suit_papersBeing a strong writer is a requirement for practicing law, but ask a lay person and they may tell you “legal writing” evokes thoughts of confusing contracts and memos filled with obscure Latin phrases. Fortunately for us, Susan McCloskey of Susan McCloskey Writing Consultants came to Bilzin Sumberg this week to help us keep our writing clear, effective, and sans-“legalese.”

The process actually began weeks ago, when Jessica Buchsbaum asked each of the summer associates to submit writing samples. We also completed a “Writer’s Inventory”, answering questions about our writing methods, strengths, and weaknesses.  Susan used these materials to tailor her writing seminar to our individual needs.

Susan began by sharing proven writing techniques that improve organization, clarity, and concision. For example, Susan encouraged us to keep the purpose and the reader in mind when organizing and editing our writing.  This is crucial for us, because we’ll be doing work for attorneys with wildly different preferences and expectations over the summer. Continue Reading Legal Writing for Dummies (and Summer Associates)

Concept image of the six most common questions and answers on a signpost.

Our first week at Bilzin Sumberg came and went. We dined with attorneys, judged a baking contest, and attended firm events. Somewhere in the midst of that, we received our first few assignments. It only took a few days of working to realize how lucky we are to have so many resources available to help us complete them.

Just down the hall from the summer associates’ offices, Bilzin Sumberg houses a sizable library. Books line the walls from floor to ceiling, a familiar sight to us students. One or more librarians at a time staff the library all day and into the night. The library staff members are experts in their field and are available to us any time we have a research question, no matter how big or small. Continue Reading I Get by with a Little Help from My Friends

Summer Associate Bake Off 3By mid-week, our summer associate training mostly complete and it was time to get to work and choose our first assignments. Following precedent set by previous summer classes, we got toget    her to discuss who was most interested in the available assignments from the different practice groups. In just the first week, we have had the chance to work across practice groups including Litigation, Land Use, Business Finance and Restructuring, Corporate, and Tax!

Luis and Alex have been researching Miami-Dade’s competitive bidding procedure for the Land Use group. Eric has been drafting a tolling agreement and conducting case law research on the eligibility of a plaintiff to file a derivative suit. Hannah has been helping out on a closing by working on the checklist and updating agreements. Forrest is learning about bankruptcy law and the formation of creditor’s committees. Meanwhile, I‘ve had the chance to work with Jay Ward in Litigation on the case that I completed my first research assignment for last summer. It has been very interesting to see how the matter has progressed!

The summer associates have already had some fantastic tag-along opportunities – Luis was able to go to the 3rd District Court of Appeals to see José Ferrer advocate for his client’s position. We look forward to many more tag-alongs to observe different court proceedings and client interactions throughout the summer.

Even though training is ending, the summer program has many fun social events and traditions to look forward to. For example, the intense rivalry between Jessica Buchsbaum and Paul VanderMeer in the annual bake-off! Each year, the incoming class of summer associates completes an in-depth dessert survey, and Paul and Jessica make desserts customized to our preferences. A blind taste-test and vote determines the reigning champion. This year, Jessica’s chocolate chip s’more cookie cake triumphed over Paul’s butter-finger cake! (The rules of the competition prevent me from sharing the real recipes the competitors used, but the links above are a close approximation.)

Now that we’ve completed our first week, we are looking forward to a summer of engaging work assignments and exciting social events as we get to know the attorneys at Bilzin Sumberg and the city of Miami!

Summer Associate WineCheese7 As one of the two Summer Associates returning to Bilzin Sumberg for a second summer, I have the honor of writing the first blog post! While I was participating in the recruitment process, I used the blog to get an idea of what the summer program here is like. As a two-time summer associate, I am happy to help spread the word about the great summer program here at Bilzin Sumberg. Continue Reading It’s Great to be Back!

2017_Summer_Assoicates_GroupYesterday, we welcomed the 2017 Summer Associates (and bloggers!) to Bilzin Sumberg.  I’m excited to welcome back Hannah and Lauren and introduce to you Alex, Forrest, Eric and Luis.  Throughout the course of the summer, you’ll have the opportunity to hear from them about their experience at Bilzin Sumberg – from work assignments, tag alongs, training and mentors to social events.

