Over the course of the summer program at Bilzin Sumberg, there have been some incredible opportunities to learn, grow, and build relationships. Though there are countless things that I could express my appreciation for, I want to take this opportunity to discuss how wonderful it has been to be a part of this incredible group of summer associates.

From our first day, I realized that not only was I going to be working at an incredible firm this summer, but also that I’d be doing so among a group of people who were just as kind and impressive as I could have imagined. We came in with varying interests, ranging from Land Use and Real Estate to Corporate and Litigation. We also come from law schools all over the country, making it a truly dynamic group. This mix of interests and experience allowed us all to learn both from the firm itself and one another in a way that only made the summer here all the more enriching.

Now that the summer is coming to a close, I will certainly miss running into my fellow summer associates in the hallways in between assignments, going to lunches and for coffee runs together, and all of the bonding we did at our many social events throughout the summer program. I feel privileged to have been among such a wonderful group and know that the relationships built here will continue beyond these nine weeks.

Bilzin Sumberg is “Proud to be Judged by the Company We Keep.”

Over the summer, I had the opportunity to see how that phrase is implemented at the firm on a daily basis. Every attorney I’ve spoken to this summer has reflected on a pro bono matter they worked on while simultaneously handling other complex matters. Almost all attorneys are also involved in the local community and enjoy giving back. Thus, it comes as no surprise that Bilzin Sumberg marked the fifteenth anniversary of Bilzin Sumberg Cares Day this past weekend.

(L to R Carlos Markovich, David Jessup Jr., Ridgana Bonne-Annee)

On a bright Saturday morning, attorneys, staff, and family arrived at the Family Resources Center of South Florida ready to get to business. This time, “getting to business” meant switching our professional attire for comfortable clothing that we didn’t mind getting paint on. We were entrusted with painting some of the spaces at the center, a non-profit that provides a healthy and safe environment for children and works to build healthy relationships between children and their families. The Bilzin Sumberg group took the responsibility seriously, immediately coordinated efforts, and split into different teams to paint the rooms.

(L to R Teodora Maftei, Ridgana Bonne-Annee, Carlos Markovich, Andrés Rivero)

My team consisted of Stephanie Berrios and Omar Wahab in marketing, Andrés Rivero, Brianna Sainte, Claudia Capdesuñer, David Jessup Jr., and summer associates Carlos Markovich and Ridgana Bonne-Annee. While painting, we each went around and played our favorite song/artist, which helped us learn a little more about each other and lighten up the mood. Once we finished painting, we were tasked with assembling some toys. After an arduous (re: fun, reminiscing over our childhood memories) process, Ridgana, Carlos, Andrés, and I successfully put together a miniature kitchen.

Judging by the smiles on everyone’s faces and the brightly pained walls, Bilzin Sumberg Cares Day was a success. Bilzin Sumberg once again proved why we are “Proud to be Judged by the Company We Keep.”

PROVIDED, HOWEVER, THERE IS MORE THAN ONE (1) CORRECT WAY TO DRAFT

As the Real Estate group’s own Marty Schwartz has been advocating for 15 years, documents can be drafted in different styles. No particular style will earn you favor with a client or in litigation, but lawyers adopt different styles throughout the course of their careers. Often, through mentors or feedback, and it has been seemingly etched in stone, as Marty describes it, that lawyers must use legalese or be shunned. Without common parlance like repeating numbers not one (1) but two (2) times, or phrases like herein, witnesseth (which Word processor refuses to acknowledge as a word), and all manner of unintelligible phrases, Marty suspects that lawyers feel as though their work would not be recognized or valued as legal writing. It is this fear that gives way to clauses like the one found below, containing a 631-word sentence (not paragraph), that fails to present any meaning.

