May-June 2015

Leadership and management kick off a new era of training

Rob Kepple

TDCAA Executive Director in Austin

Say you are a newly elected district attorney, county attorney, or criminal district attorney. Perhaps before you were elected, you had a reputation as an excellent trial attorney, defense counsel, wise and fair judge, or a hard-working assistant prosecutor.
    Or maybe you are pretty new to a prosecutor’s office, but you have done well in your first court assignments, and after a year you are promoted. You are rewarded with the responsibility of supervising some even newer lawyers.
    Whatever the situation, what prepared the attorney to lead an office or a community or to manage a staff? The answer is short: nothing. A lot of attorneys make excellent leaders and managers, but just because you can win a case in court doesn’t mean leading or managing comes naturally.
    The Texas District and County Attorneys Association has existed to serve the prosecutors of Texas for 110 years. In the modern era of grant-funded training that began in the early 1970s, TDCAA has grown into the fifth largest MCLE trainer out of over 1,500 legal training entities in Texas. It has done a great job of training prosecutors and staff in many areas, but to date the training on leadership and management has been hit or miss.
    With the help of the Foundation, that will change. It is time for a sustained program of leadership and management training for prosecutors. Whether you are the elected in a large jurisdiction or a single-person shop, you lead your office and your community in matters of criminal justice. It is our obligation to give you the tools for that job. And if you are an assistant who has been thrust into a management role because you happen to be good in trial, we owe it to you to help you gain a core competency in management skills.
    This is the kind of sustained training program for which the Foundation was built. The Foundation is working today to identify and partner with significant supporters who recognize that the quality of justice in our communities hinges on prosecutor offices that, from top to bottom, work as a cohesive unit.
    Stay tuned. We are confident that the Foundation will help us find the resources we need for a whole new level of training and support for our profession!