This past Monday we experienced a wonderful opportunity to give back to our local community by volunteering at the Chapman Partnership‘s Miami Homeless Assistance Center. The Chapman Partnership provides food and shelter to approximately 5,000 homeless individuals and families on an annual basis. These homeless centers also assist with job training, job placement, and securing housing.

The Bilzin Sumberg team took part in fulfilling the Chapman Partnership‘s mission by serving meals, waiting tables, and maintaining the kitchen and cafeteria. It was an extraordinarily humbling experience for all of us, and we met absolutely amazing people who are seeking to build a brighter future for themselves and their families.

I personally met one such individual: a 16-year old local high school student who aspires to become an attorney one day. Speaking with this individual was very inspiring, and he maintained an extraordinarily positive outlook on his future despite his current challenges.

Bilzin Sumberg takes great pride in giving back to the local community on a regular basis, and I am proud to take part in this effort.

 

(L to R, Ben, Devin, Brianna, Lucas & Eric)

Unbelievable as it may seem to myself and the other 2018 Bilzin Sumberg summer associates, we are officially more than halfway through the program! Thus far, the summer has been full of exciting events, interesting assignments, and a multitude of opportunities to network with attorneys and develop our skills. One such opportunity came last Wednesday as we took a trip on the newly-operational Brightline train with members of the Real Estate and Land Use Practice Groups. Though at this point we have met almost all of the attorneys at the firm, the chance to get to spend time with them in a more intimate setting was extremely valuable and enjoyable. To start our voyage, Eric and I rode Miami’s Metro Mover, conveniently located just a block from Bilzin Sumberg‘s beautiful offices (and next to our favorite restaurant, Novecento), over to the Brightline station to catch our train from Miami to Fort Lauderdale. When we arrived, we met the rest of our group in the luxurious Select Lounge, where we enjoyed complimentary refreshments before boarding the train. Continue Reading The Summer (And the Train) Goes Flying By!

(L to R, Jessica, Eric, Lucas, Ben, Devin and Brianna)

Bilzin Sumberg provides opportunities to work together to benefit charitable organizations in South Florida and beyond.  The firm’s strong commitment to the community has constantly been conveyed.  This past Friday, our summer associate class took a break from assignments and volunteered at Feeding South Florida (FSF).  FSF is the sole Feeding America food bank serving Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade, and Monroe Counties; they have the largest service area in the state, serving 25% of the state’s food insecure population and rescuing 46 million pounds of food per year.

Once we arrived to the sorting warehouse, we had orientation and got separated into 4 groups: inspectors, runners, sorters, and builders.  The Bilzin Sumberg volunteers were inspectors, managing three tables in the inspection room.  We examined the donated food, threw out unusable food, and called for a runner to bring our inspected box to the sorters, who classified food into categories.  Lastly, we were provided with the number of meals we helped provide to families in need of food assistance that day, which was—drum roll, please—a whopping 35,000 meals.

 

To finish up another amazing week, Eric Singer invited the summer associates to go sailing together on Saturday.  During the trip, we saw the beautiful Miami skyline and the historical houses of Stiltsville.  His sailboat is great, the Miami views are great, but Eric is even greater for thinking to include us!  Thanks again, Eric!

 

Brianna Sainte
(L to R, Lucas, Brianna, Devin & Ben)

Yesterday the Summer Associates joined the Litigation Group for a culinary and art tour in Wynwood. Wynwood is a neighborhood to the north of Downtown Miami that is known for its vibrant street art and incredible restaurants. Our tour started with the iconic Wynwood Walls. We saw murals from Shepard Fairey (creator of the Obama “Hope” poster), Kenny Scharf, Ron English, and many more. Admittedly ignorant of street art, I never viewed it as a “real” form of art. But on seeing the detail and the speed in which these artists create their works (each mural is created within a week!), my perspective immediately changed. A highlight of the tour was when Jerry Goldsmith, a litigation associate and lover of the arts, added his own eye-opening commentary on Lady Pink‘s mural, titled Resist. I also loved learning more about Wynwood, a neighborhood that has completely changed in the past decade.

We then proceeded to enjoy a wonderful meal at GK Bistronomie, a Peruvian restaurant. There, we ate lomo saltado, ceviche, and sipped on margaritas and Peruvian Moscow Mules. We ended the night with Italian gelato at Gelatte. Last night was a great time and really showed that the attorneys within litigation department at Bilzin Sumberg are both colleagues and friends.

