One Music Industry alumnus is combining his love of music with a lifelong desire to be a lawyer.
Matthew Fulton, a 2018 graduate, credits Music Industry director Robert W. Smith with blazing the trail that would eventually end with an entertainment industry major player, New York City’s Romano Law PLLC.
He was introduced to the crowd gathered at 3rd and Lindley in March during the kickoff celebration and announcement of new programs in Music Industry and Business.
“I had a great undergrad experience,” he said. “I was actively involved in the (John M. Long) School of Music. I joined the Sound of the South having never been in a marching band, but I loved every second of it.”
He became a member of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, the world’s largest music fraternity, and minored in both entrepreneurship and legal studies.
It was an academic class, however, that would set Fulton on a direct course in the entertainment industry.
“As a sophomore, I enrolled in Professor Smith’s ‘Marketing of Recorded Music’ course. In that class, we ran the school’s recording company (Ilium Records) and I was assigned the job of business affairs director, which in the real world is the record company’s lawyer,” he said. “At the end of the semester, I went to Mr. Smith’s offices and told him ‘I think I want to go to law school.”
Smith responded by telling Fulton that was his idea in assigning him the job in the first place.
“He knew before I did that I was supposed to be a lawyer. He was guiding me down that path the entire time,” Fulton said. “As a little kid, I always thought about being a lawyer, but when I came to TROY I thought I wanted to be a classical arts administrator. I wanted to work for orchestras or opera companies.”
During his final semester, an internship at a NYC literary agency provided Fulton’s pathway back to New York City, where he worked in the contracts department at one of the “Big 5” book publishers for a few years.
“Having the work experience under my belt made a world of difference when it came time to go to law school,” he said.
He completed his juris doctor at Brooklyn Law School, consistently ranked as one of America’s top entertainment law schools and particularly known for being a school for music lawyers. During law school, an internship at Romano Law led to his first job offer as a law clerk at the firm, but he instead chose to defer the offer and spend his next semester in the school’s sports law clinic placed at a National Football League agency.
“After that, I returned to Romano and have stuck around ever since,” he said. “It feels a bit surreal to be so close to fulfilling my dreams of working as an attorney in the entertainment industry. The music industry, in particular, is one where I have always felt at home and I’m thrilled to be returning to the industry (as an attorney).”
Fulton is located in the New York offices of Romano, which also has offices in Fort Lauderdale, FL, Los Angeles, San Diego, Miami and San Francisco, but knows he’s there because he’s been challenged throughout his life.
“Surround yourself with people who inspire you to work harder. Make friends with folks that do what you want to do and with people who will challenge you to be better,” he said.
“The other piece of advice I would give (undergraduate students) is to not rush the journey. After you finish your undergrad, go into the workforce and gain experience. Figure out your working style and how you best get things done. Law school is not the place to figure that out,” Fulton added.