As freshly sworn-in attorneys, Jenny and I headed in to our final days with renewed enthusiasm and excitement to officially start our careers at Bilzin Sumberg. On Friday, we began with the 21st Century Business Writing Workshop. We reviewed important skills we honed in law school and during our summer positions, and we also got to focus on the other types of writing we will engage as young associates. I left with a new perspective on how to share scholarship and insights as an attorney rather than a student, as well as how to find my voice and convey it through my writing.

 Next, we put our accountant hats on and learned how to read various financial statements with Stacia Wells, a partner in the Corporate department. While I successfully avoided diving in to this topic during law school, Stacia had an uncanny ability to make something quite complex understandable and relatable. I can confidently say I am no longer intimidated by financial statements. Also, this session with Stacia reminded me that the lawyers at our firm are great resources for complex issues that are not necessarily legal.

 Our next presentation was from John Sumberg and Scott Baena, and they told us about the firm’s creation and history, mission, values, and goals. It was a truly incredible and unique experience to hear about the growth and success of the firm from two of its founders. The emphasized the importance of community involvement, building relationships, and Bilzin Sumberg’s role as a large law firm uniquely embedded in the fabric of Miami.

We ended the day with a discussion about Client Satisfaction with Scott Baena. He explained his findings after meeting with many of the firm’s clients about what they value about Bilzin Sumberg, and what we can do, even as first year associates, to enhance service and add value to our client’s experience.

 Our last full day of The Academy began with a Practice Development talk with Jim Cranston from Law Vision Group. Jim helped us set short, mid, and long term goals for our own practice development. He helped us think about what we can do now to build relationships and eventually create a network that benefits us both personally and professionally.

 Later we went to lunch with the second year associates, Brendan Studley, Anthony Sirven, and Jennifer Junger. It was nice and relieving to hear about the lessons they learned their first year, and to know we always have people to talk to for any of our concerns. After lunch, we met with Michael Kreitzer to discuss real ethical dilemmas. We went through some interesting and realistic hypotheticals, talking about both what we would do as the attorney in the situation as well as what the Rules of Professional Conduct require of us. It reminded us that sometimes just because something is not an ethical conflict, it might still be a business conflict, and it is just as important to handle those with care in order to be the best lawyer for your client.

We ended the day with the Advanced Legal Research Skills seminar with Michael Moore, our Research and Competitive Intelligence Analyst and Jeff Snyder, a Business Finance & Restructuring partner. Michael gave us great research sources, tactics, and tips that will surely help us this coming year. Jeff supplemented Michael’s great tips with advice on how to do research most efficiently and accurately for the assigning attorneys.

 The last couple days of The Academy were jam-packed with invaluable discussions, advice, and information. As The Academy comes to an end I realize how helpful the last week will be to my career going forward. Furthermore, I am honored to join a firm that sees the importance in my personal and professional development at such an early point in my career. I feel equipped with all of the tools I need, and I am ready to get started!

 

Day 3 of The Academy began with a presentation led by Werten Bellamy, President of Stakeholders, Inc. Mr. Bellamy examined the qualities that allow junior attorneys to reach success. In our discussion, he highlighted the importance of ingenuity in your practice. While most attorneys gain the necessary writing, analytic, and advocacy skills in law school, attributes such as innovation, enthusiasm, and drive allow you to distinguish yourself in the profession.

Mr. Bellamy noted the importance of anticipating the needs of the senior attorneys you work for.  As a junior associate, the senior attorneys are your clients. By proving yourself to be reliable, dedicated, and resilient, senior attorneys will be inclined to invest in your success. Mr. Bellamy provided wonderful insight into the expectations senior attorneys have of incoming associates, as well as how to effectively live up to those expectations. All in all, Mr. Bellamy provided an invigorating perspective on the methods by which to thrive as junior associates.

After Mr. Bellamy’s presentation, we made our way to the Wilkie D. Ferguson, Jr. Courthouse. Elise and I took our Oath of Attorney before Judge Seitz. It was the culmination of three years of legal studies and training (and many years of hard work). We were joined by our families, Scott Baena, Jessica Buchsbaum, and Michael Kreitzer. Judge Seitz reminded us all of some of the overarching principles of our profession. As lawyers, we must demonstrate an unwavering commitment to truth and justice. We must preserve the reputation of our profession. In such efforts, we must seek opportunities to bring individuals to access to justice. Judge Seitz’s words of wisdom reinforced many of the concepts we have discussed in the last few days – we must demonstrate an absolute commitment to our community and profession.

