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Legal Project Management 2021

Speaker(s): Ashley Woodill, Carla Landry, Cassie Vertovec, Connie Brenton, Daniel B. Higgins, David A. Rueff, Jr., David S. Hartnett, Esther D. Bowers, Gregory Kaple, Helen R. Cristofalo, Justin Hectus, Kelly A. Quigley, Melissa C. Prince, Susan Raridon Lambreth, Tony Nelson, Travis Rhadans
Recorded on: Feb. 10, 2021
PLI Program #: 306936

Cassie Vertovec has spent over fifteen years working on the management side of three AmLaw 100 law firms. She has held various roles helping these firms to improve their business operations, strategy, and financial performance. She drives external client value and delivers internal strategic business advice, enabling law firms to be more efficient, organized, and deliberate.

As the Managing Director of Practice Management and Innovation at Paul Hastings, Cassie leads the Firm’s Legal Project Management and Alternative Timekeepers teams. She is also responsible for designing and developing the Practice Management function and team. In this role, Cassie drives the strategic vision and growth of her areas of responsibility. Her teams are focused on providing superior value and a competitive edge to the Firm’s clients, while also improving internal Firm processes and profitability.

Prior to joining Paul Hastings, Cassie was the firm-wide Director of Practice Management at Venable, where she co-architected the development of the Department. There, she was responsible for leading the operations, administration, and strategy of the Firm’s legal divisions. She advised members of Firm management on business and industry trends, and focused on bringing innovation and process improvement initiatives to the Firm. Venable’s Practice Management team grew to one of the largest in the industry, and was strategically designed to optimize the alignment of Firm practices with client value expectations.

Cassie’s career in legal began at Seyfarth Shaw, where she became the National Department and Practice Group Manager for the Firm’s top-tier Labor & Employment Department. In that role, she was a recognized thought leader and subject matter expert on the substance and business of labor and employment law. She was a member of the Department’s Leadership Team and served as the business advisor to the Chair of the Department. She focused on crafting and executing the strategic plan, which emphasized innovative solutions, process improvement, and driving client value.

Cassie is also a regular contributor to the legal industry. She has been a member of and contributor to LawVision’s industry-leading roundtables for 14 years, in the areas of Practice Management and Legal Project Management. Cassie was on the conference planning committee for the 2020 P3 conference, which was the first in LMA’s history to convert to a fully virtual experience. She is on the Legal Value Network’s (“LVN”) “Council of Luminaries” and is a participant in LVN’s new committee for member roundtables. She is also on the conference planning committee for LVN’s inaugural 2021 conference. She is also a recent participant in CLOC’s LPM committee.


Daniel Higgins is a senior partner in Dentons national Health Care practice group, resident in the San Francisco office.

Dan has represented many of the most respected brands in U.S. health care, advising boards and senior management at strategic inflection points and in transactions. Dan’s depth of industry experience and creative understanding of the governance, corporate and business environment place him as a recognized thought leader in the field.


  • Santa Clara University School of Law, 1977, JD, magna cum laude
  • Stanford University, 1973, BA, philosophy, with distinction

Skill Sets

  • Strategic consulting with a business perspective
  • Corporate, M&A, governance and financing expertise
  • Strong communication skills
  • Focus on actionable solutions
  • Team leadership
  • Project management


  • Recognized by Best Lawyers in America® for Health Care since 1991
  • Chambers USA, 2005–2019; listed as Band 1 in California since 2006 and ranked among the “Top Healthcare Attorneys in the US”
  • SuperLawyers, 2005–2019; feature article in 2005
  • Named Top Health Care Lawyer by the Daily Journal for 2019
  • 2019 Deal of the Year - Health Care: CommonSpirit Health: Bond Buyer 

David A. Rueff Jr. is a shareholder in the Jackson office of Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, PC. His practice is focused on commercial real estate and lending for commercial retail developers, lenders, landlords and tenants. His practice also includes Government Services involving the administration of federal Community Block Development Grant funds for the States of New York, Texas, Mississippi and New Jersey. Mr. Rueff served as Senior Legal Counsel for a state Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) housing program where he worked with a Project Management Office. In this role, he counseled the state agency on issues of CDBG policy development, design of processes and databases to manage grant processing, oversaw grant project teams that included a department of 11 attorneys and 20 paralegals, and managed title verification and grant closings for more than 10,000 housing applicants. 

