Concept image of the six most common questions and answers on a signpost.One important decision (among many) that an aspiring attorney must consider is what legal market to practice in. Many factors go into this decision-making matrix, including—but not limited to—the demand for specific practice areas, paths to partnership, market trends, family, weather, food, and proximity to the beach. Of course, the order of importance of these factors varies by individual preference. For me personally, proximity to the beach may or may not be ranked heavily.

Joking aside, the Miami legal market appeals to me for many reasons. For one, it is a young vibrant city with a rapidly-growing legal industry. Much of this growth has been fueled by an increase in international investment and subsequent real estate expansion. It is a city that has transformed from a pure resort destination to the gateway for business with Latin America—and to a growing extent with Europe and Asia. With growth comes opportunity. The opportunity to make an immediate and meaningful impact as a young attorney is perhaps the biggest reason I chose Miami.

Bilzin Sumberg has been at the forefront of the city’s growth since the firm’s inception. One way that the firm is currently meeting the demands of the Miami market is through its leadership role in Public-Private Partnership (P3) projects. In general, a P3 is a business relationship between a government agency and a private company for the purpose of developing public infrastructure or services. As Miami’s population continues to grow, the demand for infrastructure improvements will increase tremendously. This is one field that I personally desire to immerse myself in, especially in anticipation of the growing demand for improved infrastructure.

The firm also does a great job of developing associates. As a summer associate, I appreciate the opportunity to take on assignments related to multiple practice areas—from litigation to government relations. I also appreciate the challenge that each assignment presents. The assigning attorneys do a phenomenal job of communicating their expectations of the work product and providing us feedback at the conclusion of the assignment. This communication is essential to our development as summer associates and future attorneys of the firm. Before starting at the firm, I was unable to speak intelligently about a derivative action on behalf of a corporation, the affirmative defense of unclean hands, or the most efficient process of serving a complaint on a foreign corporation overseas—to name a few examples. Perhaps I still cannot speak intelligently about these topics, but I can at least appear to do so!

As the summer continues, I look forward to taking on more assignments, improving my knowledge on the trends of the Miami market, and growing as a professional alongside my fellow summer associates.

2017 Summer Associates Mock Transaction Meeting 1I think it was Posh Spice who once said, “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.”  Sure enough, we ran into the proverbial wrench in the plan during a mock real estate transaction meeting last week.  Due to a (thankfully fictional) emergency, an amendment to our carefully negotiated contract was suddenly necessary.  Luckily for us, there is protocol for these types of situations.  We sat down once again at the negotiating table; when the dust settled, the buyer’s team had more time, and the seller’s team had more money.

As you can tell, our deal is moving right along!  To refresh the reader’s memory, Lauren and I serve as counsel for the buyer, David Beckham (aka Eric Reissi).  Hannah and Luis serve as counsel for the seller, Scary Spice (aka Alex Barshel).  At stake for the buyer is the last piece of property needed for the construction of a MLS stadium; at stake for the seller is a pile of cold, hard cash.  Since our first negotiation for the letter of intent (which Eric so eloquently explained) we have actually had several meetings and cut numerous deals.
Continue Reading The Wrench in the Plan

IMG_0294On Friday, Hannah, Luis, Forrest and I attended the Federal Court Observer Program at the Federal Courthouse downtown. The Honorable Paul C. Huck presided over a fantastic program full of information for summer associates and judicial interns. For an added treat, one of our very own—Luis—was participating in the program, arguing in a mock motion hearing for a recently settled case!

The day started with breakfast and a reception. Hannah, Forrest and I only had time to give Luis a quick “good luck” as he was already in the zone. We were ushered into a courtroom filled to the brim with rising 2L and 3L students. Chief Judge K. Michael Moore welcomed us to the Federal Court, followed by Ramón A. Abadin—past president of the Florida Bar—who gave the welcome address. Both touched on the importance of professionalism, which seemed to be an overarching theme of the program. Judge Paul C. Huck informed us that he would be asking us trivia questions throughout the program. Judge Huck based most of the questions on reading material he distributed to attendees prior to the program. The material focused on advice for young lawyers, including the importance of your reputation and intellectual curiosity. Continue Reading Court is Now in Session

 

tour“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” is a proverb Bilzin Sumberg’s Land Development & Government Relations Group lives by.

