Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Help Wanted: Heavy Labor, Light Pay

Last week, I posted two seemingly unrelated pieces dealing with "the North Country" of upstate NY. First, I was probably a bit subjective in my view of local government, and second, I questioned why local municipalities and related groups were hiring out-of-town lawyers. Here's part of the answer, from Tuesday's Watertown Daily Times: the inability to make a competitive wage in the public sector because of local government's lack of knowledge about the job market.

Not that $59,000 is anything to sneeze at-in fact, it's a pretty comfortable income in most of rural upstate. The problem is that, when not compared to the upstate median income, but to lawyer median income, it exascerbates the "youth flight" (I despise the term "brain drain", as many capable people do choose to remain upstate) because there are fewer opportunities for professional advancement. There will always be demand among lawyers, especially the newly admitted, for the ADA positions. The difficulty comes when the attorney reaches that point where they are experienced enough advocates to make the transition to a more lucrative position, which is by definition outside of St. Lawrence County.

Second, the author apparently doesn't understand "admitted to the bar" as different from "joining the bar association." Another piece for an educational campaign about the practice I law, I guess.

Lawmakers cool to Duvé pay-hike proposal for assistants
By Corey Fram
Times Staff Writer
Tuesday, December 20, 2005

CANTON -- Nicole M. Duvé created her own first hurdle as St. Lawrence County district attorney.
The Potsdam Democrat who last week said she wants to hit the ground running in January when she's sworn into office got a lukewarm response from county lawmakers at Monday's Finance Committee meeting when she asked them to increase assistant district attorneys' salaries so she could lure an experienced lawyer into the department. Lawmakers for an hour debated the move, its costs and the consequences of upsetting other employees before deciding to spend a month mulling ways to get Ms. Duvé's choice [for top deputy to the DA] on board...Her choice, a man whom she wouldn't name, has been an attorney for 20 years and has much criminal court experience.

The lawyer would share the burden of caseloads and teaching the young, less-experienced attorneys that make up the staff. Ms. Duvé, who during the campaign was criticized for not trying a case in eight years, cited the three open murder indictments in the county to convince legislators that an experienced attorney is needed.

The county pays assistant district attorneys up to $59,957 on a scale that covers 10 years of membership in the bar association. Ms. Duvé asked lawmakers to extend the scale to $65,000 for 15 or 20 years of bar membership.


Post a Comment

<< Home