Summer Associate, Brian Trujillo

Last night, the summer associates joined alumni from previous summer associate classes at Two Chefs for a group cooking class. Having about fifteen people work together to make a full dinner with starters, entrées, and desserts sounds more chaotic than it really was. Quite frankly, not only was the process of banding together to cook a great meal a smooth one, it was also a deeply enjoyable one.

Unlike what you see in Hell’s Kitchen, cooking as a team is actually incredibly enjoyable. Admittedly, it probably helped that Gordon Ramsay wasn’t breathing down our necks critiquing our food as being “stone cold.” Side note, I am the biggest Gordon Ramsay fan in town, but I’ll happily keep my distance from him in the kitchen, thank you very much. I much prefer the experience we had last night.

The timing was perfect. Right before the big move to the Magic City I set a goal of improving my culinary skills. So, it helps that yesterday I learned how to make the most amazing tostones combo imaginable (tostones, avocado, and salmon). Also, I have it on good authority that my tostones were “cooked to perfection” (as Ramsay would say). To be fair, the dish I made had no more than 3 ingredients. But still, I did okay.

Perhaps more important than the good food and wine was the company, and we were surrounded by some of the best company you can ask for. The conversation topics ranged from asking Alexandra Barshel about how to avoid major kitchen failures to Jennifer Junger’s Instagram page for her new puppy. Lauren Sabella and Luis Reyes talked to us about making the transition from summer associate to associate. They also emphasized the importance of being intentional about enjoying periods of rest as they come. The time spent together was centered around simply enjoying each other’s company, and it was perfect.

On par with Bilzin Sumberg’s theme of equipping us for the future, it goes without saying that I learned a lot last night. Sure, I walked out feeling like my tostones were going to land me my first Michelin star. However, I also learned a lot about the people around me. I learned that this community extends far beyond a work relationship; Bilzin Sumberg is truly a place for deep meaningful relationships. I also came to fully appreciate the fact that we are genuinely welcomed and supported by everyone here.

So, while it is true that the summer associate alumni event at Two Chefs can be a great excuse to perfect our chocolate soufflé making skills (Jay Sakalo), I know that the purpose is for us to be intentional about setting a time to build community and break bread as a family.



Above-left: Frankie, my sous-chef, clearly jealous of my culinary prowess (my artisanal flatbread, seen here, was unanimously crowned “dish of the night”)

We’ve been told from day one that Bilzin Sumberg hires summer associates with the intent that they will one day become partners at the Firm. While this may sound too good to be true, attendance at last night’s dinner event exemplifies Bilzin Sumberg’s dedication to retaining the highly qualified attorneys that began their careers here as summer associates.

In addition to the 2016 summer associate stars, the event’s guest list included prominent members of previous summer classes, such as Leah Aaronson, Desiree Fernandez, Jerry Goldsmith, Jared Spector, Shalia Sakona, Lori Lustrin, Mildred Gomez, and Jeff Snyder. The night was made even more special thanks to guest appearances from Jessica Buchsbaum and Jay Sakalo who, while not summer associates at Bilzin Sumberg themselves, are certainly honorary members of the 2016 class.

Two Chefs Restaurant describes the private-party cooking class as a “cooking adventure… under the guidance of a chef… designed to build camaraderie while honing your cooking skills.” This description, while accurate, omits the wine that was certainly responsible for some of the more “imaginative” artisanal flatbread topping combinations. Other culinary highlights of the evening included pecan crusted lump crab cake, ahi tuna tartare, stuffed mushroom caps, Caesar salad, toasted quinoa, grilled salmon, and grilled New York strip steak (as if we weren’t already fed well enough). Continue Reading Two Chefs (But We’ve Got Us A Few Here)

Last night, there was no such thing as too many cooks in the kitchen! After work, the Bilzin Sumberg 2023 Summer Associates and alumni of past Summer Associate classes trekked together to partake in a cooking class – and it was no doubt one of the highlights of our summer experience thus far.

