Photo of Luis Reyes

We started the day with a legal writing seminar taught by Ed Lintz of Legal Writing Pro—a resource to which I attribute much of my success in law school (Point Made, written by the company’s founder, was by my side at all times then and now). But the seminar was particularly helpful because we discussed not only writing for courts but for clients too. Us lawyers often indulge ourselves with legal ruminations in client letters when the client simply wants advice written in plain English. Though most of us know this, we still forget to write from the reader’s perspective.  

After lunch, Michael Moore, legal researcher extraordinaire, stopped by with Shalia Sakona from our litigation department to give us an overview of best practices when facing a research problem. Another thing clients don’t like—being billed for inefficient research. And who can blame them? 

 The next event of the day was perhaps my favorite. Jeff Levin and Mimi Klimberg of the Greater Miami-Dade Jewish Federation gave a fantastic non-denominational presentation on how to find a passion and pick a charity organization with similar values. We shared stories of how we’ve helped others, discussed the sense of fulfillment that came from it, and planned how we could make an impact going forward. 

 The last bit of training for the day was given by Scott Baena, the creator of this wonderful program. Can you guess what it was about? Here is a hint: we ultimately work in the service sector, and without clients we are nothing more than unemployed philosophers. I’m sure you guessed it—client satisfaction. I learned that oftentimes the best way to serve a client is simply by asking what his or her needs are. What are your goals in dealing with this matter? How would you like to be updated? Clients want us to know what they want; we just need to ask (and deliver).  

Last but not least was an experience that I will never forget. We had a wonderful dinner with Bilzin Sumberg’s founding partners and its next managing partner, Al Dotson. The discussion was moderated by Marshall Pasternack, who led us through a range of topics, from our firm culture and the importance of pro-bono work, to the mistakes partners made as young associates. People say it’s almost impossible to get a group of lawyers to coordinate a conference call, yet we had a three-hour-dinner with a group of partners who are likely busier than I can even fathom. What a testament to the firm’s development of its young lawyers!  

I am so proud to be a part of the Bilzin Sumberg family. The firm does not give mere lip service to serving the community; it walks the walks. And it true—you don’t just “fit in” here, you belong here. 

 

As the summer program is coming to a close, I can’t help but smile as I think back to all the wonderful experiences I’ve had in just nine weeks at Bilzin Sumberg. Though all my other blog posts have been (hopefully) funny and lighthearted, with the readers’ permission, I’d like to indulge in some philosophical introspection and for posterity give a heartfelt account of my experience.

I think I can fairly speak for my fellow summer associates in saying that we are all truly blessed to have been summer associates here: The relationships we’ve built, the work we’ve done, the skills we’ve learned—all second to none.

My fellow summer associates and I have all become incredibly close during our short time so far at the firm; this is undoubtedly due in part to the emphasis here on fostering a positive firm culture. After all, the firm’s slogan is “be judged by the company you keep.” And speaking of company, not a single summer associate ever had lunch alone. From day one, we were encouraged to make lunch plans with attorneys whose practices might be of interest. The attorneys, despite their busy schedules, always found a way to make time for us. Between all of the lunches and all of the practice-group events, the summer associates got to meet almost everyone.

But of course, there is much more to life as a summer associate than being taken out to lunch every day; there are assignments! The breadth of work that I got to do over the summer was incredible, making it much easier to rank my preferred practice groups at the end of the program. For instance, I worked on matters involving public-private partnership proposals, antitrust business development, Florida service of process requirements, luxury hotel management contracts, and I even contributed to two appellate briefs. I also attended client meetings, a mediation session, and an oral argument at the Third District Court of Appeal.

The work I’ve done this summer has been incredibly fulfilling, but I believe the people at Bilzin Sumberg are what set this firm apart from others: employees here are not just co-workers or friends—they’re family. Law is a rewarding but tough career. If we’re going to be “in the trenches,” why not be with people we can call family?

The author, Luis Reyes, about to throw a strike!
The author, Luis Reyes, about to throw a strike!

No, this blog post is not about a proposed T.V. show spin-off; this blog post is about competition; this blog post is about camaraderie; this blog post is about bowling with the Bilzin Sumberg litigation department.

We all trickled in to Splitsville, a local bowling alley, at 7 p.m., where full bar service and a large buffet awaited. There was sushi, chicken, shrimp—and did I mention sushi? After about an hour of chatting and eating, we put on our bowling shoes, warmed up our wrists, and made our way to the bowling lanes.

The summer associates were all spread across the five bowling lanes, where we competed against the partners and associates for bragging rights of nabbing the highest score. Unfortunately for those with an affinity for the gutter ball, we decided not to use the lane bumpers.

I ended up on lane three, where the competition was scorching hot. Phil, Shalia, Desiree, Danielle, Ken, and I all jockeyed—some better than others—for the lead. Although I ultimately bowled one of my best games ever with a 137 (which doesn’t say a lot for me), I’ll admit, beginner’s luck played a huge part.

After saying that I had not bowled in years and that I would probably be “Mr. Gutter-ball,” I got two strikes at the outset! I found a growing confidence in my comfortable lead—a bad idea. The luck wore off soon enough. Before I knew it, Ken hit three strikes in a row (a “turkey”) and left me in the dust. And once Ken got going, he didn’t stop: with a score in the 170’s after game two, he earned the coveted highest score of the night.

