Hall of Fame - Dave Ackerman
This bio has been edited and condensed from a verbal interview with Mr. Ackerman.
David Ackerman practiced ESOP law for over 25 years, until retiring in 2014. During that time, Dave became one of the most experienced ESOP lawyers in the country. He worked on hundreds of ESOPs, representing business owners, ESOP trustees, banks, and other participants in ESOP transactions. Included in Dave’s career is work on some of the largest and most complex ESOP transactions of his time. Dave was highly respected for his detailed knowledge of the laws regulating ESOPs, for his creativity, for his integrity (and, within his firm, for his expertise in the proper use of commas and semi-colons).
Dave was deeply involved in the affairs of The ESOP Association, for which he spoke regularly at ESOP conferences, served as chair of the Legal Committee, helped to set up the committee on fiduciary law, and served on the Association’s Board of Directors. Dave was also deeply involved in the affairs of the National Center for Employee Ownership, attending and speaking at numerous of their conferences. In addition, Dave was a founding member of Employee Owned S Corporations of America, for which he served as an advisor for 15 years. Over the years, Dave also spoke at countless ESOP seminars throughout the country and wrote over 20 published articles on ESOPs, including a 150-page treatise on the responsibilities of ESOP trustees.
Dave graduated from Harvard Law School in 1974, and he joined McBride, Baker & Coles, a mid-sized Chicago law firm. Dave began his career as a corporate tax lawyer, and he also became involved in estate planning for business owners. In the late 1970s, Dave’s law firm asked him to add ERISA to his areas of practice. During the 1980s, by which time Dave had become a partner at McBride Baker, Dave saw that new provisions in the tax laws and in ERISA presented opportunities for successful private business owners to use ESOPs as a technique for transferring stock of their private businesses on a tax-advantaged basis. Over the years, Dave came to work for clients all around the country. He decided that it would be advantageous to combine his practice with that of a large national firm, with numerous offices around the country. At the same time, Dave was discussing a combination of ESOP practices with John Kober, and in 2004 they combined their practices and joined the national law firm of Morgan Lewis, which now is one of the largest law firms in the world. Dave and John built one of the largest ESOP practices in the country at Morgan Lewis, which remains a leading ESOP law firm.