With assistance (and a lot of it) from the Two Chefs chefs, we partnered up to create several incredible dishes, including but not limited to: quinoa and veggies, mini sliders, tuna tartare, mashed potatoes, a variety of flatbreads (special shout out to Skye, Sanika, and Savannah – these were delicious), and my personal favorite – Shalia and Kayla’s chocolate soufflé! Melissa, our fearless Hiring Partner, had a hit with her stuffed mushrooms, and Hannah and Elise’s churrasco was also a fan favorite. Meanwhile, Carlos was thriving on photography duty! Throughout the night we enjoyed various appetizers and drinks as we cooked, and chatted about our individual summer experiences, fun events to come, and of course, a little bit of what we are working on in the office! To wrap up the evening, we took the culinary creations we had crafted to the dining room and ate together.

After just a short few weeks here, I can see why Bilzin Sumberg is “Proud to be Judged by the Company We Keep.” The assignments have been thought-provoking, the social events have been lively, and you truly can’t beat working in Brickell; but the people are what unequivocally make the place here. It has been both humbling and inspiring to work alongside my fellow summer associates, all of us coming from schools across the country and with interests across the legal field; it has been equally motivating and constantly educational to learn from talented attorneys who are so happy to mentor us in their areas of expertise. The team here has already welcomed us with open arms and made us feel like part of the Bilzin Sumberg family, and we cannot wait to see what the rest of the summer holds!

(L to R Alani Fraga, Aaron Finkel and Lazaro Gonzalez)

Last Thursday evening, Bilzin Sumberg’s 2022 Summer Associates donned aprons and took part in an interactive cooking demonstration at Two Chefs. With the help of the restaurant’s cooks, we each prepared a dish for our group’s dinner. The menu featured shrimp cocktail, assorted flatbread pizzas, burgers, tuna tartare, salad, risotto, salmon, steak, and of course, chocolate soufflé.

We were joined by several alumni of the Summer Associate program, including Lori Lustrin (Litigation partner), Ben Mitchel (my summer mentor and a Litigation associate), Brianna Sainte (Litigation associate), Alani Fraga (Real Estate associate), and David Jessup (Land Use & Zoning/Environmental associate). We were also joined by Jessica Buchsbaum, Bilzin Sumberg’s Chief Legal Talent Officer.

As we prepared our meal and dined together, I couldn’t help but think of Bilzin Sumberg’s motto: “Proud to be Judged by the Company We Keep.” I was certainly proud to be in the company of my colleagues. Over the past three weeks, the 2022 Summer Associate class has grown into a close-knit team. As we’ve participated in events, tackled joint assignments, and attended professional development seminars, we’ve gotten to know each other well.

Beyond the Summer Associates, the entire firm team has welcomed us with open arms and a sense of camaraderie that I’ve come to learn is classic Bilzin Sumberg. It’s been a pleasure to meet so many members of the firm family, from senior partners to the talented staff. In just the first few weeks of the summer, I’ve joined several attorneys for lunches and “tag-alongs,” and additional ones are scheduled for the upcoming weeks. These have been excellent opportunities to learn about Bilzin Sumberg’s growing practice groups and collegial firm culture.

Our assignments have been interesting and challenging, ranging from case law research using innovative tools to the drafting of transactional documents. So far, I’ve explored several specialties, including antitrust and appellate litigation, as well as corporate restructuring. Along the way, we’ve benefitted from the mentorship of the attorneys, particularly our associate mentors (shout out to Ben). I’ve also picked up on some helpful practice tips that are simply not taught in law school.

Our evening at Two Chefs was a great way to wrap up the third week and celebrate the connections we’ve forged at Bilzin Sumberg thus far. I look forward to the rest of the summer and cannot wait to continue meeting more of my colleagues. And to Teodora and Megan, excellent job on the chocolate soufflé!

Summer Associate, Jordan Rhodes

On Tuesday evening, the Tax Department at Bilzin Sumberg invited the Summer Associates to a “Sushi Rolling & Sake” event to benefit Common Threads. Common Threads is a charity devoted to educating children and families about nutrition and healthy eating, and Jennifer Einersen, one of the attorneys in Tax, is a board member.

