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BESLA’s Board consists of legal professionals who work in and/or have an interest in sports, entertainment, and media.  The regionally diverse Board members are engaged in their local communities and work to develop partnerships between BESLA, industry, and the legal education community.  The Board conducts its work through committees including, but not limited to: Annual Conference, Programs, Scholarships, and Sponsorships/Fundraising.

Bernie Lawrence-Watkins, Esq.

Bernie Lawrence-Watkins is a seasoned transactional attorney and principal in the law firm of B. Lawrence Watkins & Associates, PC, concentrating in the areas of Entertainment, Copyrights and Trademark, New Media and Corporate Law. Throughout her career, she was able to establish a niche practice representing multi-platinum selling music producers who have created hits for notable hip-hop artists such as Lil’ Wayne, T.I., Nicki Minaj, Ludacris, 50 Cent, and P. Diddy, and R&B artists such as Usher, Justin Bieber, Chris Brown, Beyoncé, and Rihanna, to name a few. Some of her clients include music industry executives, music production companies, independent record labels, artists, managers, songwriters, film and television production companies, screenplay writers, video game developers, and clothing designers.

In 2007, Mrs. Lawrence-Watkins received the Metro Atlanta Community Champion Award from MADD and was honored by Rolling Out Magazine as one of Atlanta’s 25 Most Influential Women. In 2009, the Supreme Court of Georgia appointed her as a Mentor in the Transition into Law Practice Program to assist newly admitted lawyers to the State Bar of Georgia. She also received The Token of Appreciation Award from Music in the Metro, a non-profit organization located in Des Moines, Iowa for bringing youth and the music industry together. In 2012, she was presented the Entertainment Lawyer of the Year Award by Women of Wealth Magazine and was honored by ASCAP as one of The Women Behind the Music.

Mrs. Lawrence-Watkins’ past and present Board affiliations include the United Way- African American Partnership, Jack and Jill of America-Atlanta Chapter, Smyrna Basketball Association, Inc. and the Black Entertainment Sports Lawyers Association (BESLA). She has also served as a local advisory Board member for Branch, Banking and Trust (BB&T), the fourth largest bank in the southeastern region. She is a current member of the Recording Academy, Georgia Association of Black Women Attorneys (GABWA), Black Women in Entertainment Law (BWEL), and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.

Mrs. Lawrence-Watkins received her undergraduate degree in Business Administration from Howard University and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Baltimore, School of Law. She is married with two sons.

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