Biglaw, Email Scandals, Layoffs, Partner Issues, Staff Layoffs, Technology

Summer Drama At Cleary Gottlieb


From: [Angry IT Guy]
To: [Everyone at Cleary Gottlieb]
Sent: Tuesday, August 06, 2013 09:01 AM
Subject: Goodbye CGSH from [HR aka Angry IT Guy]

Hello CGSH;

Many of you are probably wondering why you are receiving this e-mail. Well, after great thought and determination, I felt that it was time to explain why I am no longer employed by CGSH.

For those of you who know me, you know that I am not afraid to tell it like it is no matter what the consequences may be. I give praise where praise is due, and when I see an area that I think needs improvement, I do not hesitate to let it be known as long as the criticism is productive and not impeaching. It is for these reasons that I find it necessary to speak on behalf of myself and those who are afraid to speak up.

On May 16th 2013, I was brought into [Chief Information Officer] ML’s office, as they secretly assembled my co-workers in the conference room, and was told that my position was outsourced effective immediately. I was not shocked, as ML and KB (Pseudo Manager) has been trying to get rid of me since ML arrived at Cleary, but they had no grounds in which to terminate me. They attempted to make me quit by stripping me of my responsibilities and isolating me from my tasks in hoping that I would become bored and quit. Unfortunately for them, none of these tactics worked. As to my understanding of the Cleary policies, this should have been deemed a form of harassment. I complained and was told that it was not. Don’t even want to say which partner that was. I was yelled at by ML on two separate occasions (one conversation was recorded). I was harassed by KB via e-mails (those were retained). I was forced by KB to work outrageously long hours and when I complained to Human Resources, I was told by KB and DH that because I was an exempt employee, I was to work until the job was finished and I was at the firm’s disposal at ANY given time and there was nothing I could do about it. In addition, I reached out to Human Resources on three different occasions to discuss the unfair treatment by KB and ML. I was told during one HR encounter that there would be no repercussion for me bringing these complaints to their attention. Little did I know how wrong that would be (All of these conversations were recorded as well).

Here is a synopsis of the events which occurred between Cleary IT and me.

1. I was hired in 5/2010 as the Sr. Engineer/Architect to address many of the issues which existed in the network and to design the new data center infrastructures moving forward. I was able to fine tune many of the data and voice (IP based) network issues in the Americas environment.

2. Built multiple vendor networks inside of the Cleary network to support the on-site vendors including, but not limited to, Travel and Flik.

3. Re-designed and implemented the Cleary Telepresence and video subnets.

4. Designed and implemented the conference room infrastructure network.

5. Designed and proposed the new data center Infrastructure.

6. Reluctantly led the connectivity design of the under developed WAN site connectivity for the new world data center.

7. Supported the Cleary network infrastructure globally.

Background experience:

More than 30 years of experience in network communications design and support.
BS CSEE in Network Design

Multiple Cisco, Nortel and Enterasys network Certifications

Design and implementation of multi-tiered, higly redundant data centers for government, financial, pharmaceutical, power and industry and cellular service providers.

Now let’s get down to the grit of my situation at Cleary Gottlieb.

During the reign of JW, KB (current manager), was a consultant under SS. KB’s position, off and on for nine years, was to hand out PCs and Blackberry devices during the rollouts. For all of this time, KB had no network or technical experience. Upon the completion of the rollouts, KB was without a job. He reached out to JW (his personal friend) who offered him a position in the network group handling administrative tasks and paperwork. This occurred in the 1st quarter of 2011.

During the month of November 2011, the former network manager, JW announced that he was leaving the firm. At this time, the network group was left without any manager. This was the case for more than six months.

On January 5th, 2012, a new CIO was hired, ML. ML immediately established a relationship with the Security Engineer and KB. He spent much of his time with them both in and out of the office and they became drinking buddies going out every Thursday after work. During this time, without any reason or notification to me, my previously assigned project of developing the data centers were stripped from me and handed to KB, someone with NO data center experience.

When I reached out to Human Resources to question this, and I was given the excuse that as per ML, they needed to stretch the workload. That was non-sense and a lie. The firm would soon come to realize how bad an idea that decision was.

