the
selection of Nisperos, saying, "Mike understands victims' rights,
professional responsibility and ethics." His professional and
personal background will bring a wealth of expertise to the State
Bar's discipline system, said Harris, "because he understands both
sides of the equation."
Gilda Gonzales, chief of staff to Oakland Mayor
Jerry Brown and City Manager Robert Bobb, said Nisperos will be sorely
missed in her city. "The State Bar has wisely selected Mike," said
Gonzales. "He is an innovative problem solver who has a proven track
record for fixing systems that needed his insights and intellect."
In 1987, Nisperos worked as a trial attorney for
the Immigration and Naturalization Service, but admitted himself to a
drug rehabilitation program when he realized he had a substance abuse
problem. "I was an alcoholic and later used cocaine," he said.
Nisperos came to the attention of Oakland city
officials after he wrote a proposal to combat the area's drug
problems, tapping his personal experiences with drug use and
In 1991, he was named director of the mayor's
Office of Drugs and Crime, where he coordinated the enforcement,
prevention and education efforts directed toward the reduction of
crime and drug abuse.
He is especially proud that during this period
homicides in Oakland dropped from 175 to 58 in one year.
Nisperos' family tree goes back at least 17
generations in the United States on his mother's side. He was born
in her home state of Mississippi in 1949. His father came to the U.S.
from the Philippines in 1927, earning a living as a restaurant worker,
boxer and gambling house proprietor. He eventually went to night
school and trained to be a welder.
A 1978 graduate of Boalt Hall School of Law,
Nisperos received his undergraduate degree in rhetoric from the
University of California, Berkeley, in 1975. After law school, he
spent a few years working for the district attorney's office in
Alameda County. He also spent time as a real estate broker, worked for
a few small law firms and had a short stint as a college instructor.
A Vietnam-era veteran, Nisperos served in the
U.S. Marine Corps from 1968-71 and with the Judge Advocate General
Corps in the U.S. Air Force from 1982-86. In late 1990, he served as a
Judge Advocate Recall Volunteer during Operation Desert Shield.
A former member of the Oakland Planning
Commission (1980-82), Nisperos served on the board of directors
(1988-90) of Swords to Plowshares, a veterans' service organization,
and is a founding member of the Filipino Bar Association of Northern
is currently a representative on the Judicial Council of
California's court planning team in Alameda County, as well as a
member of the Alameda County Bar Association's confidential
assistance program for attorneys.
Nisperos and his wife, Eleanor, an administrative
law judge with the state's unemployment insurance appeals board,
have two children, Michael, 26 and Marlo, 23. They reside in Oakland,
but Nisperos' new position will require his relocation to the State
Bar's offices in Los Angeles.