Feedback & Evaluations

This summer, I’ve had the honor of writing both the first blog post and the final blog post. In my first post, I talked about the welcome wine and cheese event, the training sessions, and being back at Bilzin Sumberg. It is hard to believe that when I was writing that post nine weeks ago I barely knew Forrest, Luis, Alex, and Eric (Lauren I knew from last year!), and I had no idea that they would become such great friends and supportive colleagues.

Before we get to the end of summer fun, we have to get through the last of our assignments and our end of summer reviews. While I’m always a little bit nervous before the reviews, the attorneys always seem to provide helpful and encouraging feedback. Plus – my great mentor Lindsey Parker is always there with me! I’ve also tried to make an effort this year to reach out to individual assigning attorneys for feedback before my review — a suggestion from Jay Sakalo and Jessica Buchsbaum that I think has been helpful in improving my work and to building stronger relationships with the attorneys at the firm.

Continue Reading The Final Few Days of a Great Summer

Concept image of the six most common questions and answers on a signpost.One important decision (among many) that an aspiring attorney must consider is what legal market to practice in. Many factors go into this decision-making matrix, including—but not limited to—the demand for specific practice areas, paths to partnership, market trends, family, weather, food, and proximity to the beach. Of course, the order of importance of these factors varies by individual preference. For me personally, proximity to the beach may or may not be ranked heavily.

Joking aside, the Miami legal market appeals to me for many reasons. For one, it is a young vibrant city with a rapidly-growing legal industry. Much of this growth has been fueled by an increase in international investment and subsequent real estate expansion. It is a city that has transformed from a pure resort destination to the gateway for business with Latin America—and to a growing extent with Europe and Asia. With growth comes opportunity. The opportunity to make an immediate and meaningful impact as a young attorney is perhaps the biggest reason I chose Miami.

Bilzin Sumberg has been at the forefront of the city’s growth since the firm’s inception. One way that the firm is currently meeting the demands of the Miami market is through its leadership role in Public-Private Partnership (P3) projects. In general, a P3 is a business relationship between a government agency and a private company for the purpose of developing public infrastructure or services. As Miami’s population continues to grow, the demand for infrastructure improvements will increase tremendously. This is one field that I personally desire to immerse myself in, especially in anticipation of the growing demand for improved infrastructure.

The firm also does a great job of developing associates. As a summer associate, I appreciate the opportunity to take on assignments related to multiple practice areas—from litigation to government relations. I also appreciate the challenge that each assignment presents. The assigning attorneys do a phenomenal job of communicating their expectations of the work product and providing us feedback at the conclusion of the assignment. This communication is essential to our development as summer associates and future attorneys of the firm. Before starting at the firm, I was unable to speak intelligently about a derivative action on behalf of a corporation, the affirmative defense of unclean hands, or the most efficient process of serving a complaint on a foreign corporation overseas—to name a few examples. Perhaps I still cannot speak intelligently about these topics, but I can at least appear to do so!

As the summer continues, I look forward to taking on more assignments, improving my knowledge on the trends of the Miami market, and growing as a professional alongside my fellow summer associates.

suit_papersBeing a strong writer is a requirement for practicing law, but ask a lay person and they may tell you “legal writing” evokes thoughts of confusing contracts and memos filled with obscure Latin phrases. Fortunately for us, Susan McCloskey of Susan McCloskey Writing Consultants came to Bilzin Sumberg this week to help us keep our writing clear, effective, and sans-“legalese.”

The process actually began weeks ago, when Jessica Buchsbaum asked each of the summer associates to submit writing samples. We also completed a “Writer’s Inventory”, answering questions about our writing methods, strengths, and weaknesses.  Susan used these materials to tailor her writing seminar to our individual needs.

Susan began by sharing proven writing techniques that improve organization, clarity, and concision. For example, Susan encouraged us to keep the purpose and the reader in mind when organizing and editing our writing.  This is crucial for us, because we’ll be doing work for attorneys with wildly different preferences and expectations over the summer. Continue Reading Legal Writing for Dummies (and Summer Associates)

The time for my final summer blog post has come. I know… try to hold back your tears (regardless of whether they are tears of joy or sadness). I’ve decided to take this time to share a few tips regarding how to make the most of your time as a Summer Associate at Bilzin Sumberg:

Continue Reading Five Survival Tips for the Summer Associate

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!

The summer associates at their farewell ice cream social.
The summer associates at their farewell ice cream social.

Last Friday was the last day of the summer program!  We are thankful to our summer class for their commitment and effort.  It is our hope that we honored our commitment to them: a real-world experience and constructive feedback.  Along the way, we are confident they grew professionally and personally and developed strong relationships with our attorneys – and each other.

Thanks Jennifer, Jessica, Camille, Anthony & Brendan!  It was a pleasure!  On-campus interviewing is officially underway and we are excited to begin meeting next year’s bloggers.

Flashback to the first day of the summer program!
Flashback to the first day of the summer program!

 

 

Playing "Heads Up" with First Tee participants during a rain delay.
Playing “Heads Up” with First Tee participants during a rain delay.

