Pittsburgh Legal Back Talk

Legal topics of interest to lawyers and consumers with a Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania focus.

1410 Posts and Counting

Getting Paid With Opportunity.

Posted By Cliff Tuttle | April 1, 2018

No. 1,458

Image: trentalange.com

The Post Gazette ran a story today about trial attorney turnover in the Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office.  Don’t bother reading it.  I’ll give you the gist in about 30 seconds.

The DA has about 27% annual turnover.  Their junior trial attorneys get paid in the 40’s.  They work for a few years and then leave for more money. This has been going on since the beginning of time.  However, Judges say this phenomenon hasn’t hurt the quality of  the trial work.

The author of this piece was a newspaper reporter, not a lawyer.  She put it together in a workmanlike manner. (This term cannot be feminized) While she reported that young DA’s come away with a lot of experience, she didn’t appear to get what that means.

Many of the best trial lawyers in this town worked for the District Attorney’s office. This is no coincidence.  They spent the whole day in a courtroom.  Files are thrown at them.  Everything is on a deadline. They often talked to the police officers, usually their primary witnesses, minutes before the trial. And often, they must stand up and start talking with hardly any preparation. But this is more than a debating contest.  The prosecution has the burden of proof and everything is on the record. Decisions are made in seconds.  Meanwhile, there is a judge and one or more defense counsel carping at your heels.

Trial lawyer’s are the legal equivalent of surgeons.  The DA’s Office is the equivalent of a teaching hospital like UPMC, with intensive programs to train each new generation of practitioners. Who lets a brand new doctor perform surgery?  UPMC does. Who lets a brand new lawyer try cases?  The DA does.

So tell me again how these kids are not being paid well?  They are paid with the currency of opportunity.  Its a great deal.



CLIFF TUTTLE has been a Pennsylvania lawyer for over 45 years and (inter alia) is a real estate litigator and legal writer. The posts in this blog are intended to provide general information about legal topics of interest to lawyers and consumers with a Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania focus. However, this information does not constitute legal advice and there is no lawyer-client relationship created when you read this blog. You are encouraged to leave comments but be aware that posted comments can be read by others. If you wish to contact me in privacy, please use the Contact Form located immediately below this message. I will reply promptly and in strict confidence.

  • Recent Posts

  • Posts You Might Like

  • Subscribe to our feed