Categories:Middle East

DLA Gulf partner in A&O comeback

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  • Are we sure that McNair and Monk are really seconded to Oz? I reckon they lost their jobs because let's face it, McNair only had one client (Nakheel) which are not instructing anyone and Monk didn't have any big name loyal clients.

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  • DLA Piper Middle East have proven to have had a flawed Middle East strategy. They have made some horrible hiring decisions and now are paying the price!

    By the way, wati and see...more partners to go. If you look at their regional offices some are still seriously underperforming.

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  • Shehzaad left DLA Piper as Regional Head Finance to become a senior associate at AllenOvery.
    That should say about the state of affairs at DLA.

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  • The great thing about the recession is that the people that only came to Dubai during the end of the boom years or at the beginning of the recession (because they lost their jobs in their home countries) will be got rid of and sent packing. The likes of Monk and McNair never had any real interest in the Gulf and only came to Dubai to get on the band wagon. They were paid far too much for doing next to nothing. They are now back in Oz and will never will return to the Gulf - thank God!

    The people left in Dubai after the recession will be paid realistic salaries and have real long term careers. Such people will help Dubai grow and prosper unlike the DLA Aussie mafia.

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  • says it all really about tDLA - better off as a SA than DLA's regional head of finance - BTW - have they actually got a finance department?

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  • With regard to the second comment, I don't agree that the ME offices are underperforming - Given the poor quality of lawyers they've recruited (and who remain) you can't really expect anything else. I understand that utilisation is hovering around the 10% mark (whilst recovery is an other question).

    Sir Nige - why don't you just close the doors and cut your (considerable) losses!?

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  • Correct me if I'm wrong but Damian McNair is a construction lawyer (whose professional gems include the drafting of Nakheel's standard form contracts).

    God knows how he can possibly lead a finance department when he can't even get his specialism right- but wait - DLA haven't actually got a finance department!!

    What a disaster!! Close up shop!!

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  • The term Aussie Mafia just shows how inept, ill-informed and ignorant some people are. The Aussies were specifically sought out and encouraged to come to the region especially during the boom as most of the people there at the time could not deliver and did not have the necessary skills. Many worked 16 hour days 7 days a week both at DLAs and at Nakheel and many national projects such Palm Jumeirah simply would not have been delivered without them. With attitudes such as these the region will only ever attract D grade talent.

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  • 'With attitudes such as these the region will only ever attract D grade talent.'

    That pretty much reads like an admission that all it's ever attracted to date is D (LA) grade talent....

    Also the term Aussie Mafia is the one used internally within DLA Piper to describe them and refers not only to their place of orgin but to the manner in which they conduct themselves within the office.

    So I'm not sure why you think using that term makes the poster above inept, ill informed or ignorant.

    As for the 'many national projects such as Palm Jumeriah simply would not have been delivered without them' well that deserves all the attention that kind of excessive hyperbole should get.

    Palm Jumeriah was essentially 'completed' i.e handover of first residential units in 2006 i.e before DLA Piper even opened an office in Dubai and long before McNair and Co turned up.

    They were less important to the delivery of those projects as one of the guys in a blue boilersuit delivered to the construction site in a unairconditioned bus everyday. They just got paid a lot more and had nicer transportation.

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  • Who did those project contracts then?

    Btw, judging by some of the grammar, spelling and punctuation in these comments, I can’t tell if some of you people are lawyers or 9-year-olds.

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  • Hmm… is Anonymous @ 8:35 is one of the few barely surviving members of said Aussie Mafia? Secondment to Phillips Fox is professional purgatory for Aussie mafiosi who have sinned. ‘Secondment’ to Oz was the cheap , face saving way to clear the Dubai office.

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  • Anonymous | 3-Mar-2010 8:35 am - Surely McNair and Co are the very epitome of "D grade talent"?

    Anonymous 3-Mar-2010 12:59 pm - As far as I know none of DLA's project contracts have ever been signed (or paid for) in the region as so they certainly weren't prepared by DLA.

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  • mcnair and monk are not the only ones being 'seconded'. others in dubai, abu dhabi and riyadh are also about to start long term 'secondments' back to their aussie homeland. watch this space.

