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ND State's Attorney Association: Prosecutors are at a premium

Across North Dakota, county states’ attorneys are reporting they’re having trouble finding prosecutors.

"It's something that we've struggled with," said North Dakota State's Attorneys Association Executive Director Ashly Lies of New Rockford. "We're actively working as an association to find ways to remedy that."

Lies said says it is part of a larger issue – that is, keeping University of North Dakota law school graduates in North Dakota.

"Only 40 percent of UND law school graduates are staying and practicing in North Dakota," Lies said. "If there are 60 graduates, that's between 20 and 24."

Lies said of those, only six percent are locating outside of the state's four biggest cities. She said her organization is working with the law school to have a bigger presence there – to show that being a prosecutor is true public service. And she said there are incentives available, such as student loan forgiveness. But she admits pay is an issue.

"Typically, our salaries as prosecutors are significantly lower than for those attorneys going into private practice," Lies said.

To help attract more law students into being prosecutors, Lies said her organization is looking at holding its winter meeting in Grand Forks in 2025.

"So then we can connect with the law school, and hopefully get law students to come, and see what cases we're dealing with, and the different aspects of the job," Lies said. "Being a prosecutor ranges from working on advising your county commission on legal issues, and preparing contracts, to felony prosecutions of the most serious offenses in North Dakota."

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