William Rakes is Senior Counsel with Gentry Locke. During Bill’s more than 50 years of service at Gentry Locke, with more than 20 serving as Managing Partner, the firm grew from nine attorneys to its current scale of more than fifty-five. Bill’s practice largely 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 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.
  • University of Virginia, B.A.


  • 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 (2004-)
  • 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)
  • Board of Directors, Colonial-American Bankshares Corporation (1980-1991)
  • Chair, Virginia State Bar Disciplinary Board (1983-84)
  • Chair, Sixth District Disciplinary Committee, Virginia State Bar (1974-75)
  • Fellow, American College of Trial Lawyers
  • Fellow, American Academy of Appellate Lawyers
  • 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 by The Best Lawyers in America® as  “Roanoke Lawyer of the Year – Banking” (2009, 2013),  “Roanoke Lawyer of the Year – Appellate” (2014), and  “Roanoke Lawyer of the Year – Bet-the-Company Litigation” (2014); repeatedly listed with The Best Lawyers in America in Antitrust Law (2003-2024), Appellate Practice (2011-2024), Banking and Finance Law (2011-2024), Bet-the-Company Litigation (2010-2024), Commercial Litigation (1993-2024), Corporate Law (2006-2024), Financial Services Regulation Law (2011-2024), Banking & Finance Litigation (2011-2024), and Mergers & Acquisitions Litigation (2011-2024), 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 (2007-2021), 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)
  • Inducted into the Virginia Lawyers Weekly “Hall of Fame” – Class of 2020
  • Designated as a Fellow of the Virginia Law Foundation (1993)
  • Lawyer of the Year 2014 - Appellate Practice
  • Lawyer of the Year 2014 - Bet-the-Company Litigation

Published Work

  • Twenty Years of Change, But Many Issues Remain, Virginia Lawyer, October 2012
  • 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
  • Family Feuds, Shareholder Oppression and Judicial Remedies, Virginia State Bar (2014)
  • Many articles on the legal profession and professionalism published mostly in Virginia Lawyer
William Rakes Virginia attorney