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. 

 

With Week 9 (wow!) officially underway, the 2018 Bilzin Sumberg summer associates are getting ready to close out the summer. The summer associate program has provided us with an immersive, meaningful, and fun experience that we will always remember and that will help us to have a foundation when we ultimately begin our legal careers. At the outset, I need to thank Jay Sakalo, Jessica Buchsbaum, and Betsi Cobas for orchestrating such a remarkable itinerary for us. I would also like to thank my fellow summer associates, Eric, Brianna, Lucas, and Devin, for all of their friendship and support throughout the course of the summer. Further, all of the attorneys and staff at Bilzin Sumberg truly welcomed us with open arms and made us feel comfortable, and for that I am extremely grateful. Here are some of my favorite moments/assignments from this summer to provide some highlights:

1) Wynwood Culinary Tour with the Litigation Practice Group-Despite some rain, this event was amongst my favorite this summer due to the outstanding food, beautiful views, and amazing company. The chance to spend extended time with the attorneys in litigation over food and drinks was definitely a high point.

2) Work on Deposition Prep by Creating an Outline-This was my favorite assignment over the summer. With a deposition coming up, I was given the opportunity to review certain key documents, develop questions for the witness based on them, and outline the format of the deposition for use by the deposing attorney.

3) Mentorship from Shalia Sakona-Undoubtedly, I would not have enjoyed the summer nearly as much as I did without my associate mentor, Shalia. From the first week, Shalia made herself available to me for any and every question I might have, and consistently took time out of her (extremely) busy schedule to sit down with me and review my work.

4) Overall Experience in the Office-I can confidently say that there is no other firm in Miami that mixes a fun, engaging atmosphere with legal work at the highest level like Bilzin Sumberg. Every day brought a new challenge, but we were guided and surrounded by incredible attorneys, mentors, and staff every step of the way.

 

I could not have drawn this summer up any better if I had tried. All in all, these 9 weeks helped me to create lasting memories and relationships, develop critical legal skills, and get to know the ins and outs of Bilzin Sumberg!

Next week is the ninth and final week of the Bilzin Sumberg summer associate program.   As it winds down, we are finishing our remaining assignments, adding final lunches to the calendar, and preparing for vacation…or for some us…the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE)!  But the past eight weeks have been amazing, and each of us has had invaluable opportunities to gain early exposure to the practice of law, develop our professional skills, and build relationships.  Below is a brief summary of my experience.

Assignments:  I have worked under the supervision of attorneys from multiple practice groups.

  • Real Estate: My assignments here included (1) drafting an amendment to a purchase agreement; (2) drafting and revising specific provisions of a consulting agreement; (3) researching and summarizing financial covenants, permitted transfers, and guarantees for loan transactions; and (4) assisting with two commercial real estate closings.
  • Corporate: My assignments here included (1) researching and summarizing Florida default rules pertaining to specific partnership disputes; (2) researching Florida and Delaware mandatory rules pertaining to limited liability companies and limited partnerships; and (3) assisting with due diligence tasks for a corporate acquisition.
  • Litigation: My assignments here included (1) researching case law regarding the requisite standards for declaratory judgment in order to defeat a motion for declaratory judgment; and (2) conducting a thorough review of foreign corporate documents in order to gather evidence of an antitrust price-fixing scheme among co-conspirators.
  • Land Use: My assignment here included researching Miami-Dade County ordinances and administrative orders pertaining to the private-development on county-owned land.

Events:  The networking events this summer have been plentiful and rewarding.  From preparing meals at a Coral Gables restaurant to volunteering at a homeless shelter in Miami, we have had opportunities to have fun and give back to our community.

Mentorship:  I want to be sure to highlight this aspect of the summer program.  Each summer associate is assigned an attorney mentor who is responsible for providing advice and guidance throughout the summer.  And all of our mentors have done a phenomenal job in making themselves available to us and looking out for our best interests.  With that being said, I want to give a special thanks to Chris Pierson for his service as my attorney mentor for the past two summers!

