I’m a South Florida native, but trust me when I say that don’t mean I’m from Miami. I was born in Pembroke Pines, went to high school in Coral Springs, and have family spread out all over Davie, Hollywood, Fort Lauderdale, and Plantation. In other words, I’m from Broward County, not Miami-Dade.

As someone who identifies as a ‘Broward Girl’, I have always been reluctant to make the move to Miami. I didn’t like the idea of daily traffic, endless construction, and being further away from my family. It was because of this reluctance that I chose to live in Fort Lauderdale during my 1L summer at Bilzin Sumberg last year. Instead of getting a parking pass for the office building, Bilzin Sumberg provided me with a Brightline pass, and I used it along with the free people-mover in Miami to make my commute.

This summer is looking a lot different. This summer, I caved. I said goodbye to my rent-free lifestyle and am now subleasing an apartment in South Miami. Therefore, as someone who has gotten to do both, I wanted to share my take on the differences between living in Miami and choosing to live elsewhere, specifically from the perspective of someone who is working in the Brickell area.

PROS of Living in Miami

  • Convenience: the #1 best part about living in Miami is the convenience. It is much more convenient to be 5-30 minutes from the office compared to 1-2 hours. While the Brightline train system allows for other cities to be more convenient, what living in Miami does is keep home close. Whether you feel sick, need to walk the dog, are running late for work, or forgot your lunch, living closer makes it easy to quickly get home, which is sometimes the only selling point one needs.
  • Networking: Miami has really become the hub for young and new professionals to network and meet likeminded individuals. Whether you’re looking to expand your business portfolio or simply make new friends, there’s really no other city in South Florida that can turn a happy hour into an unexpectedly amazing social opportunity like Miami. This is especially important for those who are not locals and are looking to quickly build new friendships.
  • Lifestyle: it goes without saying that there is a lot to do in Miami. Catch an NBA Miami Heat game, go to South Beach, visit all the fancy restaurants you see online, etc. With all these options, it’s hard to ever be bored. Does it get expensive?….Yes. But boy does it make for some awesome memories and photo ops.

CONS of Living in Miami

  • Traffic: the problem with Miami being labeled as the “dream” place to be is that traffic is inevitable. Morning traffic. Lunch hour traffic. Evening traffic. Event Traffic. Weekend Night traffic. There are a lot of people in Miami and everyone always seems to have somewhere that they need to be. Therefore, be ready to accept the you may still need to account for traffic delays even if you technically live only a couple miles from the office.
  • Isolation: being in Miami makes getting to places near Miami easy, but what about all the places outside of that bubble? Fort Lauderdale, Delray Beach, West Palm Beach, to name a few. Being in Miami makes getting to these cities much more of a hassle, and sometimes this can discourage you to venture elsewhere, which would be a shame since South Florida as a whole has so much to offer!
  • Price: I tell people that South Florida is an awesome place to live, but only if you can afford it, and that is especially true for Miami. Not only is Miami one of the most, if not the most, expensive cities in the country to live in considering rent alone, but with so many financial temptations at one’s fingertips, it can make it hard to live a budget-friendly lifestyle.

PROS of Not Living in Miami

  • Accessibility: just as living in Miami can make it more difficult to explore cities outside of its bubble, living outside of Miami can allow you to more easily take that drive and see what else South Florida has to offer. While cities like Doral, Pompano Beach, Boca Raton, and Dania Beach may not be everyone’s first choice for a night out, one would be surprised about how great those cities can be, especially if you want a break from the Miami hustle and bustle.
  • Housing Options: opting to live outside of Miami does provide more diverse and affordable housing options. Whether you’re looking to spend less on rent or are in need of a house with a backyard rather than an apartment, looking outside of Miami will definitely give you more options to choose from, and can assist you in finding a home that will fit you’re lifestyle rather than you having to fit your lifestyle to Miami.
  • Peace & Quiet: one problem that a lot of people have with Miami is that it’s very busy and congested. If you are someone who prefers peace and quiet, living outside of Miami may be the perfect option. This is because a lot of the neighboring cities in Broward County or even out West in Miami-Dade county are more geared towards older individuals or families. Nonetheless, almost every city in South Florida has some kind of young population and normally you’re never too far from the night life.

