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.

Matthew J. Middleton, Esq.

Immediate Past Chair

Matthew J. Middleton is Of Counsel to the law firm of Sweeny, Johnson & Scates, LLP a full service entertainment law firm in midtown Manhattan. Mr. Middleton has over 15 years of experience as a transactional attorney in the area of entertainment law. Applying competency, integrity, and professionalism as his mantra for successful client representation, Mr. Middleton’s entertainment practice focuses on providing counsel to recording artists, television and music producers, filmmakers, songwriters, managers, executives, independent labels & production
companies, music publishers, authors, athletes and actors with respect to all facets of the entertainment industry. Specifically, Mr. Middleton specializes in complex recording deal negotiations, reality television projects, domestic and international touring, music publishing, branding & corporate sponsorship, intellectual property licensing, and motion picture project development.

Prior to joining Sweeney, Johnson & Scates, Mr. Middleton was a Partner at the law firm of Simon, Eisenberg & Baum, LLP and the head of the firm’s Entertainment Law Practice Group. During his career Matt Middleton has represented various reality TV stars as well as Grammy award-winning recording artists, songwriters and producers, including but not limited to Kanye West, Chris Brown, Ne-Yo, Fabolous, Mario, DMX, Jagged Edge and the estate of the Notorious B.I.G. where he brokered the deal for the hit movie “Notorious” about the life of Christopher Wallace.

Middleton began his legal career as an Assistant District Attorney with the New York County District Attorney’s office. As a prosecutor in the trial division, Middleton tried felony cases in New York State Supreme Court. In 1997 Mr. Middleton shifted his complete focus to entertainment law full time and started his own boutique entertainment law firm where he served as the managing partner.

Mr. Middleton attended Howard University School of Law on a full merit scholarship after graduating from Howard Undergrad cum laude in 1991 with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, and a minor in Business Administration.

Mr. Middleton is a member of the New York State Bar where he is admitted to practice, and presently serves as Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Black Entertainment & Sports Lawyers Association (BESLA) and is the Advisory Chair of the Metropolitan Black Bar Association’s Entertainment Law Section. He is a member of the National Association of Recording Arts & Sciences (NARAS) where he has participated as an Executive Committee Member of its Entertainment Law Initiative (ELI).

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