La Follette School Professor Emeritus Dennis Dresang and Peter Tempelis (MPA, JD ’06) will discuss their study about the high rate of turnover among assistant district attorneys (ADAs) during a La Follette School Policy After Work gathering on Tuesday, October 17. The networking opportunity for La Follette students, alumni, and friends begins at 5 p.m. at Brocach, 7 W. Main Street.
Dresang, an expert in public management, was Tempelis’ mentor during graduate and law school, and Tempelis received a Forward under 40 award from the Wisconsin Alumni Association earlier this year. Tempelis and Dresang will discuss their study about the high turnover among assistant district attorneys, and Dresang will highlight the 50th anniversary of the Center for Public Policy and Administration -- the La Follette School's predecessor.
The study, “Public Safety and Assistant District Attorney Staffing in Wisconsin,” provided evidence for the Association of State Prosecutors and Wisconsin District Attorneys Association to advocate successfully in 2011 for legislation providing merit-based pay progression for ADAs. Findings included a 75 percent ADA turnover rate between 2001 and 2007.
As part of their study, Dresang and several La Follette School students conducted a survey of current and former ADAs, which found that the major reason for lawyers becoming county prosecutors was the opportunity to serve the public. They also learned that the state's compensation system prompts them to leave their jobs, usually within the first five years of service.
“A 75 percent turnover rate presents challenges for any organization,” Dresang said when announcing the study’s results in October 2011. “The implications are especially alarming for public safety when the employees are the prosecutors, the attorneys whose work in county court make up a critical component of the state’s overall criminal justice system.”