In what feels like a matter of days, we’ve reached the third and final week of The Academy! Monday morning, we began the day at the office bright and early in the boardroom with Michael Kreitzer. Michael spoke to us about the basics of motion calendar and the different ways lawyers may prepare for their motions. We then took a trip to the Dade County Courthouse. Before motion calendar, we met with Judge Samantha Ruiz-Cohen in her chambers and had the chance to speak with her before what would be a very structured and eventful morning. The four of us first years filed into the jury box with Jessica Buchsbaum and Michael to witness the morning’s calendar beginning sharply at 9 a.m. In the approximate hour-and-a-half we were in the courtroom, we witnessed a variety of advocacy styles, legal issues, and requests from Judge Ruiz-Cohen.

Succeeding our morning’s theme of advocacy, we headed over to the Lotus House for a meeting with their Director, Anna Frusciante . She brought to our attention the issue of homelessness in Miami, specifically among women and children in the city. The discussion provoked thoughtful questions about the challenges homeless women face and the opportunities for assistance to the cause in the community. While at Lotus House, we learned that the center has the ability to accommodate up to 250 women and children, turning away thousands in need each year. Thankfully, after some pro bono work by many firm lawyers the organization is in the process of building a beautiful new location to accommodate over 500 women and children! While visiting, we were able to watch a short clip of a rendering of the new Lotus House facility, set to open in December of 2017!

Back at the office, we heard from David Trench and Melissa Pallett-Vasquez about arbitration and litigation issues that arise in specific cases. We ended the day with a visit from Alan Ojeda, the developer of our very own 1450 Brickell office space and much much more throughout the city of Miami. Alan spoke to us about how he started his development career in Miami after hailing from Spain. Most inspiring were Alan’s stories of acquiring property, building projects while others doubted his plans, and subsequently continuing to complete the numerous projects, all of which are still successful many years after their completion!

little havana
The Academy visits Calle Ocho!

One of my favorite qualities of Miami is that is has held onto its vibrant roots in the community. Interestingly, the city also has an amazing ability to blend in large-scale examples of modern industry throughout, as explored in our firm’s New Miami Blog.

On the historical and cultural side, Miami has a number of excellent spots to enjoy some authentic Cuban food. To get a taste of Miami history, we headed out to an area called Little Havana, which is host to one of the best festivals in the country called “Carnaval Miami.” Packed with great shops and Miami history, Little Havana is also home to “Domino Park,” where for over 35 years, tradition has forged a meeting sport for friends and family to gather and enjoy their morning coffee with a competitive game of Dominoes.

Nicely complementing Miami’s culture, we were also able to see part of Miami’s latest industrial endeavors as we toured the All Aboard project that is underway in Downtown. The project, which is an express train service stretching from Miami to Orlando, is one of the many new and exciting developments going on to fuel Miami’s appetite for growth. Although the project will take some time to complete, we were impressed to see firsthand how quickly the company is transforming the Downtown area to include new upscale shopping and living space for tourists and residents alike to enjoy Miami’s culture.

United WayWeek two of The Academy is underway and we’ve already had two field trips. Up first was a visit to the United Way’s Center for Excellence in Early Education – a leading educational facility for children between one and five years old. While there we toured the educational facilities and also received a big-picture synopsis of what the United Way of Miami-Dade is doing in our community. In short, the United Way has partnered with other South Florida organizations that focus on three areas: Education, primarily in the early years; Financial Stability; and, Health. Though we had already participated in several of the United Way’s projects last summer, it was enlightening to learn more about the specific issues affecting our community – such as income and educational gaps and how they feed off each other – and, more importantly, how we can continue to get involved.

For our second trip, Suzanne Amaducci-Adams and Jon Chassen invited us to ride the Miami Metromover to tour the city. As we zipped through the Miami Skyline, Suzanne and Jon gave us a history lesson about the development of Brickell and Downtown Miami, and pointed out the projects they have worked or are currently working on – which, as an aside, included practically every building we passed along the way. Seeing these projects firsthand helped me appreciate our firm’s footprint on our city. But, as Suzanne emphasized, her primary goal was to introduce us to Miami Dade’s transportation system, which has seen exciting developments over the years and for which there remains many exciting opportunities.