Mr. Rueff  also leads Baker Donelson's legal project management and pricing initiatives as the Firm's Legal Project Management Officer. As a certified project manager (PMPTM) through the Project Management Institute, Mr. Rueff oversees the Firm's other project managers and legal specialists and is responsible for implementation of the Firm's patent pending LPM system, BakerManage, which promotes efficiency and predictability in legal services in both litigation and transactional matters. Mr. Rueff  also manages the Firm's Pricing Department which is responsible for developing innovative pricing solutions for all the Firm's practice areas.

Esther Bowers is the firm's Director of Practice Management. She is responsible for the design, implementation, operation and coordination of cross-departmental and multidisciplinary task forces focused on efforts to enhance how Honigman provides services to clients. Ms. Bowers led the team in the development of the firm’s FOCUS program which combines innovative practice technologies, legal project management principles, and matter-specific staffing models to drive efficiencies and value.  

Prior to joining Honigman, Ms. Bowers was the Director of Client Service Initiatives at Barnes & Thornburg LLP leading the firm’s client-facing services, including value-add offerings, legal project management efforts, and client feedback and key client programs. As co-creator of the BT ValueWorks program, Ms. Bowers was responsible for LPM program implementation, training and counseling attorneys on LPM and process improvement. She also led the firm’s Client Service Program, which included implementing customized client service plans for key clients, client research and client visits by firm managing partners.

Ms. Bowers is active in the value and innovation communities and currently serves as co-chair of the Legal Value Network’s (LVN) Education Committee. She has authored articles and presented on legal project management for the American Bar Association (ABA), the Attorneys’ Liability Assurance Society (ALAS) and Practising Law Institute (PLI), among others. She has also presented on client value and client service for Legal Marketing Association (LMA) conferences and podcasts. Ms. Bowers received her B.S. in finance from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She is certified as a trainer in legal project management by LawVision and has her White Belt from Legal Lean Sigma Institute LLC.  

Gregory J. Kaple is the Senior Director, Legal Business Services, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan. Kaple has led strategy development for Fortune 100 and AmLaw 250 companies. He has founded and led new ventures in professional services, media production, cloud services, and retail franchises. Kaple has a Master of Science from Stevens Institute of Technology and a Bachelor of Business Administration from Ohio University. He hail's originally from Dayton, OH, roots for the Michigan Wolverines, and plays a mean blues harmonica on stage.

Melissa Prince serves as the firm's Chief Client Value and Innovation Officer and sits on the firm's Management Committee and Expanded Board.

Melissa focuses on listening to client needs and understanding how each client's business operates in order to make the connection between value and innovation. She oversees the firm's Client Value and Innovation program, which includes more than 20 business professionals focused on creating a customized experience for each client.

Melissa is a frequent speaker, presenter, and author on legal operations topics. She recently launched the Ballard360 Insider blog, which is focused on delivering insights and best practices in legal operations. Under Melissa's leadership, the firm recently received an innovation award from the Financial Times for Rethinking the Workplace and was named to the Financial Times' Most Innovative Law Firms Business of Law, an innovation "Mover and Shaker" by BTI Consulting, and a finalist for the American Lawyer Industry Awards in the best law firm/client team and best business team categories.

Before coming to Ballard Spahr, Melissa held similar roles at two Am Law 25 firms. She is an attorney who, before leaving private practice, managed complex commercial litigation matters. She is a Six Sigma Green Belt, Accredicated Legal Pricing Professional (ALPP), and Accredited Legal Project Management Professional (ALPM).

Tony Nelson is the Legal Project Manager for NetApp, the global leader in hybrid cloud data services. In his role, Tony fosters and promotes continuous improvement, better collaboration, and ongoing learning within the legal department, which has been recognized internationally for its innovation in the areas of strategic vision, use of technology, new staffing/sourcing solutions, partner and financial management, efficiency gains and world-class operating metrics.

Tony received a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology with a minor in Philosophy from Arizona State University and a Master’s in Business Administration from the University of Phoenix. Tony holds certifications as a Project Management Professional (PMP) and Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP).

