Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner has hired longtime Baker McKenzie global chief information officer Dan Surowiec to serve as its next CIO, rejoining his former colleague Jason Marty, who came aboard as the trans-Atlantic firm’s chief operations officer in 2020.
Surowiec, who had been at Baker McKenzie for over two decades and sat in the global CIO role for the past 11 years, will be presiding over the integration of innovation professionals from BCLP’s now-shuttered Cubed subsidiary into the core of the firm.
“When it comes to innovation, it’s really critical for a law firm to demonstrate its lawyers are going out in the marketplace with these tools in hand,” Surowiec said. “We want to walk away from our folks being able to point a finger and say, ‘They do innovation over there.’”
Leaders at BCLP had previously indicated they intended to embed the work handled by Cubed, which was launched in 2019 to leverage technology for high-volume tasks, more directly within the firm. In June, chief innovation officer Katie DeBord, who led Cubed in the U.S., moved to legal tech company Disco.
Surowiec noted that with this change in approach, as well as the groundwork that had been laid since the 2018 merger of Bryan Cave and Berwin Leighton Paisner, it was an appealing time to come on board. He added that he was eager to reunite with Marty, noting a longtime appreciation for how his former colleague viewed the process of reinventing the delivery of legal services.
“With all of the industry talk about innovation, to be involved in a ground-up operation and where the firm is invested at the platform level, it’s something any CIO would jump to the opportunity,” he said.
Surowiec, who started at BCLP last week, said his initial focus is on attacking some basic operational issues, but he’s ultimately eager to make strides in areas such as digital transformation, enterprise data strategies and deployment of artificial intelligence on behalf of client and internal demands.
He acknowledged the challenge in delivering change within law firms and all organizations, emphasizing the importance of earning buy-in from attorneys by first listening to their needs and those of their clients, and then looking for “small, quick-win-type initiatives” to demonstrate success.
“You need to go out and show what’s possible so that people understand what change is and can embrace it with an open mind,” Surowiec said.
Surowiec, who is based in Chicago, will ultimately oversee the technology teams and all technology decisions across the global firm, working closely with firm leadership. He replaces Connie Hofman, who is moving into the new role of global director of procurement for the firm.
“As we continue our strategy of building strength-on-strength in priority, high-growth practices around the globe, Dan is a world-class leader who will be a tremendous asset to us and will play a key role in the next phase of innovation at BCLP in service to our clients,” said BCLP co-chairs Lisa Mayhew and Steve Baumer said in a statement.
A spokesperson for Baker McKenzie said: “We thank Dan for his many contributions to Baker McKenzie and wish him well in his new endeavor.”