Tuesday, March 8, 2005
State Bar Court Administrator Tapped For Top Discipline Enforcement Job
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Scott Drexel, who for 16 years has been a top State Bar Court executive, has been selected to replace Michael Nisperos Jr. as the State Bar’s chief trial counsel, bar officials said yesterday.
Drexel, 56, said he will leave the court next month to oversee prosecution of attorneys charged with disciplinary violations. Nisperos departed in January, electing not to seek a second four-year term.
The chief trial counsel’s office has 220 employees and investigates about 4,000 cases a year.
Drexel said he sought the job partly because of the larger size of the Office of Trial Counsel compared with the court operation, which has a staff of only about a quarter to a third the size. While he found his 16 years with the court “enjoyable,” he said he explained:
“I think I was ready for a new challenge.”
He added that his familiarity with the State Bar Court system would allow him to “have an immediate impact on the office,” though he denied that he has plans for “major structural changes or anything like that.”
“You can always improve and be more efficient, effective and the like.”
Drexel noted that he has also served as a pro tem judge of the State Bar Court for the past two years, and is familiar with many of the lawyers who prosecute discipline cases. He was introduced in his new role to the Office of Trial Counsel staff yesterday by State Bar Executive Director Judy Johnson at a videoconference, he said, adding that he thought he was “received…very positively.”
One immediate priority, he said, will be to learn why there has been a “significant drop” in the number of discipline cases being brought.
“I do think we have to look at the matters coming into the system,” Drexel said. “I would like to think it is because there isn’t as much misconduct occurring, but I’m not sure that’s the case.”
At least “some outreach to the public” will be required to be sure that clients who have been victimized by their lawyers are aware of how to make complaints, he said.
Drexel noted that the position is subject to confirmation by the state Senate, but said that, if confirmed, he expects to devote at least the next eight years to the job.
“I’m going into it expecting to serve two terms,” he declared.
In a statement, State Bar President John Van de Kamp, a former state attorney general, described Drexel as “an outstanding appointment—a view confirmed by the board of governors after lengthy interviews with the top candidates.”
Van de Kamp added:
“He brings to the job a strong background in the State Bar disciplinary system and has strong support from members of the court as well as within the disciplinary staff.”
The Board of Governors completed interviews for the position while meeting in Los Angeles Friday and Saturday. There were 38 applicants for the job, of whom six were selected as finalists.
Drexel was admitted to the bar in 1975 after earning his law degree from Hastings College of the Law. Even before graduating from law school he served in the State Bar’s Office of General Counsel as a law clerk.
“The bar’s offices were just three blocks from the law school, and I was just looking for some part-time work,” he recalled.
After his admission to practice he served in the Office of General Counsel for a decade before spending three years with Cassel & Abraham, a management-side labor and employment firm in San Francisco.
He joined the State Bar Court as chief counsel in 1989 when the court changed from a system of part-time volunteers to full-time judges, and became the court’s administrative officer in 1995.
Copyright 2005, Metropolitan News Company