In addition to the field trips, we’ve also had presentations by the Corporate and Real Estate Departments. It was exciting to learn more about what the departments do, the projects they have worked on, and how their deals often require teaming up with lawyers from other departments. Of course, that entailed covering a lot of material. So, to put that information into context, Stephen Sandiford and Christopher Pierson hilariously acted out a lawyer-client meeting in which Chris retained Stephen to help him sell a company that manufactures surgically-implanted communication devices – surely something many law partners would be lining up to buy for their associates. And after, we too became part of the program as Alexandra Lehson and Kent Koch turned the tables and asked us to negotiate a Guarantee Agreement for a multi-million dollar loan.

Overall, The Academy has provided us with an exciting introduction to our legal careers. We’ve had opportunities to interact with key members in our firm, leaders and organizations in our community, and professionals across many industries. I am excited to see what this last week holds, and even more excited to begin practicing after that.

cava
Commissioner Cava visits Bilzin Sumberg

Our first week of the inaugural Academy continued with modules presented by members of our own law firm. We learned much about the different practices within the Business Finance and Restructuring group from bankruptcy to loan agreements and more. We also witnessed a live mock commission hearing from the Land Development and Governmental Relations group! This gave all of us attending the opportunity to witness not only how a they prepare for presentation to a county or city commission, but also the real interplay of commissioner questions and general public comments that are involved. This provided us with great insight to one of the advocacy components of the specific practice area.

Along with the presentations by attorneys from Bilzin Sumberg, unique perspectives from outside speakers helped our first-year class appreciate the importance of both community involvement and interaction. On Tuesday, a visit from Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava brought close-to-home meaning to more general words like “citizen” and “service.” Commissioner Cava spoke not only of her own triumphs in the greater Miami area, but causes our new attorneys (myself included!) could dedicate time to in an effort to improve areas within the community. Issues such as water conservation, education, and housing were some of the specific areas we discussed as showing plenty of need for local attention and service. A subsequent group discussion of the concept of giving back really enforced the idea that although attorneys serve those who need help with legal concepts, our broader role of assisting others in need extends far beyond law, and well into the community.

Later in the week, Jim Cranston from Law Vision Group hosted a morning session about practice development. Besides reinforcing the importance of networks and business development, Jim introduced us to concepts linking social media networks to professional interactions. It is easy for us to think of the two as necessarily separate, but with LinkedIn, and at times sites like Twitter, the two can truly be merged to foster professional networks and connections! Attorneys at the firm who publish blog posts covering an array of legal topics for example often share their discussions on different platforms to inform members of our own firm and far beyond of the changes in law or other findings. Utilizing these platforms effectively will definitely be helpful in discovering other individuals who are involved in areas related to our practice.

Overall, this week has sparked important ideas and concepts for the beginning of our professional careers as lawyers and also as community-members. I’m looking forward to the upcoming Academy lessons on these two aspects and more!

The Academy Happy Hour Day 1           Monday was a very special day for Jessica, Brendan, Anthony and me, as it marked the very first day of our legal careers! After spending the first half of our summer vigorously studying for the Florida Bar Examination, we each enjoyed well-deserved breaks afterwards. With two months of world traveling, beach-going, and catching up on much needed sleep behind us, we all felt refreshed and ready to embark on this new chapter: returning to Bilzin Sumberg as first-year associates! Knowing that we would be the very first class to have the privilege of going through The Academy for Professional Development made our return to Bilzin Sumberg all the more special.

Our first day was incredibly memorable. Despite it having been over a year since our summer associate program ended, walking back into Bilzin Sumberg felt as warm and welcoming as ever. We began the day with a welcome presentation from Managing Partner, John Sumberg, regarding the firm’s history, vision and commitment to community involvement throughout Miami. We then delved straight into our first interactive program of The Academy, led by University of Miami professor and mindfulness expert, Scott Rogers. This program introduced us to the practice of mindfulness, described as being present in the moment, rather than allowing outside thoughts to shift our focus and pull us away from the task at hand. We practiced meditation techniques to help quell outside thoughts that would otherwise interfere with our complete engagement in the present. Understanding that we are in control of our own thoughts was empowering. If we are practicing mindfulness, it is our choice whether we are focused or distracted. I can’t wait to incorporate these meditation techniques into my legal practice!