CONS of Not Living in Miami

  • Inconvenience: living outside of Miami is completely inconvenient. The drive to work is most likely minimum an hour instead of otherwise, and getting home if needed is not as easy of an action. As mentioned above, the Brightline can help, but it will never be as easy as living down the street. Not to mention the gas money that you’ll need to spend if you find yourself having to go into the office often.
  • Separation: if you’re not from South Florida, living in a city that is not as known for it’s social atmosphere can easily make one feel like they’re missing out on the Miami action, especially if everyone you know lives in Miami. This is less of a problem if you already have connections or family elsewhere, but for some who moves to Miami completely solo, it may make being further away from social scene more difficult.
  • Price: no matter where you live in South Florida, it most likely won’t be cheap. Therefore, some find it hard to justify the amount of rent required to be in a city that is far away from the office. To a lot of people, the fact that they’ll be spending a lot of money anyways makes Miami’s extra price tags worth it.

Although 2L year was a blast, I must admit that I was counting down the days until I was back at Bilzin Sumberg for the summer! On the second day of my second summer at Bilzin, we kicked off the summer season with a Welcome Event. We embraced the soaring temperatures (by staying inside!), gathering in our beautiful sunlit conference room. The event was complete with incredible wine and cheese and the most welcoming atmosphere.

Partway through the evening, Melissa Pallett-Vasquez invited the summer associates to the front of the room to introduce (and for Crystal Singh and I, re-introduce) ourselves to the firm. Although standing in the front of a room full of attorneys can be daunting, even on your best day, it was refreshing to look around and see nothing but smiles and friendly faces. The entire evening was a refreshing departure from the formalities of typical legal introductions, allowing us to connect on a more personal level and discover some of the diverse interests that make the Bilzin family truly exceptional. In a profession often characterized by intensity and rigor, this lighthearted gathering served as a reminder that balance and camaraderie are essential ingredients for success.

The welcome event marked the beginning of our summer at Bilzin, where we can look forward to nurturing and developing our individual interests in the law, from diving into legal research with the litigation team, to drafting opinion letters and operating agreements on the transactional side. Here at Bilzin Sumberg, the summer associates are not just observers—we really are made to feel like integral members of the team, who are lucky enough to be mentored by seasoned attorneys and supported by a tight-knit community. And of course, we can look forward to Jessica Buchsbaum’s fabulous events, exciting tag-alongs, and the daily lunch adventures!

As we get back into the swing of the summer and reflect on our first week at Bilzin, I have to say, we really are Proud to be Judged by the Company We Keep, and I think I speak for all the summer associates when I say we are so excited to dive into the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

Melissa Pallet-Vasquez introducing the summer associates.
L to R: Hannah Lidicker, Kayla Hernandez, Daniel Bumm, Spencer Peek, Sofia Siegel, Isabella Durand, Melissa Pallet-Vasquez, Ethan Schwab, Matthew Tieman, Crystal Singh
L to R: Joseph A. Beguiristain & Ethan Schwab
L to R: Mark Meroney, Spencer Peek & Daniel Bumm
L to R: Alani Fraga, Brittany Chung, Crystal Singh, Saron Musa & Nellie Estefania Barcia
L to R: Sofia Siegel, Spencer Peek, Isabella Durand, Ethan Schwab, & Crystal Singh

We are thrilled to extend a warm welcome to Bilzin Sumberg’s 2024 summer associates. As contributors to our blog, they’ll share their unique insights, experiences, and maybe even some humor along the way.

So, get ready to hear from the newest members of our team as they dive into their summer experience. Whether they’re tackling complex legal issues or sharing their favorite lunch spots, we are excited to share their perspectives.

Welcome to Ethan, Spencer, and Sofia and welcome back to Isa and Crystal! Here’s to a summer filled with growth, learning, and probably too much food!

Dear Bilzin Sumberg,

And just like that, our 9 weeks are over. 9 weeks of hand shaking, Westlaw researching, happy hour attending, memo writing, and last minute lunch planning have come to an end, and all we can say to you is thank you. Thank you for giving us this amazing opportunity to not only grow as law students, but as people. Your kindness was noticed from the first day we arrived and it has only been followed with support and guidance. Yes, assignments were difficult. Yes, days were stressful, but getting the chance to work on real matters and be a part of real cases made it all worth it. We all truly believe that there is no firm built like Bilzin, and we intend to carry that message forward to anyone who asks “How was your summer?”

