In Pursuit of the Infinity Properties the Inevitable Summer War: Phase I
We are at war. Today was the first battle negotiation in the summer program’s Mock Real Estate Negotiation. While this is something all of us looked forward to with great anticipation, I must admit that I looked towards this programing quite nervously. As law students, we seldom get an opportunity experience transactional practice. The prospect of early exposure to this world is thrilling, but the prospect of doing poorly, even in a simulated environment, is not (remember, I am a law student – the world must never learn that we do sometimes do things imperfectly). Fortunately, my fear was warrantless. You see, I have the great fortune of spending my summer with Bilzin Sumberg – they had us covered. We would learn what it means to live in the world of transactional practice through the Mock Real Estate Negotiation.
The exposure to transactional practice was not a weird version of Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, where I would deny the existence of anything outside of litigation focused law practice simply because that is all I have seen so far. To the contrary, we felt completely supported as the amazing brain trust that put this together (Jessica, Betsi, Adam, and Phil) showed us what the next few weeks would look like.
The first meeting was a general overview led by Adam and Phil of what a real estate transaction looks like from beginning to end, from developing the core business terms to preparing the closing binder. The next day, it was game time (Endgame time?). It was time to get into the conference room and negotiate to the death for an hour. The good news is that we were not alone. Sara and Ali coached either team STARK, LLC (the buyer) or team INEVITABLE, LLC (the seller). We first met with our coaches to discuss a game plan and then we executed that plan in our negotiation. After the negotiation, we changed from our superhero uniforms back into our work clothes (obviously) and began drafting the letter of intent.
While it is still early in the programming, I think it is worth expressing the value of this mock negotiation for us as summer associates. I walked away with three concepts from this exercise, (i) substantive exposure to a new area of the law; (ii) team building with my awesome summer class; and (iii) a reminder of how intentional Bilzin Sumberg is at equipping their team for success.
In law school, we get so little exposure to transactional work that it makes it hard for us to gauge where we think we would be a good fit. We can spend as much time as we want on Above the Law or Vault but the reality remains – nothing compares to doing the actual work. This is what the programing sets its sights on. The Real Estate Mock Negotiation exposes us to what is quite literally the other half of the entire profession. More importantly, we get the full experience.
The Mock Negotiation simulates an entire transaction from beginning to end. While it is true that some law students can get exposure to negotiations in their second or third year, it is rarely the case that a single course offers both multiple negotiations on the same transaction and the corresponding drafting exercises. In fact, even as a summer associate it is difficult to gain exposure to a deal from beginning to end. Bilzin Sumberg clearly saw this deficiency and mobilized towards filling this gap. Despite meeting only twice so far, I already feel better prepared to understand the core parts of a real estate transaction. The Mock Real Estate Negotiation: Phase I (Marvel reference) has given me a new point of reference to look to when reflecting on the type of practice I want to go into. The good news is that this summer I have an opportunity to rotate through Bilzin Sumberg‘s impressive transactional practice (Corporate; Environmental; Finance; Hospitality; International; Public-Private Partnerships; Real Estate; and Tax).
The mock negotiation not only exposes us transactional work, it also helps us come together as a group. Although we are technically on different teams, the goal is to work together to push this deal through. Unlike the movie (no spoilers, but seriously have you not seen how well this movie is doing?), there are no winners or losers during the Mock Negotiation. The only way we lose is by not being collaborative. This collaboration manifests itself not just in the negotiations but also in the post negotiation drafting.
After our hour long negotiation on the core business terms, all of us reunited in one office to record the deal in a letter of intent (Franco and I wondered why our office had six chairs). This exercise was valuable not just for the sake of producing a document evincing our hard work, but also for working closely with one another to produce something we are proud to call our own. Working as a team to draft the letter of intent was a genuinely fun time (and we learned that in an ideal world, nectarines are more readily available than peaches). One of the most enjoyable aspects of law school is learning from your peers, it is encouraging to know that Bilzin Sumberg is intentional in fostering that same level of collaboration for their summer associates.
This brings me to my final point; Bilzin Sumberg is intentional. The mock negotiation is yet another element in a reoccurring theme highlighting how intentional Bilzin Sumberg is about equipping us for success. It would have been very easy for the brain trust to pull a generic simulated negotiation from the internet, recirculate it throughout the each new summer, and call it good. This is not the Bilzin Sumberg way. It is abundantly clear that Jessica, Betsi, Adam, Phil, Sara, and Ali all worked very hard to create a tailored experience for us. And I am not just saying that because they put my face on Bruce Banner’s body – Bilzin Sumberg truly cares about people. This was not an exercise in repetition but rather a product of Bilzin Sumberg‘s intentional goal of preparing us for the future.
With that, all that’s left to say is that I am incredibly excited for the next few weeks of growth and development.