On Tuesday night, the attorneys took the summer associates on a culinary tour through Wynwood. We had all heard great things about this event and it definitely lived up to the hype.

A tour guide met us at Wynwood Walls, a restaurant, bar, and art gallery, where the walls serve as canvas for world-renowned artists. But these artists must love just the process of painting because all but a few of the walls are painted-over each year at the start of Art Basel!

tour guideBefore starting the tour, the guide told us a fascinating story of how the late Tony Goldman, a famous developer, transformed Wynwood from a neighborhood with a high crime rate and low property value into the art mecca that it is today. The history lesson was interesting, but the guide knew to keep it short and sweet. We were all waiting in anticipation for one thing: food.

Boy, it was worth the wait. The first stop of the culinary tour was Mister Block Cafe, a shopping center with different stores and restaurants. We sat at a long, cafeteria-style table and sampled delicious Argentinian empanadas. As we ate, Stanley Price and Eileen Ball Mehta captivated us with stories of Miami’s shakers and movers, and before anyone knew it, it was time to move along to the next stop. Thirty minutes had whizzed by in what seemed like only thirty seconds.

The food we tried next at GK Bistronomie made it next to impossible to pick a favorite dish at the end of the night: First up was fresh ceviche served in a spiced citrus juice, and after that, “lomo saltado,” a traditional Peruvian dish consisting of stir-fried sirloin strips served on a bed of rice and potatoes; I’m getting hungry just writing about it! We also had refreshing cocktails as the summer associates listened to the now-infamous story of how one of the attorneys once innocently mistook mojitos for a type of lemonade. Needless to say, the difference between the two is no longer lost upon said person.

The last stop, Concrete Beach Breweryknown for its creative brewslived up to its reputation. Once we arrived, the hostess brought us refreshing beer infused with passion fruit, and invited everyone to join an ongoing beer-pong competition. While we gladly accepted the ice-cold beer to fend off the heat, we all politely declined to join the beer pong competition. Undergraduate students may not have to wake up before noon, but lawyers do!

Land Use
Eileen Ball Mehta, Dalayna T. Craigman, Stanley B. Price, Cristina Lumpkin, Carly Grimm, Leah Aaronson, Albert E. Dotson, Jr., Daniel S. Goldberg, Brian S. Adler, Eric Singer, Javier F. Aviñó, Hannah Lidicker, Luis Reyes, Eric Reissi, Lauren Sabella, Alexandra Barshel and Forrest Murphy.

 

Building Relationships (2)We are reaching the midpoint of our summer program here at Bilzin Sumberg and each day continues to present new learning and networking opportunities! Building relationships is essential to fostering a strong workplace environment, and everyone here does a phenomenal job of ensuring that we summer associates are a part of the team!

One way we build relationships is by grabbing lunch with different attorneys—from junior associates to senior partners—on a daily basis. Since there is no shortage of places to eat in Miami, the biggest challenge is choosing where to go! In between conducting superior legal research, crunching out legal memorandums, drafting complaints, editing contract clauses, and attending client meetings with attorneys, we often find ourselves venturing around Brickell in search of food.

One such lunch included the renowned summer associate trip to Rosa Mexicano with Mitch Widom, where we indulged in guacamole, tacos and churros! Needless to say, the food coma may or may not have kicked in.

Gluttony aside, we certainly do not take for granted the opportunities we have to interact with Bilzin Sumberg attorneys and staff on a daily basis. Lunch is merely one way we accomplish this. Overall, everyone here does a wonderful job of going out of their way to introduce themselves or check up on us.

On that note, I will use this opportunity to recognize Anthony Sirven and my mentor, Chris Pierson—two remarkable individuals here at the firm. On many occasions, Anthony—a former summer associate himself— has taken the initiative to assist me and my fellow summer associates with our legal research and writing assignments. As my mentor, Chris has taken the initiative to invite me to internal firm meetings—including one related to the eMerge Americas conference here in Miami—and he also makes time for lunch at least once a week!