The second day of The Academy highlighted a common theme attributable to the success of the professionals I have encountered: unwavering dedication to improving our community. Representative David Richardson is such an example. We had the pleasure to learn of Mr. Richardson’s contributions to the reform of Florida’s correctional system. His commitment and passion materialized into actual changes in the system. The attorneys at Bilzin Sumberg are no different; they have shared with us valuable insight into their careers and the choices that have lead them to success. Fueled by their desire to implement changes that would improve our beloved city, our attorneys have made a significant impact in Miami and forged valuable relationships along the way.

A significant part of the legal profession involves engaging with your community and developing your network. As such, Scott Baena, Brian Bilzin, Jennifer Junger, and Anthony De Yurre shared with us invaluable advice based on each of their unique networking strategies and experiences. Similar to the commitment necessary to impact your community, developing worthwhile relationships requires an investment of your time and efforts. As first-year associates, we are interested in refining our networking skills to ensure that we maximize the opportunities to expand our network. In our networking seminar, we learned of various opportunities and methods to develop valuable relationships based on the experiences of Bilzin Sumberg attorneys who are all at different stages in their careers. “Working a Room” involves taking a real interest in the discussion with individuals whom you want to learn more about, as well as a continuing desire to develop such relationships.

We concluded our second, eventful day of The Academy with happy hour at the SLS Brickell. We had the opportunity to catch up with the attorneys in our Recruiting Committee, as well as implement some of the networking strategies we learned. Scott Baena and Jay Sakalo shared with me some wonderful stories about the history of Bilzin Sumberg. The history of our firm zeroed in on many of the takeaways from our course offerings during day 2 of The Academy – making a meaningful impact on your community and cultivating relationships can lead to great success.

 

I can say with confidence that our first day as associates at Bilzin Sumberg was unique. Thanks to Hurricane Irma, Jenny and I started our careers at Bilzin Sumberg a week later than planned. Although this resulted in a lot of rescheduling of The Academy, it made for a very exciting beginning! Our first day focused on community, charity, and managing our time to maximize giving back to Miami as well as personal growth.

First, we met with members of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation who spoke to us on finding that cause that makes us “tick.” We talked about the values that motivate us and the multitude of ways that we can contribute to our city. They stressed the importance of finding an organization where we can both make a valuable impact and gain personal fulfillment and enjoyment.

Later we drove over to Goodwill Industries. I was astounded at what this organization has accomplished. Going beyond its mission of vocational training and placement of people with disabilities, the South Florida division of Goodwill has created several of its own businesses where intellectually and physically disabled people can work. We got to see this social entrepreneurialism in practice on our tour of the facility, where Goodwill employees make Army uniforms and assemble inserts for the Miami Herald. We also had the opportunity to talk with David Landsberg, the CEO of Goodwill South Florida, about the organization’s history and initiatives.

After we visited Goodwill, we headed to lunch at Soya & Pomodoro and met up with members of the Land Development & Government Relations practice group. After a delicious Italian lunch we walked over to the Brightline. We put on our boots, hardhats, gloves, vests, and goggles, and were ready to tour the construction site that will soon be the Miami hub for the high speed train connecting Miami to Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, and Orlando. I had never been to a construction site before, and it was fascinating to see the bare bones of a major project from the inside. It is going to be absolutely incredible when it is completed, not to mention the convenience and innovation it will bring to Miami.

Our last meeting of the day was with Juan Martinez, Vice President/Chief Financial Officer of the Knight Foundation. He spoke to us about the plethora of incredible initiatives the foundation is a part of, from funding the arts to hiring and encouraging others to hire minority and women-owned investment banking firms. He explained that the Knight Foundation looks to invest in ideas and opportunities that will be a catalyst for more change. We learned that we can translate this to our own individual experience, by choosing to invest our time where there will be a big and lasting impact.

Although all were unique, each of the organizations we met with today taught two consistent lessons. First, there is always time to give to causes that matter to you, you just have to make sure you utilize it. Second, find a cause that truly brings you joy, and success will follow. Our first day reminded me that the legal profession is more than what goes on within the firm, and to be a great lawyer you must be involved in the community you live in. To say I was inspired would be an understatement, and I cannot wait to join some of these great organizations and get to work!

 

With the summer program behind us and OCI season in full swing, we are starting to get excited around here!  The first year associates will be joining us in just under two weeks and we have The Academy ready and waiting for their arrival.  This year’s programming promises to be as impactful and meaningful as last year.
The impending arrival of the newest Academy members has us eager to share insights into the program through the video posted below.  Over the next few weeks, Elise and Jenny will be sharing their experiences in the program on our blog.

This summer, I’ve had the honor of writing both the first blog post and the final blog post. In my first post, I talked about the welcome wine and cheese event, the training sessions, and being back at Bilzin Sumberg. It is hard to believe that when I was writing that post nine weeks ago I barely knew Forrest, Luis, Alex, and Eric (Lauren I knew from last year!), and I had no idea that they would become such great friends and supportive colleagues.