 

 

While trying a real case in court won’t happen for at least a few years, Benjamin, Devin, and I had the opportunity to visit the Miami-Dade County Courthouse on our first tag-along of the summer! Of counsel at the firm, Michael E. Strauch, was gracious enough to invite us on his trip to the courthouse. With his focus being the Commercial Litigation practice at Bilzin Sumberg, Michael was on his way to meet with a judge on a case he is working on. After a quick trip on the Metro Mover and a five minute walk, we were before the courthouse. The courthouse previously served as the county jail, a fun fact that Michael informed us of as we headed up the stairs leading to the entrance.

Once inside the 100-year old courthouse, we made our way in a historic elevator to the judge’s chambers. Once there, we were told that the particular judge we came to see was momentarily out and would be back within a 20-minute window. As such, we took the opportunity to witness an ongoing jury trial happening in the next room. With Michael leading the way, we quietly slipped inside the courtroom and took our seats in the back. The trial turned out to be a civil one in which the wife of the decedent was suing a tobacco company for wrongful death.  The wife’s husband died from lung cancer. As one would expect, a team of lawyers for the tobacco company sat to our left, each of them surrounded with laptops and boxes full of paper. We took our seats on the same side as the wife’s lawyer and furthest to the right sat a jury of six of her peers.  Interestingly, we came in during the middle of a direct examination of the wife in which she told her story of her husband’s long term battle of smoking addiction.  After about 15 minutes, we all returned to the judge’s chambers so that Michael could speak with the judge.

After the discussion was over, the four of us headed back to the office and reflected on our visit. For us three summer associates, it was the first time we had visited that particular courthouse, and I believe I speak for all of us when I say that we were lucky to have had that first experience at Bilzin Sumberg!

 

Towards the conclusion of last week, the 2018 Bilzin Sumberg summer associates began one of the stages of the annual summer associate program: the real estate mock transaction. This exercise will take us through all of the stages of an actual real estate transaction while providing us with a practical dose of legal practice as we take on the roles of buyer, seller, and each parties’ respective attorneys. I will be representing Devin and Lucas, who will serve as the buyers, and Eric will be representing Brianna, who will play the role of our seller. Our fact pattern is (loosely) based on the recent Marvel Avenger’s Infinity War movie, with the buyer’s working to purchase the last “Infinity Stone property” from the seller Thanos’ holding company, “THE BAD GUY LLC”. Devin, Lucas, and I are the only thing standing between Thanos and world domination! As per usual, Jessica Bucshbaum and Betsi Cobas did an outstanding job making the exercise especially interesting by creating a fun scenario for us.

Continue Reading Some Friendly Competition for World Domination

It feels like we just started the Summer Associate Program yesterday, but we are already in our third week here at Bilzin Sumberg! During the past three weeks, each of us has had the opportunity to work on a diverse array of assignments from multiple practice groups. Some of these projects include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Lucas and Ben are working on a summer-long project with Andrej Micovic and Eric Singer from the Government Relations & Land Development Practice Group. Their assignment involves reviewing the procurement process for public-private partnerships and updating the relevant white papers.
  • Devin is working with Jay Sakalo from the Business Finance & Restructuring Practice Group. Her assignment involves researching the legal protections tenants are entitled to before the landlord files for bankruptcy and what the post-filing implications are for the tenants.
  • Brianna is working with Melissa Pallett-Vasquez and Lori Lustrin from the Litigation Practice Group. Her assignment involves analyzing and organizing court opinions and orders that reference favorable expert testimony regarding a product labeling case.
  • Finally, I am working with Jennifer Llano from the Corporate Practice Group. My assignment involves conducting due diligence for a corporate acquisition. My specific tasks include reviewing a Stock Purchase Agreement, analyzing the relevant corporate documents of the seller, and updating the Disclosure Schedule Form.

Although our development as Summer Associates primarily includes honing our legal research, writing, and transactional skills, it also includes honing our acquired tastes in fine wine.

This week, we accomplished that goal by spending the evening with the Tax, Trusts & Estates Practice Group, which graciously hosted us at Abaco Wines & Wine Bar in the Miami Design District. We enjoyed our evening conversing with the attorneys over glasses of Rose and Pinot Noir (with a collection of complimentary cheeses, of course).

