|honed in the foreign service, the organizational history of over a decade
working in bar programs and administration, and the firm commitment to reshape and
re-engineer the State Bar as we rebuild."
Gersick, who joined the bar in 1985, will
have his hands full with organizational initiatives already under way: passage of a fee
bill in Sacramento, reinstating the discipline system, moving into a new building in San
Francisco, negotiating a new contract for employees and the overall restructuring of the
"Given the reduced level of funding we expect, the need to restructure is obvious
and the commitment is universal," Gersick said.
On the legislative front, he began traveling to Sacramento to meet with lawmakers last
month. The message he brings emphasizes a streamlined, more efficient bar which is
"different from the image many have in their mind," he said.
Gersick said he hopes to survive the coming year with "my optimism undaunted and
my sense of humor intact."
A graduate of Yale University, Gersick received his law degree at Hastings College of
the Law and practiced law in San Francisco before spending four years in the U.S. Foreign
Service, primarily as a foreign service officer assigned to the U.S. Embassy in South
Former board member and San Diego journalist Peter Kaye said of Gersick, "Through
all the months of turmoil, Jeff consistently remained the good guy."
Immediate past president Marc Adelman said, "He's a wise
choice," calling Gersick "as knowledgeable about the State Bar as anyone can
Nissen, 48, became a special assistant to Gov. Gray Davis March 20, overseeing
innovation in government projects in Sacramento.
Nissen, who became executive director two weeks after former Gov. Pete Wilson vetoed
the bar's dues bill, presided over a turbulent 16 months marked by layoffs of more than
500 employees and unsuccessful efforts to assuage hostile lawmakers in Sacramento.
Although he said "nobody could be satisfied" with the past year and a half,
Nissen feels confident that he began to lay a foundation for a leaner and more efficient
He concentrated most of his attention on simplifying the bar's budget to make it more
understandable and restoring trust between the bar and the legislative and executive
branches in Sacra-mento. He also began the task of restructuring the bar to "deliver
our product better, more efficiently and to reflect a changed way of doing business."
"I like to think I helped lay the foundation that preserved the organization
through the most tumultuous time in its history," Nissen said.
"I hope the reorganization will fill in some more building blocks for a better and
less expensive organization."
Two months after joining the bar, Nissen ordered 45 layoffs, designed, he said,
"to get our house in order." When no accord was reached on the fee bill, the bar
was forced to lay off almost 500 more employees, an action Nissen described as
At the same time, he was moving to simplify the bar's budget, long a target of critics
who charged there was little accountability for how funds were spent.
As part of that effort, he began to reorganize the staff from the standpoint of
enhancing bar services and accomplishing its work.
Helen Zukin, a Los Angeles attorney who chairs the Commission on Judicial Nominees
Evaluation, said she thinks Nissen's move to the Capitol will help the bar's political
"He's made every effort to restore the trust and communication necessary between
the bar and Sacramento," she said. "He continues to move to positions where his
intellect and experience can only help the lawyers of this state."
Nissen will earn $92,150 in his new job, compared to his $197,500 annual salary at the
Another longtime bar employee, Clothilde V. Hewlett, 45, was named undersecretary of
the State and Consumer Services Agency by Davis last month.
Hewlett has worked in the bar's admissions office since 1991. She was an assistant
district attorney in San Francisco prior to joining the bar. She will earn $101,211 in her