Before we get to the end of summer fun, we have to get through the last of our assignments and our end of summer reviews. While I’m always a little bit nervous before the reviews, the attorneys always seem to provide helpful and encouraging feedback. Plus – my great mentor Lindsey Parker is always there with me! I’ve also tried to make an effort this year to reach out to individual assigning attorneys for feedback before my review — a suggestion from Jay Sakalo and Jessica Buchsbaum that I think has been helpful in improving my work and to building stronger relationships with the attorneys at the firm.

Continue Reading The Final Few Days of a Great Summer

As the summer program is coming to a close, I can’t help but smile as I think back to all the wonderful experiences I’ve had in just nine weeks at Bilzin Sumberg. Though all my other blog posts have been (hopefully) funny and lighthearted, with the readers’ permission, I’d like to indulge in some philosophical introspection and for posterity give a heartfelt account of my experience.

I think I can fairly speak for my fellow summer associates in saying that we are all truly blessed to have been summer associates here: The relationships we’ve built, the work we’ve done, the skills we’ve learned—all second to none.

My fellow summer associates and I have all become incredibly close during our short time so far at the firm; this is undoubtedly due in part to the emphasis here on fostering a positive firm culture. After all, the firm’s slogan is “be judged by the company you keep.” And speaking of company, not a single summer associate ever had lunch alone. From day one, we were encouraged to make lunch plans with attorneys whose practices might be of interest. The attorneys, despite their busy schedules, always found a way to make time for us. Between all of the lunches and all of the practice-group events, the summer associates got to meet almost everyone.

But of course, there is much more to life as a summer associate than being taken out to lunch every day; there are assignments! The breadth of work that I got to do over the summer was incredible, making it much easier to rank my preferred practice groups at the end of the program. For instance, I worked on matters involving public-private partnership proposals, antitrust business development, Florida service of process requirements, luxury hotel management contracts, and I even contributed to two appellate briefs. I also attended client meetings, a mediation session, and an oral argument at the Third District Court of Appeal.

The work I’ve done this summer has been incredibly fulfilling, but I believe the people at Bilzin Sumberg are what set this firm apart from others: employees here are not just co-workers or friends—they’re family. Law is a rewarding but tough career. If we’re going to be “in the trenches,” why not be with people we can call family?

The final week of our summer associate program has suddenly approached us! Throughout the summer, my fellow summer associates and I have taken on a diverse array of assignments from all practice groups, attended multiple social events, and built invaluable relationships.

As a 1L summer associate, I am particularly grateful for the unique opportunity to grow as a professional with Bilzin Sumberg and gain early exposure to demands of the Miami legal market. Whether we just finished our first year or second year of law school, the assigning attorneys expect the highest standards of performance from each of us, and they do not hesitate to challenge us with complex assignments.

Taking on challenging assignments is what enables us to grow as future attorneys. For my very first assignment, for example, my initial task was to determine the most efficient means of serving process on a foreign corporation overseas when that corporation has no agent located in the United States. After conducting extensive research and discussing multiple courses of action with the assigning partner, a decision was made on where the complaint would be filed and on how the foreign corporation would be served. However, my involvement in this matter did not end there. My next task was to draft the complaint itself. Since a complaint is a document of first impression for the court, drafting a complaint is certainly no menial task.

Other assignments that I have taken on were equally as challenging and conducive to my legal development. These assignments have required me to research unique legal issues—from whether a corporate director breached his fiduciary duty to whether a stock transfer was complete. I have also written extensive legal memorandums, drafted letters to the county regarding government contracts, and drafted cease and desist letters.

Work is important, but so is building long-lasting relationships. Another unique aspect of our summer program includes the opportunity to do just that. This past June, for instance, Brian Adler graciously hosted us at his house for an amazing dinner, where he demonstrated his superior catering skills and expertise in fine wine. Furthermore, just last week we attended a Tax practice group event with Richard Goldstein at the Key Biscayne Yacht Club, where we enjoyed cocktails and socialized with the tax attorneys.

Overall, this summer has been a success. I am grateful for the opportunity to be a part of such an amazing team, and I look forward to what the future holds.

Closing celebration at Sugar!

Over the summer, we have had the chance to experience every stage of a typical real estate transaction through the Mock Real Estate Transaction program. From the initial contract negotiation to contract amendment, Adam Lustig and Phil Sosnow led the summer associates through each step to closing. This week, after preparing a special warranty deed, a general assignment, a no lien affidavit, and a closing statement, we were finally ready! The teams showed up prepared (or so we thought). Continue Reading (Almost) Getting to Closing