During the month of May 2012, there were several layoffs in the IT department. ML announced that there would be no additional layoffs and he also announced that the network manager’s position was open for application. He urged internal people to apply. This was seen as the beginning of a ploy to cover an already hidden decision to hire KB into this role. Everyone somehow felt that I would have received this position based on my knowledge and many years of experience. I responded with doubt to them. The writing was already on the wall. Not long after the application process was begun, I was made aware by others that the position had been filled and this was prior to any notification from ML After confirmation of this information, I cleaned out my desk in preparation to quit. For a timeline reference, this occurred more than a full week prior to ML informing me that I had not received the position. I asked ML that afternoon if there was a decision made for the management position. He looked me in the eye and said “No, this is a long process and they are still reviewing other candidates.” Little did he realize that I already knew that KB was offered the job. That’s why I cleaned out my desk .The stage is now set for the spiraling downfall of the CGSH corporate network environment.

As the Sr. Network Engineer and Architect for the firm, I or someone else with the proper experience, should have been involved in the data center builds. I was the only one in the firm that had the experience and technology needed to perform e required tasks. No one else at Cleary had ever done this before. However, I was not allowed to be involved until the shit hit the fan. Even then, I was limited to support access.

On September 10th, ML and KB hired AH, another engineer. The story was that he was being hired as my backup. AH was a good engineer but there were Cleary institutional barriers which interfered with him making the best decisions for the firm’s network. AH worked at Cleary for six months and then quit. He made it clear that he could not deal with the poor management and lack of technical ability and experience in KB. So he put in his two weeks’ notice and quit. In his exit, KB even tried to get him to say that I was part of the reason that he was leaving.

Through KB’s leadership, there have been several outages caused by his poor decision making and leadership. Much of which I am positive was at the direction of ML. Here are a few examples:

In June/July 2012, there was one active circuit between Sao Paulo and the WAN. There was a second circuit between Sao Paulo and Buenos Aires which was setup as a backup but was not carrying traffic. During a conference call with the project manager, ML, KB and PZ, we discussed the additional circuit in Sao Paulo. I suggested that we enable the second circuit as a backup. We are already paying for it. ML screamed at me on the call (witnessed by everyone) not to touch that circuit. This was totally uncalled for. This incident occurred on a Monday. On Tuesday, I was in his office to discuss the circuit with PZ on the phone. Once again, I asked ML to implement the circuit and he said no. Well, the next day I was on the bus on my way to work. The primary circuit in Sao Paulo failed and there was no secondary circuit so the Sao Paulo office had no connectivity to any other office. I was not able to do anything but coordinate with PZ to contact the carrier. The Sao Paulo network was down for hours. I was basking in this situation for days. At this point, probably under the direction of Kelly Stevens, ML decided that I should activate the second circuit in Sao Paulo.

KB and PZ were responsible for the development of the WAN links to each site for the new data connectivity. Once again, I was kept out of the design decisions. The Buenos Aires office has two physical locations. Based on the WAN design, each site (location) was to have two circuits for redundancy. As we were preparing the BA site for circuit install, I discovered that KB/PZ did not allocate dual circuits for the two locations in BA. In addition, I recommended a routing solution between the two sites as long as the prerequisites existed. The first was that there needed to be a routing protocol running on the BA office switch. There was none. The second was that the switch be able to support the routing protocol. It couldn’t. And the third was that nothing in the site would break because of this oversight by KB. It did. I instructed KB to purchase a new switch for Buenos Aires because the current switch would not support their needs for this WAN upgrade. KB decided against my technical direction, to attempt to upgrade the switch and it broke the routing and voice in Buenos Aires. More so, Cisco also advised against the upgrade.

I informed KB and PZ (Manager of Europe Technical Services) that there needed to be a design discussion around the site equipment in preparation for building the new data center connections to each office. The response I received was that this was not needed and there was no time for it. That said, in February 2013, the core switch in DC failed. Not once or even twice, but three times. This failure was due to the inability of the switch to handle all of the additional routes which were being sent to it. I warned the management that this would happen but was told that we would move on. This outage cost the firm several hours in down time and money. There were excuses given by KB and ML but the excuses were lies. They blamed it on the equipment but the equipment had been up and functioned more than 12 years without incident. The switch only failed when KB and ML refused to accept my advice in the development of these sites.

