How much should an urban prosecutor earn? In New Orleans, the average salary is $38,500. Eight months after taking office, Orleans Parish District Attorney Eddie Jordan delivered small but symbolic pay raises to more than half of his staff, the mostly twenty-something greenhorn lawyers who handle staggering caseloads and work long hours for salaries that start at $30,000, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports.
The raises went to 43 of the 80 assistant district attorneys, and ranged from $1,500 to $5,000. The average pay raise was $3,000.
“I am committed to bringing the salaries of our attorneys up to a reasonable standard,” Jordan said. The raises were given out under a state law that allows Jordan to use funds for vacant positions as he sees fit.
Low pay at the office has been a sticking point for years, contributing to high turnover, with a succession of lawyers leaving after two or three years of work. The last time prosecutors got a raise was July 1992. The prosecutors usually are fresh from the bar exam with little courtroom experience.
Jordan, who took office Jan. 13, promised higher pay for employees during his 2002 campaign. The former U.S. attorney in New Orleans, Jordan cited the vast difference in pay between federal and state-level prosecutors. His goal is to pay every prosecutor in Orleans at least $50,000 a year.