Thank you for showing us that Big Law does not have to mean working until midnight every day, fearing our superiors, and having no time for family, but instead can be about enjoying work-life balance, admiring those we work for, and having the freedom to live out all our future aspirations. You have given us a new perspective on what it means to work at a firm, and we will forever be grateful.

With all that being said, we thought it would only be appropriate to present to you the 2023 Summer Associates’ Attorney Awards. This is our way of celebrating all the big and small moments. This is our way of saying we will miss you all. This is our way of saying Thank You to everyone at Bilzin Sumberg.

Most Likely To Join the Summer Associates for Happy Hour: Adrian Felix

Most Likely to Get Roasted by Al Dotson: Javier Aviñó

Most Likely to Tell You Where They Went to Law School: David Seifer (University of Florida)

Best Dressed: Shalia Sakona

Most Likely to Heavily Redline Your Memo but Still Tell You That You Did a Great Job: Adam Lustig

Most Likely to Stop by Your Office and Say Hi: Phil Stein

Least Likely to Say No to Lunch: Sara Herald

Honorary Summer Associate: Daniel Bumm

Best,

The 2023 Summer Associates

Closing the doors on nine remarkable weeks, the end of our summer associate journey at Bilzin Sumberg was met with a magical evening at Melissa’s home. The closing event was far from a simple farewell gathering. It was a testament to our shared experiences, a reflection on lessons learned, and a beacon illuminating the path to our professional futures. Amid the inviting scent of sushi and sake, our smiles shone brighter, our laughter rang louder, and the bonds forged over the summer seemed even stronger. This was not just an evening of dining, but a night for reminiscing. We recollected victories and learnings, trials and triumphs, and the bonds forged over this summer.

As the evening dimmed into the night, we toasted to our milestones, our perseverance, and the bright futures awaiting us. The joy in the room was palpable, a snapshot of the collective spirit of Bilzin Sumberg. A heartfelt thank you to Melissa for her generous hospitality, Jessica and Betsi for their unwavering mentorship, and everyone at Bilzin Sumberg for shaping our summer into an unforgettable journey.

The lessons and experience I’ve gathered this summer go beyond research projects, drafting documents, and tag-alongs. It’s the laughter shared, the challenges faced, the mentorship received, and the friendships formed that will be etched in my memory. These experiences have not just sculpted my understanding of the law but have enriched my personal growth and perspective.

To Bilzin Sumberg, our mentors, my fellow summer associates, and the spectacular summer we spent together – a toast to you all. As we stride towards the future, these memories will serve as a guiding light, reminding us why we are “Proud to be Judged by the Company We Keep.”

Here’s to the knowledge gained, the connections made, and the journey that awaits!

Last Thursday the Tax/Trusts & Estates Group hosted the final practice group-specific event of the summer—a wine tasting at Vinya. As a relative newcomer into the wine scene, this was an event that I was particularly looking forward to, and upon reflection, the experience shared many similarities with the summer associate journey.

Coming into the wine tasting I had a general idea about the types of wines I like, but I really had not dedicated much time—if at all—to think through and identify the specific flavors and characteristics that I enjoy in a wine. Hence, much like with the summer associate experience, I figured a lot of this event would be about embracing the unknown and putting forth an honest best effort.

You can imagine I was glad to hear when the event started that we would not be “put on the spot” to identify the different flavor profiles of each wine—because then I truly would have been navigating rather blindly. We instead worked together as a group to decipher where the wines we were tasting came from: the “old world”—think Europe—or the “new”—think the Americas. Each Pinot Noir had a very distinct flavor profile, which I thought presented a great platform to learn how differences temperature and location might change the taste and appearance of wines, even when dealing with wines in the same category.

Throughout the tasting I found that expressing my initial gut feeling on taste, no matter how crazy, at the very least sparked a conversation, but on a deeper level also allowed me to adjust the way I was thinking about each flavor profile. The sommelier constantly corrected my attempts at describing the wines with “wine-lingo” that more accurately described what I was trying to express, an experience that reminded me of my learning process with corporate drafting this summer.