Getting toward the end of the Summer Associate program, we are all amazed at how quickly our time here has gone by. In addition to the interesting assignments and fun social events, the Summer Associates had a great opportunity this week to spend some time with college-bound students at the First Tee golf event. The First Tee is an educational program, involving golf instruction, for young students to learn and develop strong traits.  The firm came to know about this wonderful organization from Carlos Rodriguez at First American Title Insurance – a company that works frequently with our real estate attorneys.

We started our day off with a quick tour of the golf course and facilities. With the gracious donations of some sponsors, the organization has brand new buildings and golf equipment for the campers–it’s no surprise that the campers look forward to their summers there. Following the tour, we were introduced to the campers. They were excited to meet us and hear about what it’s like to work in the legal field and attend law school at the University of Miami School of Law. We also enjoyed learning about their educational experiences up to this point. Some campers are in the middle of their college search and asked for advice on how to narrow down their choices and find a school that is the right fit. Overall, it was rewarding to speak with these bright, young students and provide some insight on how we have approached our short-term and long-term goals.

Following our morning at the First Tee, the Summer Associates headed back to the office to tie up some loose ends on a few of our assignments. Follow our mid-summer reviews, the five of us have been able to narrow down our interests a bit and focus our work on certain practice areas. It was definitely beneficial to try an assignment in each practice group along the way to see what type of work would be a good fit for each of us.

Following some of the great times we have had getting to know one another at social events like the Poker Tournament, we have also been gaining valuable work experience in all of Bilzin Sumberg’s different practice areas. This week, we focused on Real Estate Transactions, as the Summer Associates participated in the next two phases of our Mock Real Estate Transaction. With a combination of hands-on learning and a few helpful presentations from Marshall Pasternack, Adam Lustig, and Phillip Sosnow, our respective real estate teams negotiated the next phases of a multi-million dollar transaction. After some bargaining, we struck a solid deal regarding the terms of our Purchase and Sale Agreement, and worked together to implement the changes into the contract. Thankfully, during our negotiations, our team leaders stuck by our sides to make sure we didn’t stray too far from typical business practices.

Toward that end, the guidance we have received at Bilzin Sumberg has been one of my favorite parts of working at this law firm. Our mentors have been here for us every step of the way, whether we have needed pointers on our assignments or more general feedback and advice. To further strengthen that learning experience, we all had our Mid-Summer reviews recently. Although we were a bit nervous to see how our reviews would go, it was a great check-in during which we could share our experiences thus far and discuss our completed assignments. The reviews also provided us with the opportunity to begin to narrow down our interests to certain practice areas and take more assignments from them. It is hard to believe that we are officially halfway through the summer program, but I am excited to see what the next week brings!

On the first day of summer, we sat in the Bilzin Sumberg boardroom with Marshall Pasternack and Jessica Buchsbaum. Marshall was telling us that the summer program would fly by before we knew it. Well, here we sit nine weeks later and his words have proved prophetic.

The summer experience has been fulfilling in a number of different ways. We were all exposed to work that forced us to critically think about complex legal issues. Experienced attorneys–from senior partners to associates–helped us with our work, providing us with guidance and invaluable feedback, and inviting us to join them on tag-alongs. We participated in simulations designed to expose us to some types of work otherwise inaccessible to summer associates. Finally, we each selected assignments that were interesting to us, which allowed us all to experience what practicing is like in each of Bilzin Sumberg’s different departments.

We made professional and personal connections with people throughout the firm. It started with our mentors, who were a tremendous resource for all of us. The summer associate program was full of social events designed to allow us to meet attorneys in a non-workplace setting, and we found attorneys more than happy to engage with us on a personal level. We were able to witness first-hand the commitment that Bilzin Sumberg has to giving back to the community through Bilzin Sumberg Cares, and how important giving back is to our firm.

The summer program was a tremendous experience. It was well-organized and well-executed from beginning to the end. My experience would not have been the same without the people that shared it with me every step along the way: Leah, Desiree, Jared and Moshe. What started as just work friendships has turned into something much more meaningful, and I couldn’t have picked a better group of people to have spent the summer with.

 

Among the many wise words that Marshall Pasternack expresses to the summer associates each year, “enjoy every moment because the summer is going to fly by” has hit home the most.  It is hard to believe – mind-blowing, in fact – that we have been working at Bilzin Sumberg for over five weeks and are approaching the middle of week number six. The summer truly has flown and we are thoroughly enjoying our time at the firm.

Last week all five summer associates met for our mid-summer evaluations. A “love-fest,” as it has been coined, the evaluations were both informative and important. The evaluations were informative because listening to feedback from completed assignments helped to understand where improvements can be made and what we’ve been doing right thus far. Further, the evaluations were important because we discussed what practice groups we’re interested in joining. These conversations have really forced us to focus on what areas of the law we see ourselves practicing down the line.

We are all feeling comfortable at the firm and have established several great relationships with the attorneys and with each other. Although the summer has flown, I can say with earnest that we have learned a lot and that we enjoy coming into the office more and more each day.