2018 RainDance Conference Speakers

(confirmed speakers, more to come)

David Ackert, President

Ackert Inc.

David Ackert has been a client development mentor to lawyers and their firms for over 15 years.  He is the president of The Ackert Advisory, a consulting firm that specializes in driving business results for law firms.  Through his programs his has worked thousands of lawyers, many of whom hail from top 20 global Am Law firms. He is the founder of the Managing Partner Institute, developing more effective law firm leaders worldwide, and the founder of Practice Boomers, winner of the “Your Honor Award” in both the US and Canada for excellence in practice development.

David has written for and contributed to articles in publications including the Los Angeles Times, The National Review, the Daily Journal, the Attorney Journal, the Wall Street Journal, Attorney At Work, The Recorder, Voice America, and the Los Angeles Business Journal. He is a frequent speaker at law firms and trade conferences including ABA, ALA, and numerous national conferences. He is a guest lecturer at USC’s Marshall School of Business, Carnegie Mellon University, and the UCLA School of Law.

Michael R. Caplan, Chief Operating Officer

Mr. Caplan, who joined Goodwin in 2014, serves as the firm’s chief operating officer. As COO, he manages the firm's business, financial and administrative operations. He serves on Goodwin's Executive and Management Committees, and focuses on the firm’s growth strategy and execution. 

His background includes roles in both corporate and consulting management positions where he has worked with over 30 general counsels in managing data analytics, technology project implementation, law firm relationship management and financial management. In consulting, he focused on managing engagements related to intelligent cost reduction for non-compensation expenses, program management, compliance, risk management and legal spend management. These practice areas focus on building relationships with corporate legal, sourcing and finance departments.

Jim Cranston, Principal
LawVision Group

Jim Cranston is a founding Principal of LawVision Group and is widely recognized as a leading authority on sales and business development in the legal industry. He has developed a unique method for teaching sales skills to lawyers and law firms, which consistently helps professionals win new clients and grow firm revenues through his innovative programs. Previously he served as a Managing Director with Hildebrandt Baker Robbins, one of the world’s leading law firm consultancy organizations. Prior to joining Hildebrandt, Jim co-founded CoulterCranston, a consulting firm focused on assisting law firms with all facets of business development. Jim was also a member of the senior leadership team at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman in San Francisco.  As the Director of Business Development, he was instrumental in creating and implementing the client team program resulting in significant growth with many of the firm’s top clients.

Prior to his work in the legal industry, Jim spent fourteen years selling consulting services in Northern and Southern California. In 1990, he was one of the first recognized business development executives among the Big Eight where he served as regional sales manager at Price Waterhouse. Four years later, he was recruited to grow the consulting practice at Arthur Andersen as the Director of Business Development. During his seven-year tenure at Andersen, Jim received the prestigious “Sales Excellence Award” on four occasions and later received the firms “Top Producer” award.

John Cunningham, Esq.
Freelance Writer, Editor & Consultant

John is a freelance writer and communications consultant who practiced law for nearly 17 years. During nine of those years, he served as V.P. and General Counsel to a publicly held international company and as General Counsel and Secretary to a Fortune 100 subsidiary.

He also served as a news editor and reporter for Lawyers Weekly publications for more than four years. As a reporter and writer, John has produced articles for more than 20 press publications, covering stories about virtually all legal practice disciplines, as well as the marketing and management of law firms.  As a freelancer, he has also written white papers, newsletters, marketing materials and Web site content for trade associations and professional service firms.

John attended Boston College Law School, where he was a magna cum laude graduate, member of the Order of the Coif, and an editor for the Environmental Affairs Law Review. For a complete profile, including information about his business, click on the “About” tab at: http://johnocunningham.wordpress.com

Brackett B. Denniston, Senior Counsel

Brackett Denniston, senior counsel in Goodwin’s Litigation Department, advises clients on matters involving corporate governance, complex litigation and regulatory issues. He has extensive senior leadership experience, in both the public and private sectors.

In 2016, Mr. Denniston rejoined Goodwin from General Electric Company, where he was Senior Vice President and General Counsel for more than a decade. In this position, he was responsible for leading a global legal, environmental and safety, and government affairs team of more than 3,000 professionals worldwide in matters involving compliance, corporate governance, IP protection, dispute resolution, government affairs, pro bono and diversity. During his time at GE, it was named best legal department by Corporate Counsel magazine and he was named among the most influential lawyers by the National Law Journal. He joined GE in 1996 as Vice President and Senior Counsel of Litigation and Legal Policy.

Brent Jones
Three Time Super Bowl Champion and Venture Capitalist

Brent Jones spent most of his twelve-year career in the National Football League playing for the San Francisco 49ers, the dominant team of his era. He won three Super Bowl rings and received the NFL’s Bart Starr Award for outstanding character in the home, on the field and in the community. In 2000 he co-founded Northgate Capital, a venture capital and private equity firm in Silicon Valley.

John Hellerman
, President
Hellerman Communications

John Hellerman is the President of Hellerman Communications, an award-winning corporate communications agency positioning professionals to win business and navigate crises. John is a Fellow of the College of Law Practice Management, was recently recognized in The National Law Journal’s inaugural list of “50 Business of Law Trailblazers & Pioneers” and was named Agency Executive of the Year by PR News. Follow him at @jhellerman.

Neel Lilani, Managing Director

Neel Lilani drives new global business opportunities through coordinated strategies across the technology sector.  As Managing Director, he leads Orrick’s global corporate development group and manages the firm’s venture capital relationships to help companies with growth financing and business strategy evolution.


He has served in senior strategy roles at some of the world’s leading law firms and Fortune 500 companies and is passionate about international growth, strategic planning, and technology-driven businesses.

Andy Peterson, Co-founder
Design Build Legal

Andy Peterson has spent the last nine years throwing himself into designing better experiences for clients and customers: more transparent, more collaborative, and more efficient, where decision-making is driven by data as much as by gut feeling. He thrives at working directly with clients to design technology, process, data analysis, and staffing initiatives that solve some of their most difficult legal and business challenges.

Kate White
, Co-founder
Design Build Legal

As a Co-founder of Design Build Legal, Kate White works with law firms and legal departments to identify and execute on strategic client engagement and innovation initiatives. Her focus throughout her career has been helping lawyers design client-centered solutions, deliver value-added services, and build strong client teams and engagement models. Kate is also the co-host of the podcast Legal Ops Rising.

Prior to launching Design Build Legal, Kate was a founding member of Davis Wright Tremaine's innovation effort, DWT De Novo, which resulted in the firm being recognized as ILTA's Innovative Law Firm of the Year two years in a row. She also spent many years as a Business Development Manager, helping an Am Law 200 firm launch and market new practice and industry areas and win new work. Kate has a J.D. from Seattle University School of Law and has completed the Stanford Law School & d.school's Legal Design Thinking Workshop.

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