Ultimately, as with the work I have been doing at Bilzin this summer, I found that by giving an honest best effort, asking questions, and listening to the experts, I was able to learn much more than I had originally expected. Some of my first attempts at deciphering the subtle notes and nuances in the wines might not have been on point—and some people even considered them silly (though I would never single them out), but in the end I truly felt like I learned something valuable throughout the wine tasting—and the same can be said of my experience at Bilzin this summer!

For most of my life I’ve lived in three similarly-sized small cities: Port Saint Lucie, FL, Gainesville, FL, and my current home of Durham, NC. While I’ve loved them all in different ways, my experience in Miami this summer has easily (and, perhaps, unsurprisingly) blown them all out of the water. As a passionate fan of fun cocktails and unique eats, I honestly didn’t know where to begin exploring the restaurant/cocktail bar scene in Miami. Luckily, with the help of a few of my fellow Summers, I have concocted a solid guide to some of the best happy hour spots in Miami (well – at least around the Brickell area!)

Best Over-all Happy Hour: Paperfish.

  • A classic – one I have been to right after work with my fellow Summers, and have also brought friends from home to. You cannot go wrong with Paperfish! The ambiance is akin to going out to dinner, without being intimidatingly stuffy. The menu has both great food and fun drinks; it was our first happy hour spot of the summer, and one we keep going back to for good reason!

Best “Party” Happy Hour: Barsecco.

  • Neighbors with Paperfish, Barsecco’s ambiance is definitely unique. The Summers attended a happy hour at Barsecco around the midpoint of the summer, and I think we all were surprised with the trendy feel and the great deals. An interesting mix of post-work happy hour and a DJ playing dance remixes (no lie – when we went the DJ played a remix of “The Hanging Tree” from the Hunger Games; I couldn’t believe my ears), Barsecco’s happy hour menu is really quite good. All of their signature drinks and a selection of food items are set at $7 each!

Best Happy Hour Outside of Brickell: Chug’s.

  • I first went to Chug’s for breakfast with Melissa Pallett-Vasquez, a partner here at Bilzin, and, let me tell you, it was DELICIOUS. Truly, a great spot to go to for brunch, lunch, or even a reliably yummy dinner. For this reason, it was one of the first places that came to mind after finishing up an afternoon of shopping at Books & Books in the Grove a few weekends ago. Though I went for dinner, I was surprised at how great the happy hour was! Also – Chug’s happy hour isn’t limited to the weekdays, which definitely makes it stand out.

Best “Classy” Happy Hour: The River Oyster Bar.

  • If you are looking for a happy hour spot that feels a little more mature or higher-end than the others on my list – this is likely the spot for you. While I heard through the grapevine that the happy hour here used to be an even better deal (oysters for $1!), the current happy hour menu is still a great way to have a nice glass of wine and a bite with friends without breaking the bank. The ambiance here is great, and it’s only a short Metro Mover ride away from the office.

Notable Mention: Rosa Sky.

  • A group of Summers, Associates, and Partner Adrian Felix ventured to a happy hour earlier this week at Rosa Sky, and we had a great time! Rosa Sky is a roof top bar with some really beautiful views, and it was a great environment for everyone to hang out and get together outside of the office. I’d been told about Rosa Sky several times throughout the summer, but never seemed to make it there (or any other roof top bar) despite Miami having some fantastic options – and, if you’re like me and don’t know where to start, this is one that I highly recommend!

Going to happy hour with my Summers was such a great way not only for us to get closer as a summer class, but also for us to get to know the area a little bit better. To close out my little guide, I include as a small disclosure that this is by no means a conclusive list, and I am so excited to continue exploring the Brickell and Downtown Miami areas throughout the remainder of the summer and in the future. If anyone has recommendations for me and the other Summers to try before the summer closes up – send them our way!

This summer has been chock-full of exciting assignments, thrilling tag-alongs, and too many lunches to count, but Saturday’s event undoubtedly takes the cake. Bilzin Sumberg hosted its annual firm dinner party at the Mayfair House in Coconut Grove, a historic Miami hotel that boasts incredible architecture and gardens.