Through his “Lunch and Language” lessons, Marty has spent the last 15 years trying to combat this form of writing. One key lesson I’ve drawn from these events is that it really is possible, without sacrificing legality or meaning (or lack thereof) to rephrase these huge clauses into simple, English phrases that would make your high school professors proud. There is no real need to have repeated, sophisticated phrasing, or to bold and CAPITALIZE ENTIRE CLAUSES, unless, as Marty says, you want to have people take two aspirin before they read your writing.

One of the trickier parts of undoing this style of writing is how engrained in legal culture it is, becoming almost impossible to break. It is synonymous with being lawyerly, even throughout the Firm, and the type of writing below is perfectly acceptable. Several attorneys I have spoken with have heard the speech before, urging them to write in plain English and leave behind the jargon, but few if any do. While you would certainly not submit the clause below as a writing assignment at any academic level, it is acceptable and even encouraged in the legal community. When you have co-counsel going over 80-page documents to change the number formatting, or sending you back documents changing the style to a more traditional one, it’s a tough sell to explain to a client how that adds anything to their document.

It is astonishing how this has come to be, and how easily it could theoretically be resolved, but the problem seems systemic. We are taught to “think and write like a lawyer” in law school, whatever that means. And as many have noted, these early teachings are perpetuated throughout one’s career: through feedback, common forms used and shared, and general encouragement toward that traditional way of writing. While this “traditional” form of writing will likely remain in vogue for generations to come, I hope that through advocacy and the continued adoption of plain English drafting, we can all read and understand more construction clauses and consumer terms of service, together.

