The Allegany County Attorney office has a vital role to play our local government operation. As the former 1st Attorney in the office, current county administrator Carissa Knapp understands the office like few others and has been leading a restructuring effort. On Monday, during various legislative sessions, the future of the County Attorney Office started taking shape.
After those meetings we asked Knapp to provide some insight into the plans now afoot:
“We are making some internal restructuring moves to help with the recruitment process. Most of the workload in the County Attorney’s Office has previously centered on the Department of Social Services. This past Monday, the Board of Legislators created three Attorney positions in the Department of Social Services. This will accomplish two things. First, it will immediately allow the Commissioner of Social Services to hire Attorneys solely dedicated to her Department to deal with its vital and timely matters such as child neglect and abuse, child support, and adult protective matters. Second, it will narrow the scope of work in the County Attorney’s Office which should help in the recruitment and hiring process for that position. Creating dedicated DSS attorney positions is a common practice in many other counties and a structure we used here in Allegany County up until the mid-1980s.”
On June 11th, the county attorney Jeff Donigan resigned leaving an empty office. That human resource crisis within Allegany County government is a direct reflection of how difficult it is to attract quality legal talent in small rural counties. When asked about that bigger issue and the county plan to address the recruitment effort, Knapp had this to say:
“I definitely think there is a larger trend. It’s becoming more and more difficult to recruit and retain talent, not just attorneys and not just in our County. We’re discussing the issue and looking at things we can do to adapt to meet those challenges, but as of today we do not have a specific plan or formal recruitment effort that’s much different than what we have been doing in the past few years.
Don’t expect this recent change in our county legal team to be the last. Knapp hinted more changes are to come:
“The County will likely make some other organizational moves in the next few meetings to fill some other temporary legal needs.”