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  • The insinuations of virtual criminality on the part of the Australians who helped build DLA Piper’s Dubai office are the only hyperbole I see in these comments. Aussie Mafia…Aussie Mafioso who have sinned? What did these guys do that was so evil? They had a couple amazing years thanks in large part to Nakheel and then got over-zealous in their hiring because of the faulty assumption that Nakheel would keep them well fed. Then came the shockwave at the end of 2008 which DLA fell victim to just like almost every other entity on this rock.
    So who’s piling on the hyperbole now? I can’t help but think that some of the vitriol we’re seeing in these comments comes from somewhere personal as opposed to objective analysis.

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  • I'm bewildered by Abdul Aziz Al-Yaqout's reference to DLA's middle east clients as I'm sure they haven't got any as evidenced by the firm's shockingly low average utilisation rate.

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  • I wonder what the future holds for DLA ME? They're operating in a competitive market with an inferior product and a battered reputation - who in their right mind would instruct them?

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  • AUSSIES, PLEASE NOTE THESE COMMENTS ARE NOT MADE AGAINST THE NATION OF OZ, THEY ARE MADE AGAINST A BUNCH OF NASTY PEOPLE WHO LOOKED AFTER THEMSELVES AND THEIR FRIENDS WHO HAPPENED TO COME FROM OZ. I THINK OZ IS A GREAT COUNTRY.

    I used to work at DLA and have to say that these so called "Aussie Magic Circle" lawyers at DLA are the same as mid market lawyers in London (ie below Silver Circle). They are nothing like lawyers from the Global Quartet (i.e. the real Magic Circle who are the best in every jurisdiction that they practice in: Freshfields, Clifford Chance, A&O and Linklaters) who I have also worked with.

    All the Mallesons crew know is the tiny legal market in Australia (20 million pop) and have no international experience (they may have sent a few emails to a law firm in Hong Kong). They may be good in Oz but not worldwide.


    They did not know how to approach Gulf problems because they were so used to the Malesons way of doing things in Oz. Dubai and Riyadh are not the same as Melbourne and Sydney!!

    There were many lawyers from elsewhere in the world that could have been recruited to DLA but only Aussies from Malesons and Minties were recruited because they are all friends with each other. In my opinion it should be the best person for the job regardless of race and nationality.

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  • Ignoring the obvious face-saving reorganisation which has/is taking place at DLA by their "seconding" the Aussie partners back to their homeland (and not before time IMHO), what is also apparent is that the exodus has started of those other unfortunate souls caught up in the mess.

    As a former client of DLA, I have seen a gradual depletion in the 'quality' on offer at DLA as their lawyers who have a choice have voted with their feet. From what I can see, there is now a disproportionate concentration of very average lawyers, and even more average partners.

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  • What does this say about Yaqout and DLA management that they are announcing that their ME finance practice is being run out of Australia by the exiled?

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  • The only thing it says about Yaqout is that he's doing what he can with the FUBAR situation he inherited.

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  • The main problem with Aussie mafia was that it was an "old boys" club which meant that people were promoted way beyond their station (and capabilities) - this resulted in some absurd appointments including making a 2/3 PQE lawyer partner!!

    No wonder there are serious questions being raised about DLA's quality (especially at partner level) and place in the market.

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  • This really raises serious qustions about the management decisions of DLA - How could they let the so called "Aussie Mafia situation" continue unchecked for so long? They should have nipped the sitution in the bud long ago by firing these partners rather than "seconding' back to Oz. I'd have also thought the Phillips Fox is taking a big risk in terms of their reputation own by employing these "damaged goods" - Word travels fast.

    I think this situation has done DLA ME irreparable damage and, as previously commented, who in their right mind would instruct DLA ME again!!

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  • The so-called "Aussie Mafia" situation was working splendidly right up until Nakeel stopped working. At that point, DLA was stuck with them because they have termination provisions that require a one-year salary buyout. For some of those guys, that means a cash payment of as much as $1 Million. So it's actually cheaper to second them.

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  • Let's examine DLA Middle East...

    No more finance practice, there supposed "head of corporate" is back full time in Oz chasing 'roos so no corporate practice, no projects work.... An international firm in the Gulf with no corporate or finance practice makes no sense at all. What is left? Trademark applications? ha ha.