We were all exhausted after a few hours of bowling and went off to the lounge area to relax. There, both the “winners” and “losers” of the night were treated to delicious chocolate brownies, which changed everyone’s concept of winning and losing. Let’s be honest—after chocolate brownies, we were all winners. And although I can say that, with a 137, I (barely) out-bowled my fellow summer associates, I can’t say I’ll be going from a career in law to one in bowling any time soon.

 

tour“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” is a proverb Bilzin Sumberg’s Land Development & Government Relations Group lives by.

On Tuesday night, the attorneys took the summer associates on a culinary tour through Wynwood. We had all heard great things about this event and it definitely lived up to the hype.

A tour guide met us at Wynwood Walls, a restaurant, bar, and art gallery, where the walls serve as canvas for world-renowned artists. But these artists must love just the process of painting because all but a few of the walls are painted-over each year at the start of Art Basel!

tour guideBefore starting the tour, the guide told us a fascinating story of how the late Tony Goldman, a famous developer, transformed Wynwood from a neighborhood with a high crime rate and low property value into the art mecca that it is today. The history lesson was interesting, but the guide knew to keep it short and sweet. We were all waiting in anticipation for one thing: food.

Boy, it was worth the wait. The first stop of the culinary tour was Mister Block Cafe, a shopping center with different stores and restaurants. We sat at a long, cafeteria-style table and sampled delicious Argentinian empanadas. As we ate, Stanley Price and Eileen Ball Mehta captivated us with stories of Miami’s shakers and movers, and before anyone knew it, it was time to move along to the next stop. Thirty minutes had whizzed by in what seemed like only thirty seconds.

The food we tried next at GK Bistronomie made it next to impossible to pick a favorite dish at the end of the night: First up was fresh ceviche served in a spiced citrus juice, and after that, “lomo saltado,” a traditional Peruvian dish consisting of stir-fried sirloin strips served on a bed of rice and potatoes; I’m getting hungry just writing about it! We also had refreshing cocktails as the summer associates listened to the now-infamous story of how one of the attorneys once innocently mistook mojitos for a type of lemonade. Needless to say, the difference between the two is no longer lost upon said person.

The last stop, Concrete Beach Breweryknown for its creative brewslived up to its reputation. Once we arrived, the hostess brought us refreshing beer infused with passion fruit, and invited everyone to join an ongoing beer-pong competition. While we gladly accepted the ice-cold beer to fend off the heat, we all politely declined to join the beer pong competition. Undergraduate students may not have to wake up before noon, but lawyers do!

Land Use
Eileen Ball Mehta, Dalayna T. Craigman, Stanley B. Price, Cristina Lumpkin, Carly Grimm, Leah Aaronson, Albert E. Dotson, Jr., Daniel S. Goldberg, Brian S. Adler, Eric Singer, Javier F. Aviñó, Hannah Lidicker, Luis Reyes, Eric Reissi, Lauren Sabella, Alexandra Barshel and Forrest Murphy.

 

IMG_0181Disclaimer: The following story is a dramatization of true events. No summer associates were hurt in the making of this story.

It was May 28th, 2017, and the air was thick with excitement. The summer associates were preparing to participate in one of Bilzin Sumberg‘s most anticipated events. We were about to test our skills; we were about to test our luck; we were about to play Texas Hold ‘Em.

Members of three different departments met the summer associates in a conference room stacked with food, drinks, and three poker tables. As we all sat down, the dealers asked whether we had played Texas Hold Em’ before. Some said yes, others lied (just kidding­—I think). After the dealers gave a quick refresher course, the drama began. Everyone started out by playing conservatively and stuck to that game plan. Well, almost everyone.

I earned the lauded distinction of being the first to lose. As I got what would ultimately be my losing hand, the dealer asked if I knew a song by Kenny Rogers that says “You’ve got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em.” I told her I didn’t. This was foreshadowing at its finest.

I had a pocket pair of jacks—a pretty good hand—and thought I would surely take someone’s chips that round. Yet with each card the dealer revealed, the remote but possible chance materialized that someone could have a straight (five cards in sequential numerical order). It all came down to the last card dealt, “the river.” I thought my chances of losing were pretty slim. I decided to test my luck and went all in; it didn’t end well.

The summer associates made a strong initial showing, but one at a time, we began to fall. By the time the final table was set, only two of us remained. All of our hopes and dreams were riding on Alex and Forrest. Everyone gathered around the table and watched intently. Once again, fortunes would be won and lost on the river card.

Eventually the herd was thinned to two final players: Forrest Murphy and Josh Kaplan. Things got intense; I think someone even shouted “sweep the leg!” But when the dust settled, Josh emerged the winner and earned the spoils of victory: an Apple iPad. Yet like so many others at Bilzin Sumberg, Josh is all about giving back and donated his prize to Forrest. Then again, maybe the gift qualified as a tax-deductible charitable donation.

Unlike last year, no summer associate won the tournament, but we sure had a ton of fun! And perhaps more importantly, we learned why litigants so often settle rather than take their chances on a jury trial: You never know what the river holds.