Exhausting all options on hiring
District Attorney Patrick Swanson recently appeared before the Public Safety committee, and requested support for a resolution which would allow him to hire up to four assistant district attorneys from outside Chautauqua County.
The reasons cited for the request were a lack of qualified attorneys in Chautauqua County to fill the positions, and a small pool of attorney’s from which to choose.
Questions from the committee, focused mainly on recruitment. What specifically was being done to get people to apply for positions in the District Attorney’s office?
According to Mr. Swanson, he would check with the Northern Chautauqua County and Jamestown Bar Associations and the Erie County Bar Association. Regarding contact with Law Schools, he said that he had checked with the University of Buffalo Law School in the past, although he hadn’t checked with them since 2016. Lastly, it was mentioned the District Attorney’s office relies on “word of mouth” to fill vacancies in the office.
Centering on the recruitment aspect of the issue, he was asked if he made use of the County Human Resources Department. He replied that he had not. While it is true assistant district attorneys fall into the “exempt” Civil Service category, Department Heads with exempt employees can voluntarily make use of the services provided by Human Resources. Were Mr. Swanson to do so, Human Resources would post the position; listing the salary, qualifications, and duties and responsibilities associated with the assistant district attorney position. These postings would be in every County Office Building, and many municipal and public buildings throughout the county. Human Resources would also make use of the “intranet” (the county’s network of computers) and the internet, specifically using Monster.com, Indeed, and other job search sites. Finally, Human Resources would advertise for the positions in The Post-Journal and OBSERVER newspapers.
In regard to Law Schools, only the University of Buffalo Law School is being contacted, and that only on an intermittent basis. At this time there is no dialogue between Mr. Swanson and other New York Law Schools such as Albany, Connell, or Syracuse.
Finally, there was an observation that on the District Attorney’s website there is information about the District Attorney and the office, but nowhere does it tell how to apply for a job as an assistant district attorney.
Former District Attorneys: David Foley, James Subjack and John Ward, all hired attorneys from Chautauqua County.
This is just my opinion, but before we change a long established policy of hiring local attorneys, the District Attorney’s office should expand and strengthen its recruitment efforts.
Terry Niebel is a Chautauqua County legislator from Sheridan.