When we arrived, Jordan and I joked that we had learned more about cooking within the past two weeks at firm events than we had our whole lives: only one week prior, we attended a cooking class at Two Chefs, where we prepared tuna tartar, burgers, tostones, and chocolate soufflé. Sushi, somehow, seemed more daunting.

Hungry and curious, the Tax attorneys and the Summer Associates congregated around the instructor to learn her technique. She first talked to us about Common Threads and how quickly the charity is expanding. Then, the instructor illustrated step-by-step how to assemble a spicy tuna roll. Although her movements seemed effortless, no one expected the process to flow so smoothly on our end.

Once we dispersed and set out to create our own rolls, the experiment began. Despite the instructor’s warnings, I layered too much rice on the seaweed, creating a ring of white rice and sesame seeds an inch thick⁠— which made it nearly impossible to fit a piece of the roll into my mouth in one bite. Another attorney, exacerbated by the tedious process of slicing the sushi, resigned to eating his roll burrito-style.

As we braved the common obstacles of sushi rolling, the Summer Associates and I were able to familiarize ourselves with the Tax attorneys. Although we share a floor at the firm, for many of us, this was our first interaction with the Tax Department since the Summer Program began. My favorite stories were those of how people came to love Tax; whether through a class they took in law school, or through previous work experience as an accountant, it was interesting to hear about the different paths the attorneys have taken.

After another successful Summer Associate event, I’m grateful for the Tax attorneys’ enthusiasm for getting to know the Summer Associates. It is encouraging to see an entire department show up to support a fellow attorney’s charity and to spend time talking to us about life at the firm. Overall, we as Summer Associates appreciate all of the time and effort that Bilzin Sumberg channels into integrating us into the firm. We look forward to the next event!

(L to R, Kayla Hernandez, Jordan Rhodes and Sophia Guzzo)

(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

The art of negotiation is an invaluable skill that many lawyers strive to perfect. Last week, we had an early opportunity to put our negotiation skills to the test during the initial phase of the Mock Real Estate Transaction. Led by Adam Lustig and Phillip Sosnow of the Bilzin Sumberg Real Estate Group, the Mock Real Estate Transaction is a summer-long training program designed to give summer associates early exposure to the main phases of a real estate deal.

The ultimate goal is to close a deal for the sale of land to be used for commercial purposes. Prior to the initial negotiation for the Letter of Intent, we were separated into two teams—Miami Beckham United LLC (buyers) and Not-So-Scary, LLC (sellers). Alex Roitman and Ali Lehson served as coaches to guide us and to ensure the negotiation session moved along smoothly…and believe me, their presence was absolutely necessary to quell a brewing dumpster fire when both teams conflated the inspection period with the closing period during the negotiation!

During the negotiation session, the atmosphere was extraordinarily intense. Representatives from both sides glared at each other from across the table with hawkish eyes, and each team conferred in plain sight in private (via ad hoc binder walls) to devise (and revise) bold strategies to keep the other team on its heels.

Okay, the atmosphere was not contentious, but it was still challenging to find compromise. Each side used its leverage to negotiate favorable terms related to the purchase price, inspection period, and closing period. After approximately thirty minutes of non-stop action, both sides finally agreed to terms within the Letter of Intent! Although the deal is not yet finalized, this initial success called for a celebration.

To celebrate, we attended a summer associate alumni event at Two Chefs. During this event, we had the opportunity to build camaraderie with attorneys who began their careers as summer associates at Bilzin Sumberg. We also had a chance to hang out with two of Bilzin Sumberg’s finest—Jay Sakalo and Jessica Buchsbaum!


Supervised by the head chef, we demonstrated our superior cooking skills by preparing different dishes throughout various stations. Some of these dishes included—but were not limited to— the finest quinoa in town (prepared by Hannah Lidicker and Desiree Fernandez), perfect-to-the-crisp flatbread (prepared by Alexandra Barshel, Lauren Sabella, Jared Spector, and Leah Aaronson), perfectly-tenderized grilled steak (prepared by Forrest Murphey and yours truly), and the most upscale chocolate soufflé in South Florida (prepared by Luis Reyes, Shalia Sakona, and Jay Sakalo.