Fostering a strong and collegial workplace culture is important for ensuring future success. Based on what I have seen here thus far, I am very optimistic moving forward.

IMG_0183Alex, Hannah, and Lauren had a chance to volunteer Wednesday night at Casa Valentina, but on Friday all the summer associates (along with Jessica Buchsbaum and Betsi Cobas) came together to give back to the community by volunteering at Feeding South Florida (FSF).  FSF is a non-profit organization dedicated to serving the hungry; it rescues 44 million pounds of food per year, as well as leads hunger and poverty advocacy efforts throughout Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade, and Monroe Counties.

We all got up early to drive to Hallandale Beach, where FSF has a sorting warehouse. Once we arrived, we were directed into an orientation room, where we were told to sign in and sit down. There were many summer associates from other South Florida law firms there to volunteer; each of us recognized some familiar faces from law school.  Joe Baldelomar, FSF’s Volunteer Coordinator, entered the room and told us about FSF’s mission and methods.  He also shared some harrowing facts about hunger in South Florida, including that 1 in 5 children go to bed hungry in the region.

Joe explained the process of how donated food is distributed to the hungry.  Donated food is first brought to a FSF warehouse, where it is then inspected, sorted, and shipped away to be distributed in various communities throughout South Florida.  We were there to help in the inspection and sorting process.  Joe concluded his presentation, and we were directed into another larger area of the warehouse, where donated food is stored. Continue Reading Feeding South Florida

IMG_9272Early in our tenure here, we learned how much Bilzin Sumberg likes to give back.

Yesterday, the women of Bilzin Sumberg went to the Casa Valentina shelter as part of a United Way volunteer project. Casa Valentina is a shelter for former foster care and homeless youth. The shelter serves as a transition tool for its residents to learn to live and thrive independently. For weeks, the firm has collected cleaning supplies to donate to the shelter as housewarming gifts for new and current residents. Last night, the women of Bilzin Sumberg went to United Way to arrange baskets for the residents. We were joined by a room full of women from other firms around the city. Karyl and Salome showed Hannah, Lauren, and me the ropes packing baskets, decorating them with ribbon, and writing cards to the residents. Continue Reading Bilzin Gives Back

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

The summer is definitely in full swing, and there are constant opportunities to learn more about Bilzin Sumberg. Tag alongs are opportunities to accompany attorneys to meetings, depositions, or court, or to listen in on phone calls. Last week, I was lucky enough to go on a tag along with Jay Sakalo and Jeff Snyder and sit in on a negotiation. In order to go, I did have to miss the Mock Real Estate Transaction’s contract negotiation, but it was definitely worth it to see a real negotiation in action!

On the way there, Jay and Jeff explained the topic and gave me all of the background information on the parties. They even filled me in on their negotiation strategy. This was helpful, because I understood much more throughout the day. I had the chance to ask a ton of questions, and overall the whole process was really interesting. I am hoping to use what I learned at our next Mock Real Estate session!

Most of the other Summer Associates have had tag alongs as well. Luis watched José Ferrer from the Litigation department argue before the 3rd DCA. José was appealing an injunction against our client made in the trial court.

Lauren attended an impromptu lunch with a client, when she and Melissa Pallet-Vasquez ran into him at Obba Sushi. Melissa had just completed a hearing on his case that morning, so he joined the lunch. Alex sat in on a phone call with Marshall Pasternack regarding a potential acquisition of property and Eric sat in on a phone call with Marty Shwartz regarding a commercial real estate sale.

Forrest hasn’t had a tag along quite yet, but he does have plans to accompany Jay Ward to the federal courthouse in a couple of weeks, so maybe he will fill us in later!

 

IMG_0181Disclaimer: The following story is a dramatization of true events. No summer associates were hurt in the making of this story.

It was May 28th, 2017, and the air was thick with excitement. The summer associates were preparing to participate in one of Bilzin Sumberg‘s most anticipated events. We were about to test our skills; we were about to test our luck; we were about to play Texas Hold ‘Em.