For the past 10 years, Tony worked in a variety of industries leading projects for government contractors, healthcare providers and insurers, and in the fields of software development, higher education, and live entertainment. His current position enables him to apply universal project management concepts within Legal and Legal Operations. 

Tony resides in Phoenix, Arizona and enjoys hiking and skiing in the nearby mountains. Before COVID-19, Tony was an avid traveler and he looks forward to visiting far-off lands again soon. In the meantime, he likes to cook and is working to master a soufflé pancake.

As Chief of Staff and Sr. Director of Legal Operations at NetApp Inc., Connie Brenton has leveraged her legal and business background to create an innovative and best in class legal department that has been recognized internationally for its innovation in the areas of strategic vision, technology adoption, new staffing/sourcing solutions, partner and financial management and building efficiencies by driving world class operating metrics.

Prior to NetApp, Connie served as Senior Director, Deputy General Counsel at Sun Microsystems and Managing Counsel at Oracle where she also initiated the Legal Operations role. Before joining the Legal Operations community, Connie was in private practice as a civil litigator.

Connie has been active in developing and promoting the Legal Operations role throughout the business and legal communities. She is the Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board of the Corporate Legal Operations Consortium (CLOC), the world’s largest, fastest growing and most active international group of legal operations professionals, growing its membership from 40 to 1800 in less than three years. She publishes on the topics of the changing legal ecosystem and legal operations and speaks internationally on the topic of “Running Legal like a Business.”

Connie holds a JD, an MBA and a BA in Economics. She was named as one of Corporate Counsel's National Women in Law in 2018, honored as one of the 100 Women of Influence in Silicon Valley for 2014 and was selected as one of the top 10 Deputy General Counsel in 2012.

Carla Landry has worked in the legal industry, both in-house and as a consultant, for more than 25 years. She currently serves as a Senior Consultant with LawVision, where she coaches legal teams on implementing legal project management and legal process improvement techniques into their matters.

Carla, together with her colleague and a team of certified Project Management Professionals (PMPs), created the first project management certification program designed for legal professionals, and launched the first online e-learning course in legal project management. She is a certified Yellow Belt in Lean Sigma/Process Improvement for Law Firms and works with firms to identify cost saving opportunities through streamlining the delivery of legal services and improving existing processes.

Carla developed two online e-learning courses for the Practising Law Institute (PLI), one on law firm profitability and the other on Legal Process Improvement, winning a Telly Award honoring “the very best in film and video.”  Law firms turn to her to develop e-learning programs to launch on their own systems.

Prior to joining LawVision, Carla was an adjunct faculty member at George Washington University, teaching Economics and Profitability Law Firms as part of a master’s program in law firm management. She is also a former Senior Director in the Law Firm Strategy and Structure Practice of Hildebrandt Baker Robbins, where she advised law firms on a variety of financial, strategic, and operational issues. Her earlier consulting experience included working as a manager in PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP’s Legal Systems group. In that capacity, she served as a project manager leading an international, multi-disciplinary team responsible for the analytical and diagnostic processes related to an investigative database.

David is the US Director, Pricing and Legal Project Management at Norton Rose Fulbright US LLP.  Norton Rose Fulbright is an  international law firm with over 3,500 attorneys and more than 50 offices worldwide.  

As the Director of Pricing and LPM, David leads teams that provide value-driven solutions to achieve our clients’ legal and business objectives.   David works closely with Firm attorneys, business stakeholders, and clients to implement and achieve innovative legal service delivery solutions.   David is responsible for creating and implementing value pricing and alternative fee arrangements.  David is also responsible for continuous improvement of innovative legal project management services and matter management that improves client satisfaction and achieves both client and Firm financial objectives.   

David is an Accredited Legal Pricing Professional (“ALPP”) and an Accredited Legal Project Manager (“ALPM”).  

Prior to joining Norton Rose Fulbright, David was a commercial litigator for sixteen years at Shook, Hardy & Bacon, where he specialized in defending Fortune 100 companies in mass tort and commercial litigation matters.  

David actively participates in legal conferences and network events, including presenting at True Value Partnering Institute (“TVPI”) events and ACC Legal Operations events.  

David received his J.D. from the University of Houston and his Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing from Boston College.