The rest of our day proved to be just as impactful. We were fortunate to have lunch with the second-year associates, who imparted words of wisdom and advice. We attended an inspiring program by the dynamic Werten Bellamy titled, “The Indispensable Associate.” I think it’s safe to say that we all used our newly attained mindfulness techniques to help internalize Werten’s powerful message. He gave practical and sound advice on how to take ownership of our careers and seize on opportunities to become an indispensable associate. Our first day would not have been complete without a 10@ with Marshall Pasternack to share insights and remind us that a shot not taken is a goal not scored. The day ended with a welcome happy hour at the very trendy and beautifully designed Wynwood restaurant Made in Italy. It was so great to be reunited with Jessica, Brendan and Anthony, and to reconnect with everyone at Bilzin Sumberg that had made our summer experience so impactful. With such a transformative first day, I can’t wait to see what the next two weeks has in store!

Anthony, Jennifer, Brendan and Jessica on their first day as associates
Anthony, Jennifer, Brendan and Jessica on their first day as associates

Today, we are delighted to welcome back the 2015 bloggers!  Jennifer, Jessica, Anthony and Brendan joined the firm today as first year associates.  With law school and the bar exam behind them, they are embarking on their legal careers and we are excited to begin this journey with them.  Their beginning also marks the beginning of an exciting new program at Bilzin Sumberg called The Academy for Professional Development.

Faced with a new generation of associates with a voracious appetite for hands-on training and a keen interest in becoming integral members of the community in which we practice, as well as new demands and expectations by clients that transcend conventional law school training, Bilzin Sumberg has established The Academy for Professional Development.

 

They’ll be blogging about it along the way and we can’t wait to share this experience with you!

 

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)

A picture of the Summer Associates at the Clam Bake (This is what happens when they wait until I already left to take a photo)
A picture of the Summer Associates at the Clam Bake (This is what happens when they wait until I already left to take a photo)

This is a story of survival. This past weekend, the Litigation Department was kind enough to invite the Summer Associates to a good ol’ fashion clam bake (or so we thought…). The following post details the experience of seven Summer Associates, thirty litigation attorneys, and one clam bake . . .

From the moment I entered Michael Kreitzer’s neighborhood, I realized that a number of challenges awaited me. Michael was kind enough to host the event at his  waterfront home that boasted picturesque views. Sounds incredible, right? Not so fast. I first had to survive the second most treacherous drive of my life (right behind Jenny driving us to the Marlins game last week). I was continuously distracted as my gaze was drawn towards the rows of yachts lining the bright blue water (think Odysseus and the Sirens). Luckily, I was able to snap out of my Miami Vice daydream in time to safely arrive at Michael’s. The danger had just only begun…

Continue Reading The Baking of the Clams

Dessert cart 1It was officially the second week of our Summer Associate Program, and our first fieldtrip was on the horizon–the Marlins Park tour and game, organized by the Land Use Practice. While Jerry, Jared, and Leah are renowned for their coordinating abilities (matching Clambake outfits), our class is well on its way to dethrone them. We met at 5:30 P.M. sharp (sort of), and four brave souls banked on me getting them safely to the ballpark (already taking heart in light of the upcoming Poker Tournament).

A couple of wrong turns and attempts at parking later, we made our way to the park entrance. “Not so soon,” said the universe, as Frankie realized he had left his ticket at the office. If you have known Frankie for approximately a week, you are more than confident in his ability to finesse his way through impromptu interviewing, subleasing gone wrong, and just about anything else. To no surprise, Frankie soon joined us on the Marlins Park tour, precisely in time to get a glimpse of the Clevelander pool area. Continue Reading Take Me Out to the Dessert Cart

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