I don’t know how I missed it, but last week, Jones Day laid off 65 IT workers.  Most of them were from my home town of Columbus, Ohio. [UPDATE: It appears the bulk of cuts were in Cleveland, not C-bus. Still Buckeyes though. 🙁 ]  As I began reading the article, my first thought was, “I told you.” But as I continued and I read the quotes from Jones Partner, Joe Sims, I started to regret the things I had written.  Had he or anyone at Jones read any of my posts?  Was I in any way influential in this decision?

Of course, that’s completely irrational and extremely arrogant. But still, the thought briefly crossed my mind. The quotes from Sims and Jones Day sound very much like things I have said and written.

“…we concluded we could do it better, faster and more effectively with a reorganized approach, and that reorganization didn’t require so many people.”  

“It’s basically a change from a local, personal touch to a remote-access basis for fixing little problems, and instead of having people literally on the ground…”  

“We have determined that a reorganized technology function will improve both the effectiveness and the cost of our services to clients.”

Shorter Jones Day: We don’t need so many expensive people to run things anymore.

Ouch.

Keep an eye on Jones to see if they quietly start picking up more IT people in the near future.  If they don’t, and they appear to be otherwise successful, then hold on tight, these cuts are coming to a firm near you soon.

But wait, it gets worse for IT people!

Edward Snowden (Hero or Traitor, love him or hate him) has not only drawn attention to nefarious government activities, he’s also drawn a lot of attention to Systems Administrators everywhere. SysAdmins rule the world. We have access to everything.  We can get into your emails, your private files, your super secret extra hidden browser history. And despite the occasional disgruntled outburst from an overworked and underpaid master of the universe, people generally trust us to keep our mouths shut and keep the company’s private information private.  Snowden ripped the poorly tied blindfold off and danced naked atop the NSA’s servers, shouting wildly about all of the confidential and private information stored there (mostly yours and mine).

In response, the New York Times ran an article in yesterday’s paper, asking the question that very few people have asked before now: “Can the I.T. staff be trusted?

Now, knowing what we all know about law firms’ aversion to risk and their lemming-like “follow the guy in front off the cliff” behavior, how do you think this is all adds up?

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Photo of Ryan McClead Ryan McClead

Ryan is an executive at a small, but well-known legal technology company. Prior to his jump to the vendor side, he served for 3 years as Legal Technology Innovation Architect at Norton Rose Fulbright, running Technology Innovation projects around the world. His sense of humor and remarkable tolerance for verbal and psychological abuse has gotten him through more than 15 years in Legal Technology. In 2015, McClead was named a FastCase 50 recipient, and in 2018, he was elected a Fellow in the College of Law Practice Management. In past lives, he was a Knowledge Manager, a Systems Analyst, an “IT Guy”, a Fashion Merchandiser and Theater Composer.

  • Based on the Jones Day article, it appears that technology (such as desktop virtualization) was the driving force for staff layoffs.

    Helpdesk support needs can be assessed based on ticket trends and user response time. The fact that they're not outsourcing the staff would ease the transition due to the existing team's knowledge of the firm's internal environment.

    In the ever-changing world of technology and cost-cuts, it's another reason why IT staff need to keep their skill sets current and diversified to maintain upward and lateral mobility.