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William J. Bernat, Nutter McClennen & Fish LLP Photo

William J. Bernat

Co-Chair, Emerging Companies Group; Co-Lead, Food and Beverage Group / Boston

Overview

William J. Bernat is a partner in Nutter’s Corporate and Transactions Department. He co-chairs the firm's Emerging Companies Group and co-leads the firm's Food and Beverage group. Clients routinely rely on Will to help them navigate through private equity, venture capital, and angel financing transactions, as well as mergers and acquisitions, commercial lending transactions, and other corporate governance issues.

Tech, life sciences, consumer/retail, and food & beverage companies look to Will for assistance throughout their entire lifespans, from initial planning and formation to operations and exit, including formulating the strategy to realize their business goals and to build the foundation necessary to secure third party investment. Investors in emerging growth companies seek Will’s counsel when structuring their financing transactions. Will has counseled clients in angel and venture backed financings representing an aggregate of over $100 million in investment in local early stage companies.

Banks and other financial institutions rely on Will’s expertise when structuring asset-based and other commercial lending transactions with both emerging and entrepreneurial companies and more mature borrowers. Will has guided both lenders and borrowers through transactions representing aggregate commitments in excess of $1 billion.

Notable Experience and Client Impact

General Corporate/Emerging Companies

  • Advised The Living Apothecary, a probiotic water kefir maker based in Oakland, California, in a $1.4 million financing round led by L.A. Libations and Venice Brands. 
  • Advised Demers Food Group Inc. in a round of financing led by Arbel Growth Partners LP, the private equity firm led by Carl Lee, the former president and CEO of Snyder’s Lance, Inc.
  • Advised Zagster, Inc., the nation’s leading provider of modern, flexible bike share services, in securing $15 million in growth capital.
  • Advised Wandering Bear Coffee, a cold brew coffee maker, in its recently completed $8 million Series A equity round of financing. 
  • Advised Zagster, Inc., the leading provider of private and public-private bike sharing systems, when it raised $10 million in a Series B round of funding led by Edison Partners, a leading growth equity capital firm.
  • Served as transactional and corporate counsel to an artwork rental and rotation startup on multiple financing rounds
  • Acted as corporate counsel for a leading sunglasses producer in the United States, including store-within-store partnerships 
  • Played a key role in expanding the original fantasy sports-game retailer beyond board-game enthusiasts to online and mobile users through joint ventures and co-promotion arrangements with sports media outlets and developers 
  • Served as corporate and fundraising counsel to an all-natural snack food company, protein-based beer company, and organic fitness beverage company
  • Advised a nationally recognized full-service mobile app development company in multiple transactions

M&A

  • Advised on $40 million joint venture between a photoelectric sheeting company and a commercial solar panel producer
  • Represented a co-working space provider, including multiple partnerships and joint ventures with a national retailer
  • Advised on the sale of a privately-held wide format digital printing company to a strategic buyer
  • Provided counsel on the acquisition of a medical device coating and surface treatment business by a private biomedical company for a combination of cash and equity
  • Advised on the acquisition of a UK-based asset management risk model business by a privately-held strategic buyer
  • Advised on the sale of a venture-backed digital photography asset management software company to a privately-held strategic buyer
  • Provided counsel on the sale of a dietary supplement and pharmaceuticals business to a privately-held strategic buyer
  • Advised on the sale of an educational research, marketing, and branding business to a publicly traded media and marketing company
  • Advised on the acquisition of Golf Digest-rated “Best Places to Play” golf course on Cape Cod by private buyers

Commercial Finance

  • Represented syndicate of five of the largest U.S. banks in connection with $500+ million loan facility to diversified real estate investment/CMBS, multi-family mortgage and LIHTC syndication company

A leader in Boston’s innovation and startup community, Will serves on the partners’ committee of, and is a frequent lecturer and panel member at, The Capital Network, a nonprofit organization that brings together Boston’s largest active community of investors and startup experts to provide practical, hands-on education and personalized mentoring to young entrepreneurs to help them navigate the fundraising process. In addition, Will serves as a mentor and holds regular office hours at MassChallenge, a startup accelerator, and Golden Seeds, one of the nation’s most active early-stage investment firms.

Will frequently serves as a lecturer and guest speaker at the MIT Enterprise Forum, the Babson Entrepreneurship Forum, and Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education, where he presents on topics such as the fundamentals of term sheets and capitalization tables, and general corporate finance and formation issues.

Experience

Experience

  • The Living Apothecary

    Nutter advised The Living Apothecary, a probiotic water kefir maker based in Oakland, California, in a $1.4 million financing round led by L.A. Libations and Venice Brands. 

  • Zagster, Inc.

    Nutter advised Zagster, Inc., the nation’s leading provider of modern, flexible bike share services, in securing $15 million in growth capital.

  • Kombrewcha

    Nutter represented Kombrewcha (the first alcoholic Kombucha) in its sale to a strategic acquirer.

  • Wandering Bear Coffee

    Nutter advised Wandering Bear Coffee, a cold brew coffee maker, in its recently completed $8 million Series A equity round of financing.

  • Zagster, Inc.

    Nutter advised Zagster, Inc., the leading provider of private and public-private bike sharing systems, when it raised $10 million in a Series B round of funding led by Edison Partners, a leading growth equity capital firm.

News & Insights

Speaking Engagements

Honors

Honors

  • Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly, Excellence in the Law Awards, Up & Coming Lawyer, 2016
  • Massachusetts Super Lawyers Rising Stars, 2010, 2016-2018

Education & Admissions

Education

Suffolk University Law School, J.D., magna cum laude

Providence College, B.A., summa cum laude

Admissions

  • Massachusetts

In the Community

Will serves on the partners’ committee of, and is a frequent lecturer and panel member at The Capital Network, a nonprofit organization that brings together investors and startup experts to provide hands-on education and personalized mentoring to young entrepreneurs to help them navigate the fundraising process.

Noteworthy

Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly, Excellence in the Law Awards, Up & Coming Lawyer, 2016

Massachusetts Super Lawyers Rising Stars 2010, 2016 - 2018

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