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Brooklyn Law School student organization honors top women in sports and entertainment law

November 16, 2016 By Rob Abruzzese Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Brooklyn Law School’s Brooklyn Entertainment and Sports Law Society (BESLS) hosted a reception for women at the top of the entertainment, sports and fashion industries where it honored 12 on Tuesday. Pictured from left is BESLS co-president Lauren Rayner Davis, keynote speaker Marla Allard and co-president Vaughn Bobb-Willis. Eagle photos by Rob Abruzzese

The Brooklyn Entertainment and Sports Law Society (BESLS), a student organization at Brooklyn Law School, honored some of the top women in the sports, entertainment and fashion law industries during a reception at the school in Downtown Brooklyn on Tuesday.

“The talent in this room is simply overwhelming,” BESLS co-president Lauren Rayner Davis said as she greeted the packed Sobotnick Center. “I’m standing here tonight and I tell you with confidence that the women in this room are the change-makers that we need and they are the forefront of unstoppable progress in this industry.”

Twelve women were honored in total, including Kelly Wick, Barbara Pereda and Polina Katsnelson as In-House Counsel of the Year, Meredith Wolff as Innovator of the Year, Bea Koramblyum as Mentor of the Year, Courtney Hargrove as Entertainment & Sports Law Student of the Year, Jodi Balsam as Professor of the Year, Catherine Addo was given the Rising Star Award, Nneka Norville, Faith Newman and Barbara Kolson were given the Distinguished Achievement Award and Janine Small was given the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Marla Allard, who in addition to being married to BLS Dean Nicholas Allard is the host of the show “Relatively Speaking,” which appears on a local cable channel in Washington D.C., was the keynote speaker for the event.

“In 2015, only 17.4 percent of law firm equity partners are women,” said Allard, who was quoting a statistic from the National Association of Law Placement. “Also, the American Bar Association reported that the typical female equity partner in the 200 largest law firms earns 80 percent of the compensation of their male counterparts, so there is still some ways to go. And the entertainment world, where men are hired to direct movies 90 percent of the time, is even more challenging than the legal world.”

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Member of BESLS introduced the honorees one by one, explaining why each of them was picked for the award they received. Afterward each honoree gave a brief speech. The theme of the speeches was similar: The honorees encouraged the students in the room not to worry about their gender and to simply go after the job they want.

“I just want to take a minute to encourage the women in this room who are interested in working in sports to go for it,” said Meredith Wolff, who formerly worked for the NHL and currently works at Seek To Be LLC. “Very early in my career when I told someone who was advising me that I was interested in sports and sports philanthropy, I was told to come up with another plan. I didn’t.”

“In very different ways this industry and professional industries can be inadvertently silencing for women,” said Catherine Addo. “You’re either trying to keep your composure and your stature, or in the music industry you are trying to keep your street cred or be cool. Put that out of your mind. If something is bullshit, call bullshit. I’ve never regretted that.”

Following the awards ceremony, there was a roundtable meet-and-greet held where the students got a chance to speak with the honorees in a more intimate setting.

“We’re here tonight to celebrate professionals, lawyers, mothers, sisters, daughters, artists, professors, mentors — women who have lived their lives shattering the glass ceiling over and over again, showing little girls like my sisters that they can accomplish whatever they dedicate themselves to accomplishing,” said co-president Vaughn Bobb-Willis.

From left: Meredith Wolff, Vaughn Bobb-Willis, Bea Koramblyum, Courtney Hargrove, Catherine Addo, Lauren Rayner Davis, Barbara Kolsun, Janine Small, Nicole Guitelman, Jodi Balsam, Dean Nicholas Allard, Faith Newman, Marla Allard, Nneka Norville, Barbara Pereda, Kelly Wick and Polina Katsnelson.

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