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Bar’s chief trial counsel resigns; search under way to fill prosecutor’s post

Mike Nisperos Jr., chief trial counsel for the State Bar of California, announced last month he will not seek another four-year term as head of the bar’s attorney discipline enforcement unit and planned to leave the Los Angeles-based post on Jan. 1.

Mike Nisperos Jr.

“This has been a dream job for me,” said Nisperos, whose term as the State Bar’s chief prosecutor began in March 2001. “It has been rewarding, personally and professionally.

“Although it is tempting to seek another four-year term,” added Nisperos, who previously served as manager of the Citizen’s Police Review Board in Oakland, “I feel the Bay Area calling me back to my roots. I regret leaving behind the wonderful colleagues and staff I have worked with here at the State Bar, but I look forward to many new challenges and endeavors.”

Deputy Executive Director Robert Hawley called Nisperos a “real contributor to the State Bar and its disciplinary enforcement efforts” and said the chief trial counsel “brought new perspectives and a keen enthusiasm for the work of the office.”

Several of Nisperos’ key accomplishments, said Hawley, include the development of the State Bar Drug Court, the first application of the principles of therapeutic techniques to an administrative discipline process, and the successful prosecution of the Trevor Law Group, culminating in one of the largest and most widely covered investigations in the history of the bar.

The chief trial counsel heads the State Bar’s attorney disciplinary enforcement office, including the investigation and prosecution of attorneys for professional misconduct before the State Bar Court. The chief is appointed by the board of governors to a four-year term but must be confirmed by the State Senate Rules Committee.

Nisperos, whose term would expire in the spring, is the fourth chief trial counsel to serve the bar under the statutes that restructured the system in 1986. He succeeded James Bascue, Robert Heflin and Judy Johnson, who left the post in 2000 when she was appointed by the board as the State Bar’s executive director.

Recruitment for a new chief trial counsel is under way.  In light of Nisperos’ announcement, the deadline for those interested applicants to file applications has been extended to Jan. 19.  The selection process will likely continue through the first quarter of 2005. For information, see the posting at

In the interim, Deputy Chief Trial Counsel Russell Weiner will serve in the absence of the chief.

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