Now it’s time to put these newly acquired negotiation (and cooking) skills to use…

fortune cookieIt is hard to believe that we are at the halfway point of our summer. So much has happened and we have learned so much, but it still feels like we just walked through the doors and saw Bilzin Sumberg’s amazing ocean view for the first time.

Even though it feels like we just arrived, the Summer Associates have had tons of opportunities to get to know the attorneys. We are having lunch with different people every day (most recently at the recently-opened Brickell location of Coyo Taco with David Resnick and Josh Kaplan) and we have had tons of social events, like the Two Chefs Summer Associate Alumni Event. On Thursday, some of the associates organized an informal happy hour at Burger and Beer Joint here in Brickell. It was fun to talk to everyone outside of the office and snack on some fried pickles and mini corn dogs. Everyone here has been so friendly and welcoming, and it is great to hear more about why everyone chose to come to Bilzin Sumberg. Two of the brand new Litigation Associates, Ken Duvall and Danielle Moriber, also attended and were able to get to know everybody.

The happy hour was also a great opportunity to talk to some of the past Summer Associates about our mid-summer reviews, which were on Friday. Everyone told us not to be nervous, but it was still nerve racking! Despite the nerves, it is always great to get some feedback from Jay, Jessica and our mentors and to have the opportunity to ask questions about what we could be doing better. I asked a few questions about narrowing down my interests, because I’ve worked on a really broad range of assignments, but the best part, in my opinion, was hearing the specific feedback from each attorney we’ve worked with on an assignment. Hearing what we did well and what could be improved, in their words, was a great way to re-center and gear up for the second half of the summer!

Last night, the Bilzin Sumberg summer associates, both old (alumni) and new (current), endured the traffic on US1 to drive to Two Chefs in South Miami for a night of great food, wine, and company. A favorite night of the summer for many who have attended over the years, the summer associate alumni cooking event was certainly a ton of fun.

We cooked our own dinner! After being handed an apron and a towel by our ‘master chefs,’ the 20-or-so of us split into groups. Each group was responsible for making a different dish; the menu included quesadillas, tuna tartare, risotto, quinoa, salmon, steak, and of course, Two Chefs’ famous chocolate soufflé. There was plenty of work to go around and we all played a part in some aspect of the meal.

I began my cooking contribution by helping Shalia Sakona with the soufflé – a much harder task than I had anticipated. Thankfully, Shalia had the skill needed to get the job done. I, on the other hand, found that slowly churning a giant pan of risotto with Eric Singer was much more my speed. The steak was delicious too, despite the fact that Brandon Rose almost ruined it by incorrectly laying the meat on the grill (which, admittedly, none of us knew could ruin a steak).

Eating the meal was just as fun as cooking it. Everyone had a great time sharing past summer associate stories while cleaning their plates of all the delicious food. The Two Chefs event was certainly a success!

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2014 Summer Associates
From Left to Right: Leah Aaronson, Desiree Fernandez, Jared Spector, Jerry Goldsmith and Anosh Zaghi.

Bilzin Sumberg is thrilled to welcome our 2014 Summer Associate class on their first day of the program today.  To learn more about our 2014 Summer Associates, click here.

The Summer Associates spent the first day of their 9 week program in orientation, which included an introduction to the different firm departments, an overview of what they can expect during their summer including mentoring, assignments, evaluationstraining, social events and a personal welcome from the hiring partner, Marshall Pasternack.

In addition to the traditional professional development trainings & social events like the real estate mock transaction and the summer associate alumni Two Chefs private cooking event, we are most excited about the new events that have been introduced this year.  Some of my personal favorites include the fishing trip to Key Largo, the Wynwood Culinary Tour and the meal service benefitting the Chapman Partnership.  Stay tuned to learn more about this year’s program from our newest bloggers!  Welcome!