At what point did you decide that you wanted to be in the legal profession?
Actually, it was around age three or four. I was really young and my older sister had a chart of careers with salaries hanging on her wall. I remember the first top profession was a doctor, but I was never one for blood. The next was lawyer. So, from then on anytime anyone would ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would say a lawyer and here I am.
How important was it for you to attend historical black colleges?
It was very important to me. Attending Howard and Hampton afforded me an opportunity to learn, grow, and build as an individual not just study. It built character. The relationship I built was invaluable as well. No matter where I go in the world I can dial up an alumni and I have a home. Most of my early relationships when I first started practicing law came from college; I knew Sean Combs, and other music business executives before I became a lawyer in the entertainment business.
Why a Sports and Entertainment Lawyer, (as oppose to Corporate, Criminal)?
My main focus right now is entertainment, in that the majority of my clients are from the entertainment business, but I have had some athletes as clients. Allen Iverson was a client. Athletes are often trying to become a brand and extend their likeness into the entertainment business, or transition themselves into other areas. I specialize in building brands.
You've had a good degree of success as a lawyer in this field, what's next professionally?
I want to continue to create and develop brands. I want to interface corporate branding with street level marketing; I fluently function between those two worlds.
Edward L. Woods sat down in a leather club chair, in his plush 5th Avenue office diagonal to Central Park. Being an extraordinarily in demand legal professional didn't stop him from giving RMAN a minute of his precious time before he run off for another meeting.
He is a senior partner in his own law firm, Executive Vice President at Tommy Mottola's Casablanca Records, and the newly appointed President of the Black Entertainment and Sports Lawyers Association (BESLA). This power broker is not just focused on developing and navigating his own career, but as President of BESLA he is spear-heading an organization who's mission is to develop all the legal professional members of BESLA.
Mr. Woods did not start his interest in developing other attorney's careers upon being elected to BESLA presidency. He is personally responsible for hiring at least 15 young attorneys from historically black universities to his firm. Giving these young professionals the opportunity to play in the big league and learn their craft. We were happy to sit down with him to discuss his power moves.