Photo of Elise Holtzman

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!

 

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!

 

 women event 3We are in the final weeks of our summer at Bilzin Sumberg, and the fun activities are non-stop. Last week, we had our mock real estate transaction closing and a lovely happy hour with Marshall Pasternack. On Wednesday, Jenny, Claudia, Hannah, Lauren, and I had an event with the Firm’s women attorney’s at Bottle & Bottega. We were greeted at the adorable gallery with delicious food from Daily Bread (a favorite of mine and Jenny’s) and some wine to get our creative juices flowing.

Continue Reading Painting the Night Away

Last week, Jenny and I had the opportunity to attend the 2016 Federal Court Observer Program. The program was created by the Honorable Paul C. Huck, a Southern District of Florida Federal Court Judge. Every summer he invites law students working in Miami to the federal courthouse to interact with federal judges and local attorneys as well as hear from them through panels on various topics. The morning began with breakfast and registration where both Jenny and I got to catch up with friends from law school who are also working in Miami this summer.

 

Continue Reading Order in the (Federal) Court (Observer Program)!

With three weeks down and six to go, the summer is in full swing. We are getting the hang of balancing assignments and social events while also getting to know the attorneys and each other. Last week, the ladies of the summer associate class got to join the women attorneys of Bilzin Sumberg in volunteering for United Way and the Lotus House. The Lotus House is a Miami organization that provides shelter for homeless women and children. Not only do they provide shelter, the Lotus House gives these women training, education, and resources to improve their lives.

The particular event we attended was Women Helping Women, which is part of the United Way Women’s Leadership group. There were so many women from a variety of local community organizations there to volunteer for the Lotus House. If that wasn’t inspiring enough, Georgette, a Lotus House alumnus, spoke to us about how the organization lifted her and her young daughter out of poverty only three years ago. She now holds a position at the Lotus House and was recently promoted. Her story left tears in our eyes and truly exemplified the impact the Lotus House has on women, children, and our greater community.

Continue Reading Ladies Night for the Lotus House

Concept image of the six most common questions and answers on a signpost.

The latter half of my first week at Bilzin Sumberg was over before I knew it. Between the social activities, trainings, and first assignments Geoff, Frankie, Hannah, Jenny, Lauren, Claudia and I grew even more excited for what is to come. As we parted ways to enjoy our Memorial Day Weekend, I realized that the seven of us have a wealth of information to reflect on during our time off. Not only did we receive practical training in our first week at the Firm, we received great advice from the Firm’s former successful summer associates and experienced attorneys.

On the third day of the summer associate program, we had lunch with first year associates Leah Aaronson, Jerry Goldsmith, and Jared Spector, who are also summer associate alumni. They offered us some “uncensored” advice on the summer associate program, which put us at ease while also inspiring us to take full advantage of our summer at Bilzin Sumberg. It was extremely beneficial to get to ask questions of people who were in our shoes recently, and to get insight as to life as a young attorney at Bilzin Sumberg.  Continue Reading Sound Advice for Our Summer in the Magic City