To begin the evening, Managing Partner Al Dotson gave a toast to celebrate Bilzin Sumberg attorneys who, over the past year, have accomplished incredible wins, closed huge transactions, and earned prestigious awards. Al congratulated Lori Lustrin, who recently delivered the closing statement in a case that secured a multi-million dollar verdict for one of the largest toy manufacturers in the country. He then introduced one of Bilzin’s newest Senior Counsel members, Judge Michael Hanzman, who was also recently awarded the Florida Justice Association’s Judicial Achievement Award. At the conclusion of the speech, Al had every summer associate introduce themselves to the room, and despite my absolute stage fright, it was incredible to stand up and look into a room full of familiar smiling faces!

Following a celebration of the firm accomplishments and a stunning cocktail hour in the atrium of the Mayfair, we sat down and had an incredible dinner, chatted with friends and colleagues, and enjoyed the evening. We are truly lucky that spending a Saturday evening with our coworkers was a highlight of the summer!

The summer being almost over is bittersweet, but I am grateful for every opportunity I have had to learn and every attorney that has helped us out along the way, and cannot wait for these last few days, lunches, and events at Bilzin!

I came into the summer associate program with a lot of goals—become a better legal researcher, a better editor, a better communicator, etc. But a goal I haven’t spoken about as much is a personal one. As someone who is new to Miami, I really wanted to make at least one new friend in the city. Luckily, the Bilzin summer program supplied me with nine fantastic candidates. I am, of course, talking about the other summer associates.

Bilzin does a great job of providing opportunities for us to get to know each other, from a wine and cheese event the very first week to the fun of cooking a family-style dinner together to our competitive round of mini-golf at Puttshack. But I’m just as grateful for the plans we have made on our own.

Take, for instance, yesterday’s Mock Real Estate Closing. The Real Estate Group and Chief Legal Talent Officer Jessica Buchsbaum and Legal Talent Coordinator Betsi Cobas did an incredible job of planning and executing the mock transaction start to finish. They even organized a happy hour at Paperfish Sushi to celebrate our successfully closing of the “transaction.” But with the help of our very active group chat, the summer associates leveled the event up—we decided we would all wear pink for the occasion to match the Barbie theme.

(L to R) Isabella Durand, Carlos Markovich, Michael Muray, Sarah Carraher, Pressly Pratt, Crystal Singh, Alberto Poleo, Sanika Nanda, Savannah Bergeron and Skye Jackson

The ten of us—plus Jessica—committing whole-heartedly to the dress code showed me how close-knit our group has become in just the past six weeks. I’m so glad I said yes when we planned our very first happy hour the day of orientation (ironically, also at Paperfish!) and have kept saying yes to invitations to lunch, shopping, and walks around Brickell.

Now, with only two weeks of the program left, I have begun reflecting on which of my summer goals I have met and which I’m still working on. I can say confidently that I’ve exceeded my goal of making one new friend by at least 900 percent.

What do golfers do on their days off? Putter around.

What do Bilzin summer associates do after a Tuesday in the office? Play mini golf (this week at least)!

After another great 3:05 coffee break (another one of my favorite events at Bilzin), the summer associates headed over to Brickell City Center, and attorneys from the Litigation and Construction groups came out to join us at Puttshack. After having the rules explained to us, it was time to get this par-tee started. We had plenty of delicious snacks to fuel our minigolf game, and the summer associates had a great showing out on the course (check out the scores below). This is no ordinary mini-golf course; the Puttshack technology keeps track of your scores and displays them on a screen as you go, so all you have to do is play!

This was an event even the most athletically challenged of people, such as myself, could enjoy! Each hole had a fun, unique theme, ranging from trivia questions and Pac-Man themed holes to air hockey and Connect Four. We ended the night with a delicious beignet dessert and plenty of laughs. Not only did we get to chat with attorneys from the Litigation and Construction departments, we also celebrated Alberto’s birthday!

While it is sad the summer is winding down, I am looking forward to the last few weeks of events and cannot overstate how amazing this summer has been so far. To putt a long story short, a summer at Bilzin Sumberg means a summer of great work experience and lots of fun too. It doesn’t get putter than this!