    I guess the rumors of DLA Middle East closing down to 7-8 lawyers and becoming a "rep office" by the end of June 2010 are true. What doesn't DLA save its expenses for the next three months and close down now.

    The problem with DLA's reputation is that at this point they would never be able to recruit a partner in the Gulf with a book of business, which is what they need since they have none.

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  • I am not Australian I am not English; I am an Arab who worked with DLA. The racist comments here are idiotic and beyond belief. What exactly is the aussi mafia? It's incredibly ignorant to assume that just because Australians ran DLA for a period of time, you blame them for being made redundant. It is unacceptable that on every opportunity you losers come up, bring your pain and bring all your hate. If you are still writing at this point, maybe you should accept that you have been fired, and work through it emotionally. Just to bring everyone up to date, DLA ME is doing fine. They are hiring and things are getting back to normal. Thank God.

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  • Arab @ 12:57 must be working at DLA's Planet Mars office. I work for DLA in the Middle East, on Planet Earth. Things are horrid here. There is no work. Management is inept. The best of the Dubai and Abu Dhabi offices did vote with their feet and the unlucky young souls who remain work with the leftover D grade talent under threat of redundancy. Yes quality has declined. The comment about DLA hiring from Arab @ 12:57 is a good example of the quality level. He or she has given the recently made redundant good reason to consider arbitrary dismissal claims. Well done. Does DLA bill clients for such legal mastery?

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  • Dear 'Arab' at 12:57
    'It is unacceptable that on every opportunity you losers come up, bring your pain and bring all your hate''
    Nice.
    Perhaps you should consider that the reason all these 'losers' come on here bringing their 'hate' and 'pain' is because what was genuinely unacceptable was the manner in which the majority of them were treated when they lost their jobs.
    Perhaps DLA should be 'thanking' their HR staff for that and whoever else was involved in deciding how to handle the process.
    And frankly lots of lawyers in the Gulf were made redundant (hamdulillah I wasn't one of them) but clearly those firms managed to handle that process in a manner which did not create so much 'hate' and 'pain' and vitriolic opinion in those who were made redundant.
    That, in and of itself, probably says more about the firm and its management than anything else which could possibly be published about them.
    That aside who on earth do you think you are to tell people on a open comments page that it's 'unacceptable' for them to express their opinion and views on the firm?

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  • In response to "Arab":
    This comment is clearly made up. I was a former junior consultant in the Dubai office and am Arab. I can tell you that the Aussies were extremely anti-Arab in all phases.
    Also, how can you say they are hiring and everything is fine. This is a bald-faced lie. They were at 120 lawyers in 2008, cut down to 65, then to 35 and by June to 7 or 8 survivors. How is this fine!! Who are you kidding?

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  • To "Arab", I was never made redundant. I am working at a decent international law firm and earning more than I would at DLA.
    I left DLA because (1) I hated the culture (2) my career was suffering (3) poor quality work (4) useless supervision (5) bad reputation of DLA (6) everything said at the interview was a lie (7) incompetence and inefficiency of senior lawyers.
    Pretty good reasons, don't you think?!!

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  • Clearly forced out, as was predicted last year and their notice periods are probably about to expire. The secondment is a cover up for them trying to get any job they can in the network and DLA letting them tell a secondment story to avoid the embarrassment of failure.

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  • I am pretty against bashing previous employers from behind a veil of internet anonymity, so I will own my comments, I am Andrew Di Pasquale, and was a Senior Legal Consultant in the Projects Group at DLA. I left DLA in early 2009.
    I arrived in Dubai in 2007, when the Projects group was around 10 fee earners, the Abu Dhabi office did not have its license yet, and the firm was starting an aggressive push for growth.
    There were 10 or so of us trying to service a very large client, trying to put together multiple deals. Under normal circumstances, one project financed deal of the size we were doing would have justified having the entire team engaged, however we were being asked to simultaneously put together tens of them, across different utility sectors, in timeframes that were less than half what you would ordinarily expect for deals of that type.
    So we worked hard, and we put in the hours, and we billed.
    But we did not have enough people, so they recruited, and they recruited against the work flow that they had, which meant a lot of recruitment.
    And then the bottom fell out, and a lot of people had nothing to do, the end.
    That is it. If the GFC had not smashed Dubai like it did, McNair et al would have been thought of as visionary for putting together such a team in such a short space of time, instead, it did smash Dubai, and people lost their jobs.
    So what? People lost their jobs everywhere. The biggest mistake DLA Middle East made was that instead of making a decisive downsizing decision when it became apparent it was too large for the new Dubai reality, it tried to put together programs such as reduced working hours and secondments to save jobs, which left too many people with too much time to post comments on discussion boards.
    Be a bit more classy people, why insult your former employer, it just makes your CV look worse.