But perhaps the biggest takeaway from these events is developing long-lasting personal and professional relationships. Throughout the summer, we will attend professional networking events similar to the wine bar social gathering this week. These are important because they give us an opportunity to really get to know the people here at Bilzin Sumberg. And in a firm setting, developing these relationships will go a long way.

Our first two weeks at Bilzin Sumberg surpassed all expectations!

On Thursday, May 24th, we participated in one of the numerous opportunities the firm offers to give back to the community. The firm supported Red Nose Day, an international fundraising campaign dedicated to ending child poverty. After donating, we were all invited to clown around for a good cause at a photo booth filled with props—including crowns, taco hats, and, of course, red noses. From day one, everyone has highlighted the significance of being involved through the Bilzin Sumberg Cares initiative, and Thursday was yet another example of the firm’s commitment to philanthropy.

Bilzin Sumberg not only empowers us to give back, they invest in our development to become better lawyers. Our Friday WestLaw training session included lessons on how to: find court filing rules and checklists, compare law across jurisdictions, and craft a systematic research approach. I appreciate that if I ever get stuck in my research for an assignment, there will be a small army of people to help me get on the right track; I have never felt overwhelmed, just encouraged and supported. Through substantive training programs and day-to-day legal practice support, Bilzin Sumberg fosters efficiency to ensure our success. I’m looking forward to the upcoming seven weeks!

 

(L to R, Eric, Devin & Lucas)

As the training phase of the summer program winds down, the Summer Associates are busy at work! We are currently working on a variety of projects assigned by attorneys from each practice group. Bilzin Sumberg has an assignment pool system that makes it very easy to work in the practice group of your choice and take on assignments that you never thought you would enjoy (or even knew existed)! I am currently working on projects in the Bankruptcy, Land Use & Zoning, Commercial Mortgage-Backed Securities (“CMBS“), and Commercial Litigation groups. As a 1L, this flexibility will allow me to find my passion in the law and have a concrete understanding of what each attorney does at the firm day-to-day. 

Bilzin Sumberg also has many mentorship opportunities that allow us to connect with lawyers throughout the firm. Continue Reading Training and Mentorship is the Name of the Game

It’s the middle of week 2 here at Bilzin Sumberg and things are starting to get serious. Now to be clear, the daily outings to lunch with a partner or associate are still in full swing and heavily taken advantage of, just served with a side of real world advice. On Monday, partner at the firm Jay Sakalo, took myself and two other summer associates out to lunch to the ever popular PM restaurant directly across the street. While discussions of baseball, football, and the real housewives were had, the topic of client acquisition was also touched upon. Jay Sakalo explained how Bilzin Sumberg prides itself in ensuring the social growth and networking capabilities of each of its associates. He explained the firm’s many programs designed to help associates foster relationships within the community that can then lead to business ventures in the future. I found this to be comforting as a summer associate seeing as how client acquisition is rarely talked about at school, and I therefore have little knowledge on the topic despite its importance in the legal world.

As if also sensing the written assignments we all had due, the firm’s summer associate legal writing program was held just in the nick of time. On both Monday and Tuesday, we had the pleasure of working with Susan McCloskey on our legal writing skills both in a general sense as well as through individual feedback. The other summer associates and I participated in several group exercises that included revising and editing excerpts under the guidance of McCloskey. With all of us working on major assignments and seeing how our writing assignments are impacting the cases we are working on, the work we did with Susan was much appreciated. All of the techniques we learned were so helpful and really had an impact on the way I plan to approach future writing assignments for the rest of the summer and my legal career.

Finally, I, along with two other summer associates, went out to lunch with associates Salomé Bascuñan and Sean M. Gleason.  As the host jokingly commented “welcome back,” we were seated at a table with a view of the outside terrace of PM restaurant. Topics ranged from childhood summer vacations in Chile and Haiti to Sean M. Gleason‘s stint in the Peace Corps.  More importantly, however, was Salomé Bascuñan and Sean Gleason‘s discussion of the different practice areas within the firm and specifically their experiences in the real estate group at Bilzin Sumberg. What was really great was their encouragement for us to participate in each practice group through assignments. It is such a nice feeling to know that Bilzin Sumberg allows us to explore multiple practices areas that we might be interested in and doesn’t box us into one practice group for the entire summer. With that thought in mind, I am truly excited for the projects ahead of me.