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Scott Drexel, the leading executive for the State Bar Court for 16 years, was named chief trial counsel on Monday, giving him top prosecutorial power over the organization’s discipline system. Drexel, 56, replaces Mike Nisperos Jr., who resigned in December soon after the State Bar Board of Governors opened his job up to new applicants. State Bar President John Van de Kamp called Drexel’s appointment outstanding. “He brings to the job a strong background in the State Bar disciplinary system,” he said in a prepared statement, “and has strong support from members of the court as well as within the disciplinary staff.” State Bar Executive Director Judy Johnson chimed in by saying Drexel “clearly emerged as the best qualified” of 38 applicants and six finalists. “He has an encyclopedic knowledge of the discipline system and is an exemplary manager and motivator of people,” she said. Drexel will take over an office that has 220 employees and investigates about 4,000 cases a year. The veteran Bar attorney, who oversees a staff of 60 as the chief counsel and administrative officer for the State Bar Court, is expected to assume his new position next month. Drexel said Monday that he was “looking for a new challenge” and felt he was “in the best position in terms of knowledge and experience” to handle the job. “I won’t have a learning curve,” he said. “Our rules, our case law, the way things work in the State Bar, are very specialized.” Nisperos, who held the office for four years, resigned on Dec. 21, saying he wanted to devote more time to his family. But attorneys familiar with the State Bar claimed that Nisperos was shoved out after a failed power struggle with Johnson over budgetary control. Drexel intends to keep his home in Northern California, but will spend most of his time in Los Angeles, where the office of chief trial counsel is located. He said Monday that it’s not clear who will replace him even on an interim basis, but that he, Johnson and State Bar Court Presiding Judge Ronald Stovitz will try to set up a transition process.

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