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  • DLA ME are not hiring, they are still firing (only it isn't called that or admitted by the firm). Hopefully, once the clear out has finished you will then realise just how "fine" everything is.

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  • Andrew, you weren't ever a SENIOR legal consultant at DLA...
    And I respect the fact that people wish to protect their identities (myself included) for fear of having one's reputation further damaged by the DLA disaster.
    The fact remains, that the comments on here are true that a minority of very poor quality Australians ruined what had become a very good platform for DLA, and they didn't just stop at shipping in second rate lawyers.
    DLA is now a third rate provisional Aussie practice, which unfortunately is where it has now slid from what promised to become an excellent practice, much to the annoyance of the other firms here, hence why everyone is delighting in the DLA debacle.

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  • Given my comments keep being censored... At least do me the service of pointing out where the head of HR and the current COO (who was Damian McNair's former secretary) both hail from. Yep, you guessed it, Australia, and both of these appointed by the same Aussie partners who themselves are so spectacularly underperforming. But of course, the Aussie mafia is just a figment of about 200 people's imagination that used to work at DLA.

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  • Andrew, nice post right to the point. Unfortunately, the racist attacks on Australians (and Arabs) didn’t end here. Instead of the self-pitying whining from usual bloggers “I can't find a job, I'm depressed, I’m a loser, I hate DLA and I hate life right now”, I sincerely hope you all find a job if you are still looking so that you regain your self-worth.

    My Lord I pray for all bloggers to ask, seek, knock and open a door of opportunity for them to find another job. Amen

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  • It should be pointed out that Andrew is Australian and was recruited from Australia by Damian McNair. This is not intended as a personal comment. It hardly can be said that building an entire practice or office around a single client is visionary. The Australians who occupied all of the practice head and department head roles with few negligible exceptions operated in selfishly to the exclusion of everything and everyone. They marginalised non Australians as a rule and their tribalism led to departures of smart people with business and understanding of the region. It is not appropriate to publicise a greedy and flawed internal belief that a client would keep an entire office 'well fed' or to blame a client for the failings of a firm. I hope someone inside Nakheel has read these comments and the other articles about DLA.

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  • Interesting comments.

    I am a former client of DLA Dubai.

    All I can say is never again. I received a pricy but poor quality advice (which was largely inaccurate).

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  • Former DLA employee, I am not sure whether your comment is having a stab, or whether you really don't think I was ever a Senior Legal Consultant at DLA, but I assure you, I was.

    There were about 6 SLC's in the Projects group, and I was one of them. We all pretty much got made up in June 2008.

    But anyway, enough internet chit chat for me...

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  • Holey Dooley!

    Relax mates. Throw another one on the Barbie. A short captain cook in Dubai can tell ya everything is bloody spiffy at the moment. Those guys weren't sent to never never, they just needed a few offsider's down under for a bit. 2010 is gonna be a corker!

    Hooroo

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  • I have to laugh at 'Arab' playing the "race card". Perhaps I am missing the point, but I don't see any racist posts on here...

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  • Andrew, I think your last post is case in point to the other posts on here - i.e. that a whole load of Aussies working for Aussies were promoted well before their years... much to the detriment of the rest of the practice.

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  • ...fair play to Shezhaad for cutting his losses and rejoining a decent shop. At least he'll get to do some deals at A&O as their F&P practice has some clients and some work to do.

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  • Former DLA employee, I think your posts show what a worthless platform anonymous vaguely libelous comments really are. If you are going to head onto the internet and and start spreading misinformation, at least do it under your own name.

    For the record, as to your last post before this one, Damian's "former secretary" who became COO was never Damian's secretary, she was the head of BD for the projects group.

    Were you even at DLA?