During my last week at Cleary, there were several outages in the network because KB and ML continued to delegate my roles and responsibilities to others. Not sure of the reason, on May 16th, I sent a meeting request to KB and ML questioning these changes. ML stated that he was busy but may be available later and wanted to know the details of the request. I explained to him my concern about my responsibilities. That afternoon between 2 and 2:30, he sent an email asking if I was available at 4:00 PM. I responded “yes”. He came to my desk and got me and walked me to his office where HR was waiting in informed me of my immediate termination.

Giving everyone involved the benefit of the doubt; I still cannot understand the reason for my termination. When did they decide to outsource me? Was it before I challenged KB’s lack of technical ability? Was it before I challenged the poor design decisions that were costing the firm lots of money because of downtime? Or was it because I was more qualified than KB or ML but I was black and over 40? Yes. I said it. In a real world, I would not have been treated the way that I was if I was young and not African American.

I exceeded all employee and technical expectations that my position would have required. I had an excellent attendance record and was always the one who was available to work long hours, weekends, holidays, vacation days and sick days. I would sacrifice life, family and safety to make sure that the Cleary network remained up and running. I have also never been written up for performance or job related incidents. There are additional mass failures and outages which still continue to this day. So I am not sure of how my being outsourced benefitted anything other than Cleary having an excuse to get rid of me.

Within the past year and a half, Cleary has eliminated staff over 40 without cause. They have used the excuse of retirement, reduction in staff or any other potentially acceptable reason. The truth is, that the largest percentage of these people were over 40 and 50 years of age, were people of color and supposedly did not fit the new Cleary image. Simply ask around and look at the person that you are aware of that has been released from their role at Cleary. The sorry fact is that the process is not over.

As for technical abilities, KB has none. The data center installations are a failure although ML is doing his best to cover that. The core switch replacements in NY and DC are not going well at all and all of these outages are costing the firm severely. The South American sites are still in limbo as their network issues although defined, are not being addressed and everyone in IT is being told not to question these issues just deal with them. It would be in the firms best interest to investigate these statements and make determinations to protect its interests and clients.

On a closing note, I would also add that I refused the Cleary separation package so that I could not be kept quiet about my experiences and other concerns at Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen and Hamilton. Someone had to be a voice to let the unknowing know what is happening in the company that they dedicate so much of themselves to everyday. I assure you, there is a hidden list of those that are accepted because they are on board with this and those who will be shunned because they refuse to be part of the process.

It is my intention to also meet with many of the Cleary clients, which were also my business clients, and discuss the lack of human rights fundamental as well as technical fundamentals which Cleary is lacking. I have recorded all of the conversations with ML, KB, and Human Resources depicting the abuse of power and decision and supporting the fact that I properly reached out to them when there was a concern and there was no apparent action taken other than to relieve me of my position.

I feel that I was unjustly persecuted for my determination not to follow the two idiots that are running the Americas IT department. That quickly placed me into the pool of people that the firm need to get rid of. To add to this list was MW, CB, J from Desktop Support, and several other IT staff members globally. I was not even given an exit interview upon my dismissal. I am sure that this is not firm policy as I know it. If I was terminated without malice, why was I not afforded the same luxuries as those who resign. Hmmmm!?!

And in closing, do not let these people bully you. They will only get away with it if you let them. I do not intend to let that happen. I’d also like to add that I am not disgruntled nor am I trying to get back at Cleary or any of its staff because I know longer work there. I just need for everyone to know what has happened and what will continue to happen if no one says or does anything about it.

For all others, I wish you the best. It was a pleasure working with and supporting you for the three years that I work at Cleary and you were the only reason that leaving the firm was hard. You made my 2.5 hour commute (each way) worth every bit of it. Feel free to email me or contact me if you please.

Best regards,
[HR aka Angry IT Guy]

Earlier: A Mysterious Partner Departure — Plus Stealth Layoffs? — at Cleary Gottlieb
Top Law Firm Fires Summer Associate After Learning Of His Criminal Past
Breaking: A Dramatic Farewell Email (And proof of Paul Hastings layoffs.)

(hidden for your protection)

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