We have a lot planned and we are all looking forward to next couple of months together!

The first year associates with Judge Thornton after taking their oath.
The first year associates with Judge Thornton after taking their oath.

Today was an exciting day!  Not only did our first year associates conclude their participation in The Academy for Professional Development, they also became members of The Florida BarJudge Thornton graciously took time to talk to us about civility, ethics and motion practice.  With family, friends and loved ones present, Judge Thornton then administered the Oath of Attorney.

We hope that over the past two and a half weeks, we filled the hearts and minds of Jennifer, Jessica, Anthony and Brendan.  They’ve seen great need and innovation in our community and we can’t wait for them to embark on their legal careers and grow to become leaders in our community.

In what feels like a matter of days, we’ve reached the third and final week of The Academy! Monday morning, we began the day at the office bright and early in the boardroom with Michael Kreitzer. Michael spoke to us about the basics of motion calendar and the different ways lawyers may prepare for their motions. We then took a trip to the Dade County Courthouse. Before motion calendar, we met with Judge Samantha Ruiz-Cohen in her chambers and had the chance to speak with her before what would be a very structured and eventful morning. The four of us first years filed into the jury box with Jessica Buchsbaum and Michael to witness the morning’s calendar beginning sharply at 9 a.m. In the approximate hour-and-a-half we were in the courtroom, we witnessed a variety of advocacy styles, legal issues, and requests from Judge Ruiz-Cohen.

Succeeding our morning’s theme of advocacy, we headed over to the Lotus House for a meeting with their Director, Anna Frusciante . She brought to our attention the issue of homelessness in Miami, specifically among women and children in the city. The discussion provoked thoughtful questions about the challenges homeless women face and the opportunities for assistance to the cause in the community. While at Lotus House, we learned that the center has the ability to accommodate up to 250 women and children, turning away thousands in need each year. Thankfully, after some pro bono work by many firm lawyers the organization is in the process of building a beautiful new location to accommodate over 500 women and children! While visiting, we were able to watch a short clip of a rendering of the new Lotus House facility, set to open in December of 2017!

Back at the office, we heard from David Trench and Melissa Pallett-Vasquez about arbitration and litigation issues that arise in specific cases. We ended the day with a visit from Alan Ojeda, the developer of our very own 1450 Brickell office space and much much more throughout the city of Miami. Alan spoke to us about how he started his development career in Miami after hailing from Spain. Most inspiring were Alan’s stories of acquiring property, building projects while others doubted his plans, and subsequently continuing to complete the numerous projects, all of which are still successful many years after their completion!

The Academy attends a rehearsal session for the "Spirit of Goodwill" Band
The Academy attends a rehearsal session for the “Spirit of Goodwill” Band

With two full weeks of the Academy behind us, I’ve been able to reflect on something that is truly inspiring. Bilzin Sumberg is not only investing in our development to become better lawyers, they are empowering us to become better people. Community is a major pillar of Bilzin Sumberg’s culture. This week was largely focused on ways in which we can give back to Miami.

We had the opportunity to speak with Jeff Levin and Mimi Klimberg from the Greater Miami Jewish Federation about identifying a cause for charity or community involvement. Throughout their presentation they cited research demonstrating that people are happier when they give back to the community. They stressed what Scott Baena and Marshall Pasternack have been reminding us all along: commit yourself to a cause that is important and meaningful to you.

Eileen Mehta introduced us to a cause that is important and meaningful to her. We had the honor and privilege of visiting Goodwill Industries of South Florida, a long-standing firm client. We met with David Landsberg, the President and CEO, who shared Goodwill’s vision and explained that Goodwill of South Florida is committed to creating jobs for people with disabilities. This particular Goodwill strives to train, employ and eventually assist in transitioning individuals with disabilities into the private work force. Goodwill South Florida is one of Miami Dade’s largest employers, and a large majority of those employees are people with disabilities, including autism, Down’s syndrome, cerebral palsy, intellectual disability, visual impairments and behavioral and psychological disabilities, who may otherwise have a difficult time seeking and maintaining employment. Goodwill has government contracts to produce Army uniforms and veteran’s flags, and additionally to clean many of the government buildings in Miami-Dade. Individuals with disabilities, employed and trained by Goodwill, complete a vast majority of this work.

