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Starting Salaries for District Attorneys

— November 18, 2021

Whatever you choose to do, make the decision that supports your dreams and, of course, your financial goals.

It isn’t easy to figure out starting salaries for assistant district attorneys because (until now), nobody had taken the time to contact offices across the country to compile the data. 

We spent months calling, emailing and sending FOIA requests to district attorney offices to gather starting salary information for prosecutors.

Here’s some of the high-level details we discovered conducting our survey:

  • The average assistant district attorney salary is $66,802
  • Highest starting salary: $127,518 (San Jose, California)
  • Lowest starting salary: $40,604 (Manchester, New Hampshire)

As you can see from the above, prosecutor salaries vary widely and don’t seem to be subject to the same market forces that apply to commercial enterprises. The differences between California salaries ($100K+) and New York salaries (~$70K) particularly surprised us.

If you’ve ever considered becoming an assistant district attorney, we’ll cover who they are, how you become one and your exit opportunities.

Assistant District Attorneys – Who Are They?

A district attorney is the leading criminal prosecutor lawyer of a city or a state. Meanwhile, every lawyer who works in the district attorney department is called an assistant district attorney. Their job is to prosecute the crimes alleged by the state that presses charges against felons based on incriminating evidence.

The assistant district attorney has multiple responsibilities. Such as assisting the district attorney in presenting their cases in criminal court.

In addition, assistant district attorneys can also prosecute a case if given to them by the district attorney. New hires get to start with more minor cases such as misdemeanor crimes. However, experienced assistant district attorneys often get to prosecute complex criminal cases as well.

They can also interview witnesses and gather evidence for district attorneys.

How to Become an Assistant District Attorney?

For starters, you’ll need a clean and crime-free record. Even a small misdemeanor charge can disqualify you from becoming a successful assistant district attorney.

The next thing is to graduate from a law school with good grades. After that, pass the bar exam in the state you want to practice law. Try to get a high score on the bar exam to get hired by a reputable law firm.

The Authority Vested in an Assistant District Attorney

Assistant district attorneys have a lot of power granted by the state law. They are allowed to investigate the accused and gather evidence against them. Additionally, they can issue subpoenas, make plea bargains, and grant immunity to white-collar criminals. In fact, they even have the authority to file a criminal charge against anyone based on enough evidence.

The Related Law Fields

Walmart Crimes Continue to Be an Issue Nationwide
Photo by Max Kleinen on Unsplash

As an assistant district attorney, you can work in different law domains. The choice you make solely depends on your interest, but here are some ways you can practice:

  • Felony criminal prosecutor
  • Misdemeanor crime prosecutor
  • Border prosecutor
  • Child and elderly rights protection lawyer

Is Becoming an Assistant District Attorney a Good Decision?

It’s perfectly alright to have doubts about your career choices, especially at the very start. 

But this attractive salary package usually rivals the stress of this demanding job. Interviewing criminals and victims, working long hours to build a case, and assessing all the evidence – it all eventually takes its toll.

So, only think of becoming an assistant DA if you’ve got nerves of steel.

Other Job Opportunities

Assistant district attorneys can always choose to upgrade their careers as they have multiple job opportunities available.

You can get a promotion (and hopefully a raise) when you become a district attorney. Of course, your responsibilities will increase when you end up running a division in the district attorney’s office. 

You also have the chance of becoming a judge in the future, so rest assured there’s plenty of growth to be experienced in this career. However, know that there’s plenty of competition for the top spots, so you’ll likely have to work very hard and study harder to get to the other side of the bench.

As a district attorney, you can ditch firm practice and open your own private practice as well. Whatever you choose to do, make the decision that supports your dreams and, of course, your financial goals.

Join the conversation!