 

In summary, it has been an absolute pleasure to work here as a summer associate for the past two summers.  I have learned a lot, built invaluable relationships, and discovered a strong passion for a particular area of the law.  Now that I’m aging out of this whole law school thing, I look forward to stepping into the next phase of my legal career.  Stay tuned!

Last Friday, the Summer Associates attended the Federal Court Observer Program at the Wilkie D. Ferguson Federal Courthouse. This event is hosted every year by the Honorable Paul C. Huck, a Senior U.S. District Judge for the Southern District of Florida, and provides a forum for law students working in South Florida to learn and network with judges and attorneys practicing in the area.

 

Our day began with a moot court argument between four law students regarding a motion hearing in Fresh Results, LLC v. ASF Holland, B.V. et al–a case that is actually before Judge Huck right now. This experience was great because we were able to witness how a Federal judge reasons through competing debates during oral argument. After, there was the “From Law Student to Young Lawyer” panel. Young lawyers from various different law firms gave their personal advice on how to succeed as a summer associate and practical steps we can take today to better situate ourselves for a successful career. The next panel, “How to Keep Partners Happy,” was my favorite segment of the morning. There, partners at some of the largest law firms in Miami gave advice about what they are looking for in a junior associate. They gave us real stories of characteristics that really made a particular associate stand out or, contrarily, fall behind. The event ended with a panel from U.S. District Court Judges about their daily lives and general anecdotes about the things they see from the bench. The judges included Judge Altonaga, Judge Bloom, Judge O’Sullivan, and Judge Huck.

Though the end of the summer program is fast-approaching, Bilzin Sumberg continues to make sure that us summer associates get to spend quality time with our colleagues outside of work. This past Wednesday, the summer associates and the attorneys from the Corporate practice group headed out to Top Golf! We were all very excited as we arrived at the center and could see the massive field with colorful, light-up targets synced to the beat of music playing in the background.  Suspended on the third floor, we each took turns practicing our swings. Though no matter the amount of practice, there were those who will not be named that continuously missed the golf balls with their swings, which provided another source of entertainment.

The time in-between turns also gave us all the chance to talk with and get to know one another. We got to ask questions about the corporate world and find out what exactly a corporate lawyer does, a topic rarely delved into in law school. Particularly, Devin and I got the opportunity to speak with partner at the firm Jose Sariego on his perspective on how corporate deals have changed over time and his experience of transitioning from the litigation world to corporate.

I would also be remiss if I didn’t highlight partner at the firm Jay Sakalo and his incredible score at the end of the night of over 150 points per game.  Unlike the actual sport of golf, the higher the points the better at Top Golf. Though to be fair, Sakalo is an avid golfer on his own time, an advantage that was clearly used that night. Overall, it was a night of fun and laughter as we were surrounded with never-ending chicken and steak tacos and good drinks.

(L to R, Ben, Brianna and Devin)
(L to R, Eric, Lucas, Christopher Pierson, David Resnick)

 

One of my primary objectives coming into the summer was to establish a plan of action for my future, both at Bilzin Sumberg and in the Miami community. Of course, at the top of the list was figuring out which of the firm’s prestigious Practice Groups I would prioritize, but I also wanted to put myself on a path to career development and community entrenchment that would carry me for the duration of my career. Over two-thirds of the way through the summer, I can confidently say that the summer associate program has helped me to accomplish this goal through meaningful work with substantive feedback and consistent attorney mentorship opportunities. Everyday has proven to be a new chance for us to learn, grow, and have fun, and Bilzin Sumberg could not be more welcoming in helping us to feel at home while providing us with a  practical dose of real legal work. Continue Reading Learning from Lawyers over Lunch: The Life of a Summer Associate

The summer has flown by, and we officially have three weeks left before the summer associate program concludes!  As summer associates, we have each taken on a breadth of assignments among the various practice groups.

In general, the attorneys post assignments in a centralized database from where we select projects.  Each assignment contains a description of the specific task, projected hours, and estimated deadline.  But we also have opportunities to actively seek out assignments from specific practice groups or attorneys.