Indemnity. BORROWER SHALL INDEMNIFY, DEFEND AND HOLD HARMLESS LENDER (AND FOR PURPOSES OF THIS SECTION 4.30, LENDER SHALL INCLUDE THE INITIAL LENDER, ITS AFFILIATES, SUCCESSORS AND ASSIGNS, AND THEIR RESPECTIVE OFFICERS AND DIRECTORS), EACH LENDER, CASUALTY CONSULTANT, SERVICER, THEIR DIRECT OR INDIRECT CONSTITUENT OWNERS, EACH OF THEIR RESPECTIVE AFFILIATES, AND EACH OF THEIR RESPECTIVE SUCCESSORS, ASSIGNS, EMPLOYEES, AGENTS, OFFICERS, DIRECTORS, SHAREHOLDERS AND MEMBERS (EACH, AN “INDEMNIFIED PARTY” AND TOGETHER, THE “INDEMNIFIED PARTIES”) FROM AND AGAINST ANY AND ALL LIABILITIES, OBLIGATIONS, LOSSES, DAMAGES (BUT EXCLUDING SPECIAL, CONSEQUENTIAL OR PUNITIVE DAMAGES; PROVIDED, HOWEVER, IF AND TO THE EXTENT THAT ANY INDEMNIFIED PARTY SHALL HAVE SPECIAL, CONSEQUENTIAL OR PUNITIVE DAMAGES ASSERTED AGAINST IT AND/OR BE REQUIRED TO PAY ANY AMOUNT TO ANY THIRD PARTY ON ACCOUNT OF SPECIAL, CONSEQUENTIAL, OR PUNITIVE DAMAGES NOT ARISING BY REASON OF THE GROSS NEGLIGENCE OR WILLFUL MISCONDUCT OF SUCH PARTY, THEN SUCH AMOUNT SHALL BE DEEMED TO CONSTITUTE ACTUAL DAMAGES INCURRED BY SUCH INDEMNIFIED PARTY), PENALTIES, ACTIONS, JUDGMENTS, SUITS, CLAIMS, COSTS, ACTUAL EXPENSES AND DISBURSEMENTS OF ANY KIND OR NATURE WHATSOEVER (INCLUDING REASONABLE FEES AND DISBURSEMENTS OF OUTSIDE COUNSEL FOR LENDER IN CONNECTION WITH ANY ADMINISTRATIVE OR JUDICIAL PROCEEDING COMMENCED OR THREATENED, WHETHER OR NOT SUCH INDEMNIFIED PARTY SHALL BE DESIGNATED A PARTY THERETO), THAT MAY BE IMPOSED ON, INCURRED BY, OR ASSERTED AGAINST SUCH INDEMNIFIED PARTY IN ANY MANNER TO THE EXTENT RELATING TO OR ARISING OUT OF (I) ANY BREACH BY BORROWER OF ITS OBLIGATIONS UNDER, OR ANY MISREPRESENTATION BY BORROWER CONTAINED IN, THIS AGREEMENT OR THE OTHER LOAN DOCUMENTS; (II) THE USE OR INTENDED USE OF THE PROCEEDS OF THE LOAN; (III) ANY INFORMATION PROVIDED BY OR ON BEHALF OF BORROWER; (IV) OWNERSHIP OF THE MORTGAGE, THE PROPERTY, OR ANY INTEREST IN THE FOREGOING, OR RECEIPT OF ANY NET SALES PROCEEDS, RENTS OR OTHER GROSS REVENUE (INCLUDING DUE TO ANY INCREASED COSTS OR OTHER TAXES); (V) ANY ACCIDENT, INJURY TO OR DEATH OF PERSONS OR LOSS OF OR DAMAGE TO PROPERTY OCCURRING IN, ON OR ABOUT THE PROPERTY OR ON THE ADJOINING SIDEWALKS, CURBS, ADJACENT PROPERTY OR ADJACENT PARKING AREAS, STREETS OR WAYS; (VI) ANY USE, NONUSE OR CONDITION IN, ON OR ABOUT THE PROPERTY OR ON ADJOINING SIDEWALKS, CURBS, ADJACENT PROPERTY OR ADJACENT PARKING AREAS, STREETS OR WAYS; (VII) PERFORMANCE OF ANY LABOR OR SERVICES OR THE FURNISHING OF ANY MATERIALS OR OTHER PROPERTY BY OR ON BEHALF OF ANY BORROWER PARTY IN RESPECT OF THE PROPERTY; (VIII) ANY FAILURE OF THE PROPERTY TO COMPLY WITH ANY LEGAL REQUIREMENT; (IX) ANY CLAIM BY BROKERS, FINDERS OR SIMILAR PERSONS CLAIMING TO BE ENTITLED TO A COMMISSION IN CONNECTION WITH ANY LEASE, SALE OF AN ELEMENT OR OTHER TRANSACTION INVOLVING THE PROPERTY OR ANY PART THEREOF, OR ANY LIABILITY ASSERTED AGAINST LENDER WITH RESPECT THERETO; (X) THE CLAIMS OF ANY LESSEE OF ANY PORTION OF THE PROPERTY OR ANY PERSON ACTING THROUGH OR UNDER ANY LESSEE OR OTHERWISE ARISING UNDER OR AS A CONSEQUENCE OF ANY LEASE; (XI) ANY AND ALL CLAIMS OF ANY RESIDENTIAL UNIT OWNER OR PROPOSED PURCHASER OR LESSEE OF A RESIDENTIAL UNIT OR ANY PERSON ACTING THROUGH OR UNDER ANY SUCH OWNER OR PROPOSED PURCHASER OR LESSEE, AND (XII) AND ANY FAILURE TO PAY ANY PERMIT AND APPLICATION FEES, VIOLATIONS, FINES AND/OR ANY OTHER PENALTY INCURRED IN CONNECTION WITH OWNERSHIP, USE, LEASING AND/OR OPERATION OF THE PROPERTY (COLLECTIVELY, THE “INDEMNIFIED LIABILITIES”), INCLUDING, WITHOUT LIMITATION, ANY AND ALL INDEMNIFIED LIABILITIES ARISING FROM THE NEGLIGENCE OF AN INDEMNIFIED PARTY; PROVIDED, HOWEVER, THAT BORROWER SHALL NOT HAVE ANY OBLIGATION TO AN INDEMNIFIED PARTY HEREUNDER TO THE EXTENT THAT SUCH INDEMNIFIED LIABILITIES ARISE FROM THE GROSS NEGLIGENCE, ILLEGAL ACTS, FRAUD OR WILLFUL MISCONDUCT OF ANY INDEMNIFIED PARTY AS DETERMINED BY A FINAL NON-APPEALABLE JUDGMENT OF A COURT OF COMPETENT JURISDICTION WHICH SHALL ALSO HAVE THE AUTHORITY TO AWARD LEGAL FEES AGAINST THE INDEMNIFIED PARTY. TO THE EXTENT THAT THE UNDERTAKING TO INDEMNIFY, DEFEND AND HOLD HARMLESS SET FORTH IN THE PRECEDING SENTENCE MAY BE UNENFORCEABLE BECAUSE IT VIOLATES ANY LAW OR PUBLIC POLICY, BORROWER SHALL PAY THE MAXIMUM PORTION THAT IT IS PERMITTED TO PAY AND SATISFY UNDER APPLICABLE LEGAL REQUIREMENTS TO THE PAYMENT AND SATISFACTION OF ALL INDEMNIFIED LIABILITIES INCURRED BY EACH INDEMNIFIED PARTY.