Helen has 5 years of experience leading implementation of Legal Project Management across Paul, Weiss. Helen started her career as an attorney in the litigation department of Paul, Weiss where she worked for 11 years before making the transition to Legal Project Management. Having managed numerous complex discovery projects, including budget preparation, work plans and teams, Helen brings the attorney perspective and approach to the core principles of Legal Project Management.  Helen has been particularly focused on cross-disciplinary collaboration within the firm’s management team as well as attorney development through education and tools. Helen has been certified in Legal Project Management and is an active member of Law Vision’s Legal Project Management roundtable. 

Justin Hectus is the CIO of Keesal, Young & Logan, named a “top boutique law firm” by the Daily Journal, and the CIO of KP Labs, a technology company focused on digital transformation.  Justin’s areas of focus include maximizing opportunities and managing risks related to new and emerging technologies, and he is currently engaged in such projects with more than a dozen Fortune 500 companies.  Justin is a three-time ILTA Distinguished Peer Award winner, a Commissioner for Technology & Innovation for the City of Long Beach, and the first and only CIO to be named to BTI’s Client Service All-Stars in 2020.

Kelly leads the Global Regulatory Practice Group Legal Project Management Team at Hogan Lovells - her firm for the last 8.5 years.  She is active with strategic planning, performance management, leadership development, innovation in client service/communication and driving process improvement.  Kelly has also managed the introduction of a new AI technology and a case management system during her time with Hogan Lovells. She holds a Project Management Professional (PMP) certification from the Project Management Institute and a Legal Project Manager (LPM) certification from LawVision.  As a leader in her industry, Kelly has represented Hogan Lovells as a webinar panelist on LPM and Pricing in collaboration with Clocktimizer and LawVision. 

Kelly got her start in project management as a litigation project manager on multiple steering committees managing several multi-billion dollar litigations across national and international jurisdictions.  She has also acted as a PM consultant to co-steering committee firms internationally. Thanks to her father who, as an operations manager, managed thousands of offices, Kelly naturally understands process improvement, efficiency measures and, most importantly, people motivation. Kelly operates under a win-win performance guideline. She believes efficiency, integrity, innovative approach and thinking like the client are key to continuous improvement and win-win solutions

Susan Lambreth is a founding Principal at LawVision and is nationally recognized as one of the top leadership, practice group and project management consultants for law firms. For over 25 years, she has helped law firms of all sizes improve their profitability and enhance their lawyers’ leadership and management skills.

Susan is the Chair and Founder of the LPM Institute, a leading resource for educating law firms and law departments on implementing project management in their organizations. She has given hundreds of speeches on practice management, LPM, strategy and trends affecting law firms or law departments.

Prior to co-founding LawVision, she was with Hildebrandt International for almost 20 years, where, in addition to her consulting work, she chaired many of their conferences and led several of the most successful roundtables for law firm professionals. Prior to that, Susan spent almost seven years with Altman & Weil. She is also the author or co-author of six leading books on practice group management and legal project management.

Travis Rhadans is a Manager of Strategic Planning & Analysis at Alston & Bird LLP. His responsibilities include working with internal and external stakeholders to design and implement creative pricing solutions that maximize value for both parties. Travis is also a leader in the firm’s matter management program, ABility, coaching attorneys and matter teams on best practices around pricing, budgeting, and process improvement.

Prior to joining Alston & Bird, Travis held leadership positions in finance at a law firm in the Atlanta area, and marketing strategy at a manufacturing company. These roles allowed Travis to gain an in-depth understanding of pricing, marketing and process improvement through the lens of both professional services and manufactured products in an array of distribution channels.

Travis holds an MBA from the Terry College of Business at the University of Georgia and an undergraduate degree in Finance from the Coles College of Business at Kennesaw State University. He is a certified green belt in the Six Sigma methodology.

Ashley joined TD Bank in 2017 and leads TD's US Legal Operations and Global Outside Counsel Management teams.  She was also recently appointed Chief of Staff to the US General Counsel. Prior to joining TD, Ashley was Associate Managing Attorney at GlaxoSmithKline. Ashley has dedicated her legal career to the business of law and is an expert in driving efficiencies in the delivery of legal services.