I have experienced these opportunities myself.  For example, I am currently working with Suzanne Amaducci-Adams and Myles Burstein from the Real Estate practice group on different tasks through the various phases of a commercial real estate sales transaction.  I have also worked with Adam Lustig from the Real Estate practice group to create a Critical Dates List and draft an amendment to a Purchase and Sale Agreement.  Finally, I am working with Marty Schwartz from the Real Estate practice group and Audrey Ellis from the Commercial Mortgage-Backed Securities (CBMS) practice group on researching and summarizing financial covenants and transfer provisions from multiple loan agreements for a client who securitizes commercial loans.

The opportunities to get involved and learn about the various practice areas are plentiful. And although the summer flies by quickly (as it always does), the substance of the assignments we take on are invaluable for our development as future attorneys.

Bilzin Sumberg strives to make the summer associates an integral part of the team to see what it is like to work within the office. From participating in client meetings to tag-a-longs, Bilzin Sumberg makes the summer experience as realistic as possible. We can dabble in multiple practice areas to interact with several lawyers and better understand the firm’s culture; consequently, I’ve learned diverse tips from numerous Bilzin attorneys that have helped me grow as a summer associate.

Here are some quotes of advice I’ve noted that may be beneficial to an incoming summer associate:

  • Immerse yourself in the community in whichever way makes you happy. Get involved and be a citizen. –Scott Baena
  • Enjoy dabbling in different areas of the law and meeting as many people as you can. This will help you determine which group/practice area is the best fit for you. –Misbah Farid
  • Communication and effort are keys to success; you aren’t expected to know everything about the law. If you communicate and try your best to do things right that you have control over, you should be in good shape. –Elise Holtzman
  • Everything is a learning opportunity, get to know the people you’re working with, communication is key, and don’t forget to have fun. –Jennifer Junger
  • My advice to summer associates would be to be diligent, check your work product for accuracy and consistency, as if there will not be another layer of review before it goes to the client, and ask follow-up questions when necessary. –Jennifer Llano
  • You miss every shot you don’t take. Also, treat every person with courtesy and respect, no matter the job title. –Marshall Pasternack
  • Follow-up on assignments for feedback. And if you make a mistake, do not be afraid to ask for a 2nd chance. –Jay Sakalo
  • Communicate to the attorney every fork in the road you encountered in your research, which path you chose, and why you chose it. Do not be afraid to reach out, pick up the phone, and ask questions to vet your assumptions. –Eric Singer
  • Get as much exposure to as many different practice areas as you can because you may be surprised by what captures your interest. I would also take time to understand how the firm operates, learning the ins and outs of the firm’s operations will be more important than you think as a young associate. –Craig Thompson
(L to R, Eric, Devin & Lucas)

As the training phase of the summer program winds down, the Summer Associates are busy at work! We are currently working on a variety of projects assigned by attorneys from each practice group. Bilzin Sumberg has an assignment pool system that makes it very easy to work in the practice group of your choice and take on assignments that you never thought you would enjoy (or even knew existed)! I am currently working on projects in the Bankruptcy, Land Use & Zoning, Commercial Mortgage-Backed Securities (“CMBS“), and Commercial Litigation groups. As a 1L, this flexibility will allow me to find my passion in the law and have a concrete understanding of what each attorney does at the firm day-to-day. 

Bilzin Sumberg also has many mentorship opportunities that allow us to connect with lawyers throughout the firm. Continue Reading Training and Mentorship is the Name of the Game

It’s the middle of week 2 here at Bilzin Sumberg and things are starting to get serious. Now to be clear, the daily outings to lunch with a partner or associate are still in full swing and heavily taken advantage of, just served with a side of real world advice. On Monday, partner at the firm Jay Sakalo, took myself and two other summer associates out to lunch to the ever popular PM restaurant directly across the street. While discussions of baseball, football, and the real housewives were had, the topic of client acquisition was also touched upon. Jay Sakalo explained how Bilzin Sumberg prides itself in ensuring the social growth and networking capabilities of each of its associates. He explained the firm’s many programs designed to help associates foster relationships within the community that can then lead to business ventures in the future. I found this to be comforting as a summer associate seeing as how client acquisition is rarely talked about at school, and I therefore have little knowledge on the topic despite its importance in the legal world.

As if also sensing the written assignments we all had due, the firm