Members of three different departments met the summer associates in a conference room stacked with food, drinks, and three poker tables. As we all sat down, the dealers asked whether we had played Texas Hold Em’ before. Some said yes, others lied (just kidding­—I think). After the dealers gave a quick refresher course, the drama began. Everyone started out by playing conservatively and stuck to that game plan. Well, almost everyone.

I earned the lauded distinction of being the first to lose. As I got what would ultimately be my losing hand, the dealer asked if I knew a song by Kenny Rogers that says “You’ve got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em.” I told her I didn’t. This was foreshadowing at its finest.

I had a pocket pair of jacks—a pretty good hand—and thought I would surely take someone’s chips that round. Yet with each card the dealer revealed, the remote but possible chance materialized that someone could have a straight (five cards in sequential numerical order). It all came down to the last card dealt, “the river.” I thought my chances of losing were pretty slim. I decided to test my luck and went all in; it didn’t end well.

The summer associates made a strong initial showing, but one at a time, we began to fall. By the time the final table was set, only two of us remained. All of our hopes and dreams were riding on Alex and Forrest. Everyone gathered around the table and watched intently. Once again, fortunes would be won and lost on the river card.

Eventually the herd was thinned to two final players: Forrest Murphy and Josh Kaplan. Things got intense; I think someone even shouted “sweep the leg!” But when the dust settled, Josh emerged the winner and earned the spoils of victory: an Apple iPad. Yet like so many others at Bilzin Sumberg, Josh is all about giving back and donated his prize to Forrest. Then again, maybe the gift qualified as a tax-deductible charitable donation.

Unlike last year, no summer associate won the tournament, but we sure had a ton of fun! And perhaps more importantly, we learned why litigants so often settle rather than take their chances on a jury trial: You never know what the river holds.

The art of negotiation is an invaluable skill that many lawyers strive to perfect. Last week, we had an early opportunity to put our negotiation skills to the test during the initial phase of the Mock Real Estate Transaction. Led by Adam Lustig and Phillip Sosnow of the Bilzin Sumberg Real Estate Group, the Mock Real Estate Transaction is a summer-long training program designed to give summer associates early exposure to the main phases of a real estate deal.

The ultimate goal is to close a deal for the sale of land to be used for commercial purposes. Prior to the initial negotiation for the Letter of Intent, we were separated into two teams—Miami Beckham United LLC (buyers) and Not-So-Scary, LLC (sellers). Alex Roitman and Ali Lehson served as coaches to guide us and to ensure the negotiation session moved along smoothly…and believe me, their presence was absolutely necessary to quell a brewing dumpster fire when both teams conflated the inspection period with the closing period during the negotiation!

During the negotiation session, the atmosphere was extraordinarily intense. Representatives from both sides glared at each other from across the table with hawkish eyes, and each team conferred in plain sight in private (via ad hoc binder walls) to devise (and revise) bold strategies to keep the other team on its heels.

Okay, the atmosphere was not contentious, but it was still challenging to find compromise. Each side used its leverage to negotiate favorable terms related to the purchase price, inspection period, and closing period. After approximately thirty minutes of non-stop action, both sides finally agreed to terms within the Letter of Intent! Although the deal is not yet finalized, this initial success called for a celebration.

To celebrate, we attended a summer associate alumni event at Two Chefs. During this event, we had the opportunity to build camaraderie with attorneys who began their careers as summer associates at Bilzin Sumberg. We also had a chance to hang out with two of Bilzin Sumberg’s finest—Jay Sakalo and Jessica Buchsbaum!

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Supervised by the head chef, we demonstrated our superior cooking skills by preparing different dishes throughout various stations. Some of these dishes included—but were not limited to— the finest quinoa in town (prepared by Hannah Lidicker and Desiree Fernandez), perfect-to-the-crisp flatbread (prepared by Alexandra Barshel, Lauren Sabella, Jared Spector, and Leah Aaronson), perfectly-tenderized grilled steak (prepared by Forrest Murphey and yours truly), and the most upscale chocolate soufflé in South Florida (prepared by Luis Reyes, Shalia Sakona, and Jay Sakalo.

Now it’s time to put these newly acquired negotiation (and cooking) skills to use…