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.

With Week 2 underway and our time as summer associates ramping up, now is a good time to reflect on some of the events we attended towards the end of the whirlwind that was Week 1. After going through orientation and various trainings over our first two days, we began work on our first assignments on Wednesday. Given our neophyte status within the practice of law and our desire to develop strong practices from the beginning of our careers, Wednesday evening we were introduced to the library staff. Our firm’s Chief Knowledge Officer, Paul VanderMeer and the rest of the library team demonstrated for us all of the resources available at Bilzin Sumberg. However, this was not your typical night hitting the books; as we watched a presentation about the firm’s vast knowledge management system and were educated us as to how we can best take advantage of it, we enjoyed a Happy Hour with the staff. There is no question that what we learned will be invaluable to us as we move forward in our careers at Bilzin Sumberg.

Newly armed with more detailed knowledge on how best to attack our assignments, we truly dove in on Thursday before being treated to lunch on Thursday afternoon. The firm’s first-year associates, Elise Holtzman and Jennifer Llano, took the five summer associates out to lunch at Fi’lia, the restaurant at the SLS (conveniently located one block from our firm’s beautiful offices). Over some great pasta, Elise and Jennifer regaled us with tales of their time as summer associates and gave us practical advice on a host of relevant topics. We had a very enjoyable time and even managed to stay dry on the way back to work! Continue Reading A Sweet Start to Summer!

The Summer Associates have arrived on deck and the 2018 Summer Program is in full swing! As a returning Summer Associate here at Bilzin Sumberg, I am especially excited to be back. I am also very grateful to work alongside such talented colleagues again.

Our schedule early this week consisted of various orientation events—including lessons on firm history, billing, and efficient use of the firm information management systems. Bilzin Sumberg provides various resources and a very strong support staff to ensure that everyone within the team succeeds during the summer and beyond.

On our second day at Bilzin Sumberg, we attended the first major social event of the summer: the traditional firm welcome reception. Each of us is assigned an attorney mentor for the summer, and one of their responsibilities is to officially introduce us to the entire firm at the reception. After being hailed aboard by our mentors, we then took the opportunity to socialize with all of the attorneys and staff.

While it is important for us to network and build camaraderie early on, it is also important for us to gain practical experience and develop our legal skills. Bilzin Sumberg provides the foundation to do so. As Summer Associates, we have already had invaluable opportunities to take on a diverse array of projects from virtually every practice group. We may also take the initiative to seek out specific projects when available.

Again: having been here last summer, I am especially grateful to be back—and I look forward to the weeks ahead!

 

No first day jitters here! (L to R, Lucas, Brianna, Devin, Eric & Ben)

We are so excited to welcome our 2018 Summer Associates. I wanted to take a moment to officially introduce them on the blog.  Right after orientation, they will be sharing the next nine weeks with you here!  We can’t wait to see what the summer. . .although, we are hoping for a little less rain here in Miami.

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.