Walking around the Goodwill facilities was completely invigorating. There were rows and rows of sewing machines, manned by incredibly hardworking and able individuals who appeared to take great pride and satisfaction in their work. Everywhere we looked there were pants being made, flags being produced, work being done and individual lives being shaped and bettered. As we walked around, we were greeted with many enthusiastic smiles, high fives and handshakes that certainly brightened all of our days.

The absolute highlight of my day was having the pleasure of hearing the “Spirit of Goodwill” band perform. The band members are talented, and their feel good music is guaranteed to touch your heart. The group is comprised of individuals with a wide array of disabilities, but their musical skill, excitement to perform and commitment to the band spoke so much louder than their disabilities.

Being in this incredible, opportunity-creating place made me so proud to work for Bilzin Sumberg. Eileen’s dedication helps make something like this possible. This experience reinforced the notion that the work we take has tremendous power to impact lives in a real and profound way.

little havana
The Academy visits Calle Ocho!

One of my favorite qualities of Miami is that is has held onto its vibrant roots in the community. Interestingly, the city also has an amazing ability to blend in large-scale examples of modern industry throughout, as explored in our firm’s New Miami Blog.

On the historical and cultural side, Miami has a number of excellent spots to enjoy some authentic Cuban food. To get a taste of Miami history, we headed out to an area called Little Havana, which is host to one of the best festivals in the country called “Carnaval Miami.” Packed with great shops and Miami history, Little Havana is also home to “Domino Park,” where for over 35 years, tradition has forged a meeting sport for friends and family to gather and enjoy their morning coffee with a competitive game of Dominoes.

Nicely complementing Miami’s culture, we were also able to see part of Miami’s latest industrial endeavors as we toured the All Aboard project that is underway in Downtown. The project, which is an express train service stretching from Miami to Orlando, is one of the many new and exciting developments going on to fuel Miami’s appetite for growth. Although the project will take some time to complete, we were impressed to see firsthand how quickly the company is transforming the Downtown area to include new upscale shopping and living space for tourists and residents alike to enjoy Miami’s culture.

United WayWeek two of The Academy is underway and we’ve already had two field trips. Up first was a visit to the United Way’s Center for Excellence in Early Education – a leading educational facility for children between one and five years old. While there we toured the educational facilities and also received a big-picture synopsis of what the United Way of Miami-Dade is doing in our community. In short, the United Way has partnered with other South Florida organizations that focus on three areas: Education, primarily in the early years; Financial Stability; and, Health. Though we had already participated in several of the United Way’s projects last summer, it was enlightening to learn more about the specific issues affecting our community – such as income and educational gaps and how they feed off each other – and, more importantly, how we can continue to get involved.

For our second trip, Suzanne Amaducci-Adams and Jon Chassen invited us to ride the Miami Metromover to tour the city. As we zipped through the Miami Skyline, Suzanne and Jon gave us a history lesson about the development of Brickell and Downtown Miami, and pointed out the projects they have worked or are currently working on – which, as an aside, included practically every building we passed along the way. Seeing these projects firsthand helped me appreciate our firm’s footprint on our city. But, as Suzanne emphasized, her primary goal was to introduce us to Miami Dade’s transportation system, which has seen exciting developments over the years and for which there remains many exciting opportunities.

In addition to the field trips, we’ve also had presentations by the Corporate and Real Estate Departments. It was exciting to learn more about what the departments do, the projects they have worked on, and how their deals often require teaming up with lawyers from other departments. Of course, that entailed covering a lot of material. So, to put that information into context, Stephen Sandiford and Christopher Pierson hilariously acted out a lawyer-client meeting in which Chris retained Stephen to help him sell a company that manufactures surgically-implanted communication devices – surely something many law partners would be lining up to buy for their associates. And after, we too became part of the program as Alexandra Lehson and Kent Koch turned the tables and asked us to negotiate a Guarantee Agreement for a multi-million dollar loan.

Overall, The Academy has provided us with an exciting introduction to our legal careers. We’ve had opportunities to interact with key members in our firm, leaders and organizations in our community, and professionals across many industries. I am excited to see what this last week holds, and even more excited to begin practicing after that.