William P. Gelnaw, Jr.

Co-Managing Partner

Bill Gelnaw, Choate’s co-managing partner since 1996, helps clients to achieve the greatest possible value in their M&A deals and other strategic transactions. Bill has led teams of attorneys across a range of industries, including financial services, healthcare, media, communications, timeshare, professional services, and consumer products. Throughout his career, Bill has advised public and private companies, and private equity funds and their portfolio companies in complex transactions. He also counsels founder- and family-owned companies through all matters of corporate governance and strategy, including investments and liquidity events.

Bill was elected to the role of co-managing partner in 1996, and has been reelected to six consecutive terms. During his tenure, Choate has experienced significant growth.

Bill is a member of Choate’s Executive Committee.


  • Best Lawyers in America (2007-2024)

  • Best Lawyers in America: “Lawyer of the Year” for Business Organizations (including LLCs and Partnerships) (2023)

  • The Legal 500 for mergers & acquisitions (2008-2022)
  • Massachusetts Super Lawyers

Representative Engagements

  • Acquisition and later sale of business media company.
  • Acquisition and later sale of healthcare services company.
  • Acquisition of mutual fund complex.
  • Sale of financial services company.
  • Sale of mutual fund complex.
  • Special board committees in three going private transactions.
  • Sale of water filtration business unit of large privately-owned company. 
  • Large joint venture in consumer products industry.

Publications and Presentations

  • “Pre and Post Sale Planning for You, Your Company and Your Family,” panelist, Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s Conference for Business Owners: M&A Solutions for Privately Held Companies, Boston.
  • “Going Private Deals Involving a Controlling Stockholder,” co-author, Securities Law360.

Professional and Community Involvement

  • Member,  The Boys and Girls Clubs of Boston Board of Directors
  • Member, Commercial Club of Boston
  • Member, Choate’s Executive Committee
  • Member of the Boston Bar Association
  • Former Member Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors
  • Former Member, Massachusetts High Technology Council Board of Directors

Education & Credentials

Boston College Law School
JD, 1984, magna cum laude
Boston College
BS, 1981, summa cum laude



Bill's Insights