*The Black Entertainment and Sports Lawyers Association (BESLA) today announced it would honor two industry stalwarts at its 32nd annual conference, which will be held October 24- 28, 2012 at the Atlantis Hotel, Paradise Island, Bahamas.
BESLA will present its Lifetime Achievement award to Judy Smith, the crisis manager expert whose A-list clientele and trailblazing counsel inspired the new ABC hit series “Scandal.” Known in her business as a “fixer,” for the past 20 years Ms. Smith has been the go-to person called upon by politicians, celebrities and Fortune 500 companies caught in media firestorms. The founder of Smith and Company, Ms. Smith is an attorney who was the first black female Special Assistant to the President and Deputy White House Press Secretary for President George H, W. Bush. Smith will also participate in a “Representing Clients in a time of Crisis” seminar during the conference.
BESLA’s Hall of Fame Award recipient this year will be the late Keven Davis, whose legal and business guidance launched the dazzling careers of world tennis champions Venus and Serena Williams, who both won gold medals – again — at the recent 2012 Olympic Games in London. Mr. Davis was a frequent BESLA panel participant and a much-sought after mentor by young attorneys.
“The BESLA family is so proud to recognize these two trailblazers who epitomize our values and inspire our efforts to show that service and success can and do share the same spotlight,” said BESLA President Matthew Middleton. Recent BESLA honorees include the late broadcasting pioneer, civil rights leader, and attorney Percy E. Sutton, and the courageous track tandem of Dr. Tommie Smith, the gold medal winner, and Dr. John Carlos, the bronze medal winner of the 200 meter race at the 1968 Olympics Games in Mexico City. Legendary music executive and entrepreneur Clarence Avant has also been honored. This year his daughter, retired U.S. ambassador to the Bahamas Nicole Avant, will receive BESLA’s Exceptional Recognition Award.
BESLA’s conference theme is “Symmetry & Global Branding: Balancing Strategic Partnerships for Breakthrough Success.” Over the past three decades, BESLA‘s annual conference has become its signature industry event, offering top entertainment and sports professionals and members of the legal community the opportunity to “reset” in a thoughtful, relaxing environment while attending seminars featuring front-runners in those respective fields. In addition to its timely panel discussions, the conference has gained stature for serving as a high-yield networking venue for industry game- changers.
“True to our legacy and vision of ‘on-the-cusp’ programming, BESLA remains the go-to legal brain trust for keeping our members ahead of the curve on best practices, information technology and client management tools,” Middleton said. “We look forward to another successful conference.”
BESLA is the nation’s predominant network for the professional development and advancement for attorneys of color in entertainment and sports. Founded in 1980, the organization supports a more diversified and informed network of entertainment and sports industry professionals. BESLA has awarded over $250,000 in scholarships to aspiring law students.
For additional information about BESLA or the 2012 conference program in the Bahamas, visit www.besla.org.
Ronda R. Kirk