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  • Due to the recession a lot of lawyers have lost their jobs and now a lot of law firms do not have any work. A lot of lawyers are a bit disgruntled. We all know this but DLA is unique because:
    (1) They treated their staff like trash
    (2) They thought they were the biggest and best but were below average
    (3) They talk rubbish to everyone at their interviews (I was told that I would be working on deals on the front pages of the Wall Street Journal - yeah right!!!)
    (4) Their so called amazing lawyers from Mallesons were indecisive poor problem solvers
    (5) There was a huge amount of favouritism towards friends and buddies from Mallesons - there was no meritocracy. The best people were not in the best positions.
    (6) They knew nothing about the culture of the Gulf and thought that the Mallesons way of doing things was the only way.

    All law firms have problems and can be unpleasant places to work but DLA in Dubai was at another level and this is why so many people write into Roll on Friday, the Lawyer and other websites. It is because they were so badly treated and lied to without any justification.

    People have a right to air their views and make comments - something DLA would never allow you to do unless you were an Aussie from Mallesons.

    I do not want people to lose their jobs but I know that DLA Dubai will get smaller throughout the year. I hope the lawyers who lose their jobs find work quickly but DLA will probably close like they did in Doha.

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  • I'm surprised that no one's mentioned the loud, obnoxious Sheilas or the fact that the DLA Aussie lawyers had (and still have) a complete lack of dress sense (which was/is ground enough in itself to pack them off to Aussieland!).

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  • Anonymous @ 9:43 am, contrary to what you stated, Doha office is up and running and has already attracted big names. I hope I didnt freak you out even more than you already are. Get yourself out of this chat room and deal with your misery.

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  • It's kind of hard to take anything you write seriously when one of your assertions is so easily proven false. All it takes is a quick trip to dlapiper.com to see that DLA still has a Doha office. Give Stuart Diana a call.

    Unbelievable. So many blatant lies.

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  • - have you read the chamber's article?
    - three heads of finance ME in two years.
    - head of office, becomes head of corporate, becomes head of bd india
    - fourth head of riyad office in two years
    - head of kuwait leaves within one year
    - head of corporate leaves to oz within two years
    - head of projects leaves in three years
    - partners find jobs as associates
    - one key employee previously wanted for murder

    facts people facts..........

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  • As Anonymous @ 9:43 am says, there will almost certainly be further job cuts at DLA Middle East in coming months. I wonder if the likes of "Arab" and "Anonymous @4.55pm" will be quite such staunch supporters of DLA then if the axe should fall on them.

    In my view, the management (in particular David Church) should take the lion's share of responsibility for the unhappy situation DLA now finds itself in for allowing the "Aussie Mafia" to run the business into the ground.

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  • The argument that DLA and its employees were victims of the recession must fail on the basis that the firm was STILL hiring after Nakheel’s problems were well known. Obviously the lawyers who were on staff at the time were concerned and asked questions. They were met with disingenuous explanations as to how the firm was going to approach the decline in work. Soon after, they were offered reduced hours (but please still work a full week) and sabbaticals. The definition of a sabbatical is a little different in the DLA world. It means: “we don’t have the guts to fire you now but do come back in 6 months when the situation is worse and it will be easier for us”.

    The expected 2010 growth rates for most Gulf nations are still 3 to 6 times higher than most countries. All other firms in the region have work – why not DLA? Ohhhh, let’s just blame the recession again!

    Where there is smoke there is fire. Currently, the DLA Piper Dubai office consists of a few Australian BFF of McNair & Co (with no departmental heads) rattling around. However, they do stride around the office clenching documents with purpose– just don’t stroll into the old portion of the office as that is being sub-let. The balance are seconded (AKA made redundant) in Australia. Again disingenuous, they are simply trying to take advantage of the last ounce of benefit that the DLA network might provide – a return to Australia. It might work.

    There are countless ways in which to bend the many facts and examples to paint a picture however, just pause and look at what has happened sequentially. Most importantly in this whole saga - if only the lawyers could have got on with planning the balance of their careers instead of treading in a pool of deception and favouritism. The hires continued not because there was any realistic prospect of work for the existing staff (forget the incoming staff) but because of promises made and ego.

    I look forward to current DLA staff picking on small and immaterial aspects of this post towards the deluded notion that you are a) safe and b) doing the right thing for you career – in between football training sessions of course.

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