Franklin K. Jelsma

Managing Partner


Franklin K. Jelsma is the Firm’s Managing Partner, and a member of Wyatt’s Corporate & Securities Service Team.  Mr. Jelsma concentrates his practice in the areas of general business law, mergers and acquisitions, government relations and corporate governance.

Show More


  • Ongoing representation of a diverse holding company in numerous M&A transactions over last 25 years, including: acquisition and subsequent sale of regional stock brokerage firm, purchase of fashion eyeglass company, acquisition of juice concentrate business, purchase of fencing and supply business, acquisition of insurance agencies, formation of a health maintenance organization, acquisition of block manufacturing businesses, and acquisition of road paving business.
  • Ongoing representation of multiple private non-profit foundations supporting public universities, including work with management and board on corporate governance, MOUs with universities, real estate transactions and strategic planning.
  • Representation of seller in sale of multi-state c-store business.
  • Representation of global corporations in structuring, negotiating and documenting “corporate venture capital” investments in early stage companies.
  • Representation of numerous entrepreneurs and families in the sale of privately held businesses to strategic buyers and private equity backed buyers. These businesses include high tech data management, liquor stores, smart cards, document shredding, radio stations, home appraisers, community newspapers, auto parts suppliers, industrial cleaning, truck rental, equine pharmaceutical, chemical supply, and restaurant concepts.
  • Work with family office primarily focused on real estate investments, also assist with family legal issues.
  • Representation of financial buyer in acquisition of tobacco business and, years later, sale of same to London based strategic buyer for $1.9 billion.
  • Representation of health care entrepreneur in multiple transactions, including acquisition of laboratory business and acquisitions/investments involving health insurance related businesses.
  • Representation of family owned safety business, including sale of distribution business to strategic buyer.
  • Ongoing representation of large and diversified family owned manufacturing and service business in day to day corporate matters as well as numerous acquisitions and sales of business units, including aluminum manufacturing and transportation.
  • Representation of entrepreneur in sale of high end skincare business to global conglomerate.
  • Ongoing representation of venture capital fund focused on early-stage and growth investments. As part of this representation, negotiated, documented and closed dozens of preferred stock financings, including initial Series A rounds, follow-on financings, down-round financings and liquidity events. This work includes advice on corporate governance and conflict of interest issues, compliance with securities laws, crafting management incentive plans and employment agreements. Also representation of portfolio companies, advising on equity and debt financings, strategic partnerships, corporate governance issues, customer contracts and day-to-day corporate matters.
  • Representation of construction supply business in day to day business operations, financings and workout of senior and mezzanine debt financing.
  • Representation of entrepreneurs in implementation of real estate diversification strategy.
  • Representation of buyer of high tech assets out of bankruptcy and subsequent assistance with building of bio tech business, formation of strategic partnerships, governmental contracts, and intellectual property licensing agreements.
  • Representation of entrepreneurs in acquisition and funding, and subsequent growth and sale, of e-learning business.


J.D., University of Kentucky, 1991

  • Associate Editor for the Kentucky Law Journal
  • Order of the Coif

A.B., Princeton University, 1986




  • Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business. In 2013 and 2014, Mr. Jelsma was cited as a “Leading Individual” in Corporate/M&A.  The publication noted in 2010 that he is “highly acclaimed for his expertise in venture capital transactions.”
  • Highest professional ratings by Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory
  • Woodward/White’s The Best Lawyers in America® in the areas of Corporate Law, Mergers & Acquisitions Law and Securities/Capital Markets Law, 2007-present, Business Organizations (including LLCs and Partnerships), 2017-present and Commercial Financial Law, 2018-present
  • Best Lawyers® 2017, 2021, 2024 Louisville Business Organizations (including LLCs and Partnerships) “Lawyer of the Year”
  • Best Lawyers® 2016 Louisville Securities / Capital Markets Law “Lawyer of the Year”
  • Best Lawyers® 2013, 2022 Louisville Mergers & Acquisitions Law “Lawyer of the Year”
  • Recognized by his peers as one of the Kentucky Super Lawyers®, 2009- 2024
  • Recognized as one of the “Top Lawyers” in the areas of Business-Commercial Law, Corporate Law, Mergers & Acquisition Law and Venture Capital Law by Louisville Magazine, March 2014
  • Honored as a leader in the Louisville business community and as Alumni of the Year for his high school, Ballard High, 2000
  • Selected as one of “Kentucky’s Leaders for the New Century,” 1999


Office of the Governor, Commonwealth of Kentucky, serving in several capacities more than four years, including Chief of Staff


  • Louisville and Kentucky Bar Associations
  • Leadership Louisville, 2002
  • Past Chair, Business Law Section, Louisville Bar Association


  • Member and Chair of the Board of Directors of the Jefferson County Public Education Foundation (a charity supporting leadership and equity within the Jefferson County public schools)
  • Member of the Board of Directors of the Prichard Committee (a statewide education advocacy organization)
  • Member of the Board of Directors of Greater Louisville Inc.
  • Member of the Board of Directors of TreesLouisville Inc.
  • Member of the Rotary Club of Louisville


Quoted in “Legal Practice Makes Profits in 2015,” The Lane Report (February 2016)