Vault has an article about the hard life that awaits for those who want to become prosecutors. Here's a sobering statistic:
For many lawyers one of the largest obstacles to becoming an Assistant District Attorney (ADA) is the low pay compared to big law firms. "It's a great profession but you're never going to get rich." says Michael Conroy, an ADA at the Staten Island District Attorney's office. Beginning Assistant District Attorneys in smaller offices start off with salaries in the low 30s, according to Jim Polley, the Director of Government Affairs at the National District Attorney Association. Of course ADAs make more in larger cities. For example, a lawyer starting in the LA District Attorney's Office will pull in around $49,000 and then get bumped up to $57,000 for their second year. In contrast, some firms in LA are paying first year associates $125,000.
The information is slightly outdated. The current position description for an entry level Deputy District Attorney in Los Angeles County comes to about $60,000 a year, which is still not that high for Southern California, but almost enough to live modestly on and pay back some student loans. The prize, however, goes to Santa Clara County, where rumor has it an entry level Deputy District Attorney could stand to earn about 50% more, or close to $90,000. Naturally, competition was intense, and Santa Clara County has already filled their two open requisitions.
But don't worry. DDAs don't have billable hours. And, if the gmail/gchat status of one of my friends is any indication, Big Law life sucks anyway. In any case, it's not for everyone, and similar, the life of a DDA isn't going to be for everybody, either.