Executive director begins
promised trimming, eliminates
45 positions to save $3 million


Eight management positions, including two senior executive staff and one State Bar Court judge position, were eliminated in what Nissen characterized as “the first wave” of cost cutting. Other additional cuts include four confidential and 32 bargaining unit (union) positions.

Nissen described the staffing cuts as a “painful series of decisions that had to be made…. Either we can make the tough decisions or we can let others do it for us. We owe it to our members, the people of California and the legislature to put our own house in financial order.”

Making the bar a more efficient operation is part of what was expected of him when he was hired, Nissen said. “The board of governors expected me to take a fresh, critical look at how we serve our members and the public,” he said, “and they expected new efficiencies.”

In November, Nissen rescinded executive staff raises that came to light on his first day on the job.

Budget cuts began in October when Gov. Pete Wilson vetoed the bill authorizing the bar to collect member fees to fund its operations in 1998. Cost-cutting measures already undertaken include a hiring freeze, severe reduction of travel for staff and volunteers, and ongoing scrutiny of program expenditures.

Further cost-cutting measures will be required if either one of the bills pending before the legislature to restructure the bar is passed. (See story beginning on page 1.)