W. Bryan Rakes

Rakes, W. Bryan

Bryan Rakes is co-chair of Venable's Baltimore Corporate Practice Group and is also co-chair of the firm’s national M&A Practice. Bryan is a pragmatic and experienced business attorney who brings a collaborative approach to corporate matters. He assists clients with complex mergers and acquisitions, private equity investments, structured financings, and other commercial financing transactions. Bryan represents the business interests of private equity groups, senior and subordinated lenders, emerging growth organizations, and middle-market companies in a wide variety of transactions and negotiations. He often acts as outside general counsel to businesses throughout the United States.



Representative Matters

  • As lead counsel, represented a private equity fund in its acquisition of  four restaurant franchise groups, consisting of 190 restaurants
  • As lead counsel, represented the U.S. subsidiary of a Canadian company in its acquisitions of a global business-to-business digital music services and rights platform, and an interactive streaming mechanical royalty collection agency
  • Represented the portfolio company of a private equity group in its purchase of a division from General Electric Corporation and related debt financings
  • As lead counsel, represented a private equity firm in the acquisition of a group of clothing stores, related third-party debt financing, and rollover equity investment by founders
  • As lead counsel, represented a private equity fund in its sale of a franchise restaurant group for $29 million
  • As lead counsel, represented a six-bank syndicate in a multi-currency $130 million loan facility for a private equity-backed manufacturing company secured by domestic and international assets
  • As lead counsel, represented a five-bank syndicate in a multi-currency, $325 million loan facility for a leading consumer products company secured by domestic and international assets
  • As lead counsel, represented a bank in a $50 million hybrid cash flow–real estate loan that was accompanied by an interest rate hedge/swap agreement and secured with real property
  • As lead counsel, represented several banks in loans totaling hundreds of millions of dollars to private equity-backed companies, to partially fund acquisitions
  • Represented the borrower in a music publishing transaction, including a $330 million equity investment, and senior and subordinated financings of $70 million in the context of a workout
  • Represented an IT solutions company in the $200 million sale of its software portfolio to a private equity firm
  • Represented a Hong Kong-based pet products company in a management buyout transaction and related debt financings involving Hong Kong, the United States, Canada, and the Cayman Islands
  • As lead counsel, represented a tech staffing company in a $60 million purchase of an international staffing business with operations in four countries
  • Represented a digital media company in its acquisition of a division of a public company in the higher education industry
  • As lead counsel, represented an anatomic pathology laboratory in its acquisition of a laboratory providing urologic services, and its affiliated entity
  • As lead counsel, represented a technology company in its acquisition of an email infrastructure and data center technology company, and related debt financings
  • Represented a surgical monitoring business in its sale to a group of investors, led by a national private equity firm for an aggregate value of more than $40 million, including earn-out and retention of a 25% equity stake
  • As lead counsel, represented both lead investors and companies in numerous investment rounds




  • J.D. magna cum laude Syracuse University College of Law 2001
    • Executive editor and associate editor, Syracuse Law Review, 1999-2001
    • Chancellor's scholar
  • B.A. Transylvania University 1996
    • Dean's scholar

Bar Admissions

  • Maryland

Professional Memberships and Activities

  • Member, Maryland State Bar Association
  • Member, American Bar Association, Section of Business Law
  • Member and former board member, Association for Corporate Growth, Maryland Chapter
  • Teaches entrepreneurship and management programs at The Johns Hopkins University
  • Graduate, Greater Baltimore Committee's LEADERship Program


  • The Best Lawyers in America, 2018 – 2021
  • Legal 500, Leading Lawyer, M&A: Middle-Market
  • Super Lawyers, Rising Star, Maryland



  • Member, advisory committee, Civic Works
  • Member, board of directors, Everyman Theatre