Photo of Lauren Sabella

The first week has really flown by and it is hard to believe it is already the end of our first week of the Academy. The morning started out with a firm-wide breakfast for Teach for America – an organization near and dear to both the firm and our clients.  

After the breakfast, Stacia Wells walked us through a session on understanding financial statements. As a firm catering to commercial clients, spotting potential legal issues in financial statements is a critical skill. I know we all appreciated Stacia’s engaging and straightforward approach to what can be an intimidatingly complex area for recent law school graduates.  

Oksana Esberard then led us through a mindfulness session. We learned that we can add value and increase productivity by simply giving everyone a moment to gather their thoughts before diving into business in meetings.  

We then headed over to the Design District for lunch at MC Kitchen, where we were joined by clients Steven Gretenstein (of Dacra, a real estate development company) and Lyle Chariff, Mauricio Zapata, and Luis Guevara (of Chariff Realty Group). After a delightful lunch, they took us on a tour of emerging neighborhoods – starting with the Design District. The Design District is home to cafés, restaurants, and art galleries, as well as to flagship stores for luxury brands such as Louis Vuitton and Louboutin. Our group was privileged to visit Dacra in the Design District and see their fascinating private art collection adorning the walls of the Dacra offices.  

After the Design District, we toured Wynwood (famous for the Wynwood Walls, as well as many excellent restaurants and breweries) and the emerging neighborhood of Allapattah. It was an eye-opening and inspiring experience to hear the stories of how these three neighborhoods have evolved and grown over the years. We felt truly privileged that Bilzin Sumberg’s deep and meaningful client relationships allowed us to benefit from these insights.

 

Closing celebration at Sugar!

Over the summer, we have had the chance to experience every stage of a typical real estate transaction through the Mock Real Estate Transaction program. From the initial contract negotiation to contract amendment, Adam Lustig and Phil Sosnow led the summer associates through each step to closing. This week, after preparing a special warranty deed, a general assignment, a no lien affidavit, and a closing statement, we were finally ready! The teams showed up prepared (or so we thought). Continue Reading (Almost) Getting to Closing

Summer Associate Bake Off 3By mid-week, our summer associate training mostly complete and it was time to get to work and choose our first assignments. Following precedent set by previous summer classes, we got toget    her to discuss who was most interested in the available assignments from the different practice groups. In just the first week, we have had the chance to work across practice groups including Litigation, Land Use, Business Finance and Restructuring, Corporate, and Tax!

Luis and Alex have been researching Miami-Dade’s competitive bidding procedure for the Land Use group. Eric has been drafting a tolling agreement and conducting case law research on the eligibility of a plaintiff to file a derivative suit. Hannah has been helping out on a closing by working on the checklist and updating agreements. Forrest is learning about bankruptcy law and the formation of creditor’s committees. Meanwhile, I‘ve had the chance to work with Jay Ward in Litigation on the case that I completed my first research assignment for last summer. It has been very interesting to see how the matter has progressed!

The summer associates have already had some fantastic tag-along opportunities – Luis was able to go to the 3rd District Court of Appeals to see José Ferrer advocate for his client’s position. We look forward to many more tag-alongs to observe different court proceedings and client interactions throughout the summer.

Even though training is ending, the summer program has many fun social events and traditions to look forward to. For example, the intense rivalry between Jessica Buchsbaum and Paul VanderMeer in the annual bake-off! Each year, the incoming class of summer associates completes an in-depth dessert survey, and Paul and Jessica make desserts customized to our preferences. A blind taste-test and vote determines the reigning champion. This year, Jessica’s chocolate chip s’more cookie cake triumphed over Paul’s butter-finger cake! (The rules of the competition prevent me from sharing the real recipes the competitors used, but the links above are a close approximation.)

Now that we’ve completed our first week, we are looking forward to a summer of engaging work assignments and exciting social events as we get to know the attorneys at Bilzin Sumberg and the city of Miami!

Last week markIMG_1920ed the culmination of the Mock Real Estate Transaction–a training program designed to give the summer associates exposure to the full life cycle and many phases of a real estate deal.  The summer associates were divided into two teams, buyers (Team Captain America) and sellers (Team Iron Man).

 

Weekly sessions led by Adam Lustig and Phil Sosnow covered each phase of a real estate transaction, from Letter of Intent to Closing.  Coaches Manny Gonzalez and Kent Koch were assigned to each team to help us understand and draft documents, as well as advise us in conducting negotiations.  After the informative introduction, the teams would conduct a negotiation, attempting to reach a compromise by the end of the session.  Buyers and sellers were given unique fact patterns for each phase, highlighting needs and wants to drive negotiation priorities.

The path to closing was not always smooth.  In fact, during the Contract Amendment phase, our deal almost broke down entirely.  Buyers and sellers fully embraced their roles and negotiations for an extension of the property inspection period got very heated.  Personally, I learned a valuable and mildly embarrassing lesson about the importance of stepping out of the room to confer privately.  Thinking aloud in role of the seller, I blurted out “what do we think of $X for Y weeks extension?” Buyers enthusiastically embraced my suggestion, my team shot me looks of stunned disbelief, and Adam declared “that sounds like offer and acceptance!”  I frantically back-pedaled and thankfully we were permitted to disregard my comment and move on. Continue Reading The Summer War – Let’s Make a Deal

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Geoff, Claudia, Frankie, Elise & Lauren pose in front of a piece of art in the exhibit

On Saturday, June 25th, the summer associates were invited to attend the annual firm dinner party. Spouses and significant others were included in the event, and it was very enjoyable to meet our colleagues’ partners.  We enjoyed a variety of delicious appetizers and mingled before taking our seats for dinner.

The lavishly catered event was held at a truly unique venue–the Rubell Family Collection— in the Wynwood neighborhood.  The Rubell Family Collection was established in 1964 in New York City, and is now one of the world’s largest privately owned contemporary art collections.  Since 1993, the collection has been exhibited in a 45,000 square foot repurposed Drugs Enforcement Agency confiscated goods facility in Miami, Florida.  Currently, the thematic exhibition is called “No Man’s Land,” and features the work of female artists exclusively.  Having a dinner party surrounded by such unique contemporary art was a truly memorable experience.

It is hard to believe that the dinner party marked the end of the fifth week of our summer.  It is amazing how quickly our experience as Bilzin Sumberg summer associates is flying by.  With so many fun events, we are really getting to know the attorneys at the firm outside of the office setting.  Next up, we have an evening of theater at the Arsht Center  to see Summer Shorts with the Corporate and Tax groups to look forward to!

The very first day of orientation, the summer associates were introduced to the concept of tag alongs. Bilzin Sumberg provides opportunities for us to shadow experienced attorneys as they interact with clients, learning by observing. We were asked to rank practice groups in order of personal interest, allowing Jessica Buchsbaum to assign the experiences in order of priority as they arise.

I don’t think any of us were expecting the number and variety of tag alongs we’ve experienced in just the first two and a half weeks of the summer. All seven summer associates have had opportunities to observe associates and partners “in action,” interacting with their clients on pressing matters. So far, our group has tagged-along with the Corporate & Tax, Litigation, Land Development & Government Relations, Business Finance & Restructuring, and Real Estate practice groups. Continue Reading Summer Associates Tagging-Along