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William Rakes is a senior Partner with Gentry Locke. Bill served for more than 20 years as Managing Partner, during which the firm grew from nine attorneys to its current scale of more than 50. He presently chairs the firm’s Banking and Finance Group. His practice consists of advising banks and other financial entities on governance, regulatory and securities matters, and handling commercial litigation matters for a wide range of businesses. Bill is a Fellow in The American College of Trial Lawyers and in The American Academy of Appellate Lawyers. He has served as President of the Virginia State Bar and on the Board of Governors of the American Bar Association. Bill is consistently noted as a Virginia Super Lawyer in Business Litigation and is recognized among the Best Lawyers in America in several categories, including Antitrust Law, Appellate Practice, Banking and Finance Law, Bet-the-Company Litigation, Commercial Litigation, Corporate Law, Financial Services Regulation Law, Litigation – Banking and Finance, and Litigation – Mergers and Acquisitions.

  • Trials, and scores of appeals
  • Practice areas noted for by by Best Lawyers in America
  • Years at this firm
  • Children and grandchildren
  • Had you not chosen law, what career might you have pursued?

    I considered nothing but law. I was on the high school debate team; I liked speaking; I watched Perry Mason; and the man I most admired in our community (aside from my father) was a lawyer. All of this had a great influence on my career choice.

  • You take great pride in the work you do. Tell us what this firm means to you.

    We are a law firm made up of real people with a strong diversity of services. One thing we all focus on is being a great law firm that puts our clients at the forefront. I take enormous pride and pleasure in the quality of the lawyers and the reputation the firm has earned.

  • What advice do you share with new lawyers joining the firm?

    There is no substitute for thorough preparation.

  • What is the most important step in your morning routine that you try to never skip?

    I may skip a lot of things, including breakfast on occasion, but I never skip putting on a necktie.


  • University of Virginia School of Law, LL. B. 1963
  • University of Virginia, B.A. 1960


  • Represented world’s largest computer manufacturer in patent infringement litigation involving its software effecting international sales over the Internet
  • Represented international chemical manufacturer on product related litigation
  • Represented Fortune 500 manufacturing company in defense of securities fraud class action litigation
  • Represented contract coal mining company against large coal processor and mineral rights owner in contract and fraud litigation
  • Represented corporation in shareholder dispute over sale of company which resulted in Supreme Court of Virginia rejecting the Delaware “Revlon Rule”
  • Represented officers and directors of failed life insurance company on their claim for indemnification which was upheld by Supreme Court of Virginia
  • Represented approximately 100 royalty holders in litigation against coal bed methane gas operating company resulting in recovery of over 13 million dollars – largest jury verdict on record in U.S. District Court for Western District of Virginia
  • Represented seller of automobile dealership in litigation brought by prospective purchaser with favorable result on appeal
  • Represented hospital in suit against county on tax status with favorable result on appeal
  • Defended lawyer who was sole beneficiary of a client’s estate in litigation brought by a church which claimed to be the beneficiary under a prior will
  • Defended executor and primary beneficiary in estate litigation. Successful appeal to Virginia Supreme Court
  • Trial and appeal of case involving explosion wherein Virginia Supreme Court rejected the offensive use of collateral estoppel
  • On-going representation of banks and other companies on business, governance and regulatory issues


  • Chair, Section of Legal Education and Admission to the Bar, American Bar Association (2006-07)
  • Board of Governors, American Bar Association (1998-2001)
  • Co-founder and President, Ted Dalton American Inn of Court (2005-07)
  • Co-founder, Chairman of the Board and General Counsel, Hometown Bank
  • Chair, American National Lawyers Insurance Reciprocal (ANLIR) (1996-98); Board (1993-2001)
  • President, Virginia State Bar (1992-93)
  • President, Roanoke Bar Association (1977-78)
  • Chair, Legal Education Conclave Planning Committee, Virginia State Bar (1991-92)
  • Chair, Special Committee to Study Lawyer Financial Responsibility, Virginia State Bar (1986-88)
  • Chair, Virginia State Bar Disciplinary Board (1983-94)
  • Chair, Sixth District Disciplinary Committee, Virginia State Bar (1974-75)
  • Fellow, American College of Trial Lawyers
  • Fellow, American Academy of Appellate Lawyers
  • Fellow, Scribes (Honorary Society for Writers on Legal Subjects)
  • Fellow, American Bar Foundation
  • Fellow, Virginia Law Foundation


  • Inaugural recipient of the William R. Rakes Leadership in Education Award established by The Section on the Education of Lawyers in Virginia of the Virginia State Bar (2012)
  • Listed as a Local Litigation Star by Benchmark Appellate (2012-2013)
  • Recipient, Frank W. “Bo” Rogers, Jr. Lifetime Achievement Award, Roanoke Bar Association (2010)
  • Named “Best Lawyers Roanoke Lawyer of the Year – Banking” (2009, 2013),  “Best Lawyers Roanoke Lawyer of the Year – Appellate” (2014), and  “Best Lawyers Roanoke Lawyer of the Year – Bet-the-Company Litigation” (2014)
  • Repeatedly named one of The Best Lawyers in America® in Antitrust Law (2003-2016), Appellate Practice (2011-2016), Banking and Finance Law (2011-2016), Bet-the-Company Litigation (2010-2016), Commercial Litigation (1993-2016), Corporate Law (2006-2016), Financial Services Regulation Law (2011-2016), Banking & Finance Litigation (2011-2016), and Mergers & Acquisitions Litigation (2011-2016), also listed in Best Lawyers in America – Business Edition (2016)
  • Named a Top Rated Lawyer for Commercial Litigation, Business & Commercial, Appellate law by American Lawyer Media (2013)
  • Designated one of the “FrontList 2008 Best of Business” by Valley Business Front magazine
  • Named “Leader in the Law” by Virginia Lawyers Weekly (2007)
  • Named to Virginia Super Lawyers in the area of Business Litigation (2007-2016), included in Super Lawyers Corporate Counsel edition (2010) and Super Lawyers Business Edition US in the area of Business Litigation (2012-2014)
  • Designated as one of the Legal Elite in the Civil Litigation field by Virginia Business magazine
  • Named a “Legal Eagle” for Antitrust Law, Bet-the-Company Litigation, Commercial Litigation, Corporate Law, Litigation – Banking & Finance, and Litigation – Mergers & Acquisitions by Virginia Living magazine (2012)
  • Rated AV/Preeminent

Published Work

  • The Care and Feeding of Directors in Uncertain Times: What Directors Expect from their Bank Management; Virginia Association of Community Banks, September 2008
  • Law Schools Must Act on Commitment to Diversity; ABA Student Lawyer, May 2007
  • Multidisciplinary Practice: A Paradigm Shift from Client Protection; Virginia Lawyer, April 2002
  • Mediation of the Business Divorce; Virginia Lawyer, July 1997
  • Conclaves on Legal Education: Catalyst for Improvement of the Profession; 72 Notre Dame Law Review 1119, 1997
  • Ethics and Professionalism: Starting in the Law Schools; Virginia Lawyer, October 1996
The results of client matters depend on a variety of factors unique to each matter. Past successes do not predict or guarantee future successes.