Blank Rome offices in Washington, D.C.
Blank Rome offices in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Diego M. Radzinschi/ALM)

Blank Rome has brought on a new chief information officer who hails from Minneapolis-based Faegre Baker Daniels.

Andrea Markstrom joined the firm July 1, and is based in Blank Rome’s New York office. She replaces Laurence Liss, who is retiring from the firm after nearly two decades as CIO. Liss will stay on as CIO emeritus for several months to ease the transition.

Markstrom spent more than 10 years at Faegre, leading the firm’s technology infrastructure and support operations as director of information technology. Before that, she was a group manager for Target Corp., in charge of the retail chain’s entire technology infrastructure.

Her background in retail led to her process-based philosophy on IT organization, Markstrom said, which is something she plans to bring with her to Blank Rome. She said she plans to implement the Information Technology Infrastructure Library, or ITIL, practices for IT management.

Those practices create “more discipline, more rigor, more predictability out of the types of services you’re able to provide,” she said. And in a law firm atmosphere, that allows IT to be “up and running as soon as possible,” when a lawyer calls with a problem or request.

“We’re confident that Andrea’s solid technology and leadership experience in both the legal and corporate settings, coupled with her creative approaches to providing innovative client service, will help us continue to advance as a firm and achieve great results on behalf of our clients,” firm chairman Alan Hoffman said in a statement.

Markstrom said she was interested in joining Blank Rome for the opportunity to work on the East Coast, and because the firm has been growing. She also appreciated that Blank Rome has given technology “a seat at the table,” she said.

While she is based in New York, she said she will travel regularly to Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. Her team is located throughout those three offices, as well as Los Angeles and Houston.

Markstrom said the greatest challenges facing law firm CIOs are security and the consumerization of IT. Providing lawyers with the technology they need requires frequent meetings with IT staff and vendors, she said, as well as “constant monitoring” to ensure that security remains the top priority as her team provides those tools. And sometimes it might require customized development.“If there is not a solid solution or a solid offering from a vendor, if we can do it internally and if that can lend to a competitive advantage, I am all for it,” she said. “I’d like to really push our vendor community to be thinking more in terms of that as well. … If there’s a solution that’s not custom off the shelf, my question is why not?”