 

Upon our arrival at Bilzin Sumberg we were informed that we all got mentors for the summer. The mentors are attorneys that are paired with each summer associate to help guide us throughout the summer with regard to assignments, networking, and everything in between.

Personally, I did not know how amazing building a relationship with my mentor, Kayla Hernandez, would be. I asked her serious questions about career planning, classes to take in law school, and ways to make my assignments the best they could be. I even asked her silly questions about what outfits to wear to after work summer events, and have enjoyed being able to grab dinner with her after work!

While reflecting on the strong relationships built with our mentors, some of my fellow summers had similarly great experiences. Here are some of their takeaways:

“My mentor Alex Barshel has given me advice on work product and billing questions, and overall made sure to make me feel included in the environmental group. I felt like I could go to her to ask any question I had, even if it was as simple as ‘Hey what type of shoes do you wear to work when you don’t wear high heels?’ or a more complicated question about how to write a Phase I environmental summary memo.” – Savannah Bergeron

“My mentor Stephanie Koutsodendris made me feel comfortable and welcome right away at Bilzin, and has helped me navigate my assignments throughout the summer.” –Megan Barney

“Throughout the entire summer, my mentor Ben Mitchel has always gone out of his way to give me his advice and support. He always took the time to answer any question I had. He’s a fantastic mentor and has become a great friend.” –Aaron Finkel

“My mentor Elise Holtzman Gerson has given me assignments that have really helped me gain more working knowledge in the Land Use space.” –Lucas Pizzutti

Overall, the mentor relationships that have been built during this summer have enhanced our experience navigating Bilzin Sumberg as well as our futures in the legal field, and we couldn’t be more thankful!

“What exactly does a Summer Associate do?”

I remember asking myself this question when I was in the process of applying to Bilzin Sumberg last year. Much has been written about the exciting social events we’ve been able to attend during our summer at the firm. Let’s switch gears for a moment and talk about the Summer Associate work experience.

Bilzin Sumberg’s summer program has allowed us to take on sophisticated, substantive work. Each of us has access to a web portal to which attorneys from each practice group post assignments on a weekly (and sometimes daily) basis. We are not required to choose assignments from a particular practice area; one of the benefits of our program is the flexibility to pursue our own unique interests and try new things. Once one of us “accepts” an assignment, we typically contact the assigning attorney to arrange an introductory meeting. During that meeting, we set a timeline for the project and narrow down any important details. From there, we get to work. Throughout the process of working on our assignments, we benefit from the support of the excellent and experienced Bilzin Sumberg law librarians, along with a range of cutting-edge research technologies. Once we complete an assignment, we receive feedback from the assigning attorney.

Beyond research and writing assignments, there are plenty of “tag-alongs” during which we accompany the firm’s attorneys at meetings, on calls, or even in court. These have been exciting opportunities to observe and learn.

My colleagues and I have certainly been busy this summer. For example, Savannah Bergeron recently wrote a thought leadership piece on new legislation, reviewed loan modification agreements, and drafted a memorandum as part of a motion to dismiss in an ongoing antitrust matter. This past week, Ridgana Bonne-Annee and Teodora Maftei observed Scott Wagner and Ilana Drescher deliver oral arguments at the Broward County Courthouse. And just a few days ago, all of us were invited to a legal drafting seminar hosted by Martin Schwartz, and an intellectual property seminar hosted by Jose Sariego.

My own personal assignments have ranged from conducting case law research to drafting limited partnership agreements as part of a corporate restructuring project. Currently, I am in the process of drafting a portion of a federal appellate brief. I’ve also had the chance to sit in on calls with Mitchell Widom (litigation) and Robert Lee (corporate), observe a virtual hearing with Kenneth Duvall (litigation), and sit in on Jake Greenberg’s (litigation) consultation with a client in preparation for a deposition.

Our work experience has been challenging yet enriching. Through our assignments and “tag-alongs,” we’ve been able to work with skilled attorneys, sharpen our legal research and writing skills, and learn more about the everyday practice of law. I look forward to our remaining two weeks as Summer Associates and cannot wait to see what interesting areas of the law I am privileged to explore next.

Often, we think something is easy, until it is time to put our money where our mouth is. For me, cooking is a skill that I (thought) I had, so imagine my surprise when the Corporate Practice Group hosted a Mystery Basket Cook Off for the Summer Associates, where we were given random ingredients and told to create a meal off the top of our heads. If you are anything like myself, you are usually the type of person who decides what to cook, AND THEN you purchase the necessary ingredients. It is a completely different story when you are provided ingredients and instructed to create a delicious meal.

(L to R David Resnick, Ariana Wagner, Savannah Bergeron, Megan Barney and Erin Stafford)

We arrived at the Miami Dade Culinary Institute, split into four teams, and were off to the kitchen to cook a meal that would be judged by three top chefs at the institute. The catch: surprise ingredients, no recipes, and no Google!

When we entered the kitchen, each station had a basket full of vegetables, couscous, steak, and shrimp. Each team had 75 minutes to work together to produce a recipe using those ingredients. Here is what each team made:

(L to R Jessica Buchsbaum, Ridgana Bonne-Annee and Aaron Finkel)

Team 1: bacon-wrapped filet, shrimp scampi, manchego couscous, sautéed mushrooms, and a garden salad.
Team 2: filet on top of a bed of couscous, mushrooms, a zesty shrimp salad, and potato leek soup.
Team 3: filet, leek mashed potatoes, a kale carrot slaw, and a couscous and shrimp stir-fry.
Team 4: filet on top of a bed of broth-infused couscous, side of shrimp, and a tomato salad.

Finally, it was time to put our dishes to the test. The judges tasted our dishes and returned with commentary and critiques. Thankfully, we ate dinner that was cooked by the REAL chefs because the critique was of enough influence to encourage you to take a break away from the kitchen. In the end, Team 1 took home the championship (it may have had something to do with the bacon that mysteriously appeared on the plate).

Even though that was not my team, I still felt like a winner on the inside because the team-building aspect and friendly banter was priceless. However, if it’s one thing this event taught me, it’s that my favorite thing to make for dinner should be reservations.

(L to R Alex Haller and Alani Fraga)

The American Bar Association’s Model Rules of Professional Conduct has a preamble that describes a lawyer as “an officer of the legal system and a public citizen having special responsibility for the quality of justice.” Though I’ve only been working at Bilzin Sumberg for six weeks now as a summer associate, I can confidently say that Bilzin ensures that all of its attorneys and staff truly take that special responsibility for the quality of justice seriously.

In addition to being engaged in the community through the “Bilzin Sumberg Cares” initiative, which includes community service events like the Beach Cleanup and the upcoming Bilzin Sumberg Cares Project Day at the Family Resource Center of South Florida, all members of the firm, including summer associates, are encouraged to give back to the community by taking up pro bono matters for a variety of non-profit organizations and for communities and individuals in need in the Miami area and beyond.

As a rising 2L, I didn’t think that I’d have a chance to take up pro bono matters so early in my career. Fortunately, though, the attorneys at Bilzin made sure to include the summer associates in some of their efforts to serve the community.

Because of this, I’m happy to say that the other summer associates and I have been able to do substantive legal work for organizations that truly make a difference in the community. Some projects we’ve assisted with include:

(1) Researching legislation for an organization that stands against gun violence, with Philip Stein and Ken Duvall.
(2) Attending meetings with the Cuban American Bar Association to assist with a project that helps minors, especially those who were abused or came to America alone, receive their citizenship, with Raquel Fernandez, Ben Mitchel, and Brianna Sainte.
(3) Advising a local church on how it may retain its zoning status for community housing, with David Jessup, Jr. and Andrés Rivero.
(4) Attending meetings with and researching for a national non-profit on a matter related to education policy in Florida and Georgia, with Raquel Fernandez, Adrian Felix, and David Jessup, Jr.

These opportunities are just a small sample of all the good work Bilzin does year-round. When I go back to school this fall and my peers ask what I did, I’ll of course be thrilled to talk about the fascinating work I’ve been able to do in general throughout the summer, but I’ll especially be proud to talk about the pro bono work I’ve done, too. From my first day at the firm until now, I am certainly proud to be judged by the company we keep here at Bilzin.

Having lived in the nation’s capital for the past two years, I’ve grown used to a huge Fourth of July celebration. This year was the first major Fourth of July celebration in Miami since the start of the pandemic and my first Fourth of July in Miami ever. I’m sure it does not come as a surprise that Miami is a fantastic place to be for the Fourth of July.

Of course, I spent the day at the beach…where else would I be? Luckily, Mother Nature blessed Miami with perfect sunny weather and not a cloud in the sky. After a long day in the sun, I eventually made my way to Bayfront Park for the Fireworks. I did not think anything could top the fireworks at the National Mall where the fireworks explode amongst the Capital, Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial. It turns out that the fireworks in Miami do hold a [roman] candle—huge and dazzling!

As I mentioned, I spent the Fourth on the beach (for the first time in years). This was nostalgic for me because spending the day at the beach was one of my family’s Fourth of July traditions growing up. A few of the other summers weighed in on their favorite Fourth of July traditions:

“One of my favorite Fourth of July traditions is the airboat race held out in the everglades, it’s the best to be out in nature”-Savannah
“I enjoy sitting out by the pool and watching fireworks. The best Fourth food is hotdogs!”-Sarah
“Making s’mores is my favorite Fourth of July tradition” –Ariana
“My favorite thing about the Fourth is that it reminds you to be grateful to have grown up in this country”-Lucas

I’ve learned that the last statement is a sentiment shared by many people in Miami. In most of the country, the Fourth of July is a day about barbeques, sparklers, and fireworks with family and friends. In Miami, the holiday has a unique significance. Many (maybe most) people who live here either immigrated to the United States or have a parent or grandparent who did. It is evident that, here, it’s a holiday about being grateful for the freedom and the opportunity that can be found in this country and about being conscious of those who do not have those same privileges. For that reason, and many others, it’s a special place to be. I’ll never forget my first Fourth of July in Miami!

If there’s one skill that is crucial to your success as a Summer Associate, it’s managing your time wisely. If you are a procrastinator and like the thrill of getting things done at the 11th hour, you might want to kick that habit! Assignments may start to roll in slowly at first, which may lull you into a false sense of security, but soon enough you’ll be juggling plenty of different projects. Ideally, you would want to get ahead on a project, providing a quick turnaround for the partner or associate you are working with. This not only shows that you’ve made their assignment a priority, but also that you are eager to learn as much as you can during your time here. In doing so, you will also open yourself up to more opportunities.

Also, never discount small intervals of time where you might be free. 15 minutes here, 20 minutes there, it might not seem like much, but they add up. Use these moments efficiently, by perhaps making some headway on an assignment. That way, when you come back to it the next time you’ll have made some progress and can pick right back up from where you left it. These intervals also provide an opportunity to make connections with your new colleagues. Check in with people and make yourself available. Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself to attorneys who may have their door open. Early in the summer, they’re usually keen to meet the summer class and are willing to take a moment for a quick chat. Take advantage of the first couple of weeks of the summer to build relations, you never what doors they may open in the future.

Time management also means keeping a well-organized calendar. It is incredibly important to keep track of appointments and other commitments. For one, always check your calendar before setting down any concrete plans. There are a plenty of work events, lunches, and organized outings as a Summer Associate, and it can be hard to keep track of them all. Use your calendar as much as possible to make sure that you aren’t overloading your days. There’s nothing worse than having to cancel on someone because you accidentally double-booked yourself.

Last, but definitely not least, make some time for yourself. Don’t leave for tomorrow what can be done today, but by that same token, make sure you take care of yourself. In the evenings, give yourself plenty of time to wind down so that you can get a good night of sleep. Carve out time to exercise, at least a couple times a week, to help ensure you’ll be physically and mentally prepared for the day.

Other than that, there’s not much else to it. Law school prepares you to manage a significant workload, but the office provides its own unique set of challenges. I hope these tips can shed some light on how to best navigate those challenges and prove useful to you during your summer. Oh, and before I forget, don’t overlook the importance of checking in with your friends and family, they’ll be eager for an update on how your summer is going!

Last week, the land-use group had their summer event, a boat tour of Biscayne Bay and Stiltsville with History Miami’s resident historian, Dr. Paul George. We all met up at the marina at Bayside, hopped on a boat, and off we went. As soon as we pulled out of the marina, Dr. George began discussing the long and fascinating history of downtown Miami, beginning with Bayfront park. For example, did you know that President Franklin D. Roosevelt gave a speech at Bayfront shortly after he was elected, and at that speech, someone in the crowd fired five shots towards the stands? Luckily the president was uninjured, but the Mayor of Chicago, who was in attendance, was mortally wounded. As we sailed south into the mouth of the Miami River in Brickell, Dr. George discussed the history of development in Miami, pointing out many of the shiny buildings and upcoming developments in the Brickell area. What was very entertaining was the fact that Bilzin land use attorneys were involved in almost every building or development pointed out by Dr. George. As we circled back from the mouth of the river, Dr. George pointed out one of, if not the oldest, archeological site in south Florida, the Miami Circle. It was the first evidence of prehistorical human presence in the Miami area; it has been dated to about 2,000 years ago! Hopefully, at least that part of the Brickell area will remain undeveloped.

Next we sailed south along the coast as Dr. George explained the history of Virginia Key and Key Biscayne. Interestingly the two areas were originally a coconut plantation, but when industrialist named William J. Matheson bought the land, he began developing it for residential living. In fact, much of the land in the north and south end of the Key was donated by the Matheson family to create what is now Crandon and Bill Baggs Park. An interesting tidbit was that fact that during the Nixon administration, the president had a home in Key Biscayne where he spent much of his time. So much so, that is was unofficially called the Winter White House. Finally as we passed the southern tip of Bill Baggs Park, we could see Stiltsville. The first structure out in the Biscayne Bay was built in the early 1930’s and over time a small community of stilted structures appeared, forming a bohemian community of sorts. There were 27 bars, casinos, and even residences at its peak, but after many years, and many hurricanes, only 6 structures remain. The area is now managed by the Stiltsville trust, and you can even book a stay in one of the structures for a fee; seems like a good idea for the next summer event!