W. Bryan Rakes

Rakes, W. Bryan

Bryan Rakes serves on Venable's Management Committee as a co-chair of the firm’s Business Division. Bryan is also a co-chair of the firm's Mergers and Acquisitions Practice. He 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, licensing transactions, joint ventures, and financing transactions. Bryan represents the business interests of private equity groups, family offices, publicly traded companies, private businesses, and emerging growth companies. He often acts as outside general counsel to businesses throughout the United States.


Representative Matters

  • Represented a private equity fund and its portfolio company in several acquisitions of Nothing Bundt Cakes franchise bakeries
  • Served as lead counsel to a private equity fund in multiple acquisitions and related debt financings, resulting in its ownership of four restaurant brands with over 350 locations and 70 parcels of real estate
  • Served as lead counsel to a large family office in the acquisition and financing of 14 affiliated businesses and 39 associated owned and leased real estate properties
  • Served as lead counsel to Wayside Technology Group, Inc. (NASDAQ; WSTG) and its U.S., UK, and Canadian subsidiaries in their acquisition and financing of CDF Group and the American and Canadian affiliates of Interwork Technologies Inc.
  • Served as lead counsel to 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
  • Served as lead counsel to the portfolio company of a private equity group in its purchase of a division from General Electric Corporation and related debt financings
  • Served as lead counsel to a private equity firm in the acquisition of a group of clothing stores, related debt financing, and rollover equity investment by founders
  • 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
  • Represented a digital media company in its acquisition of a division of a public company in the higher education industry
  • Served as lead counsel to an anatomic pathology laboratory in its acquisition of a laboratory providing urologic services, and its affiliated entity
  • Served as lead counsel to a technology company in its acquisition of an email infrastructure and data center technology company, and related debt financings
  • Served as lead counsel to 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


  • Chambers USA, Corporate/M&AMaryland, 2021 – 2024
  • The Daily RecordLeadership in Law, 2022
  • The Best Lawyers in America, 2018 – 2024
    • Lawyer of the Year, 2024
  • Legal 500
    • M&A/corporate and commercial - M&A: middle-market (sub-$500m), 2022 – 2023
  • Super Lawyers, Rising Star, Maryland



  • Member, Advisory Committee, Civic Works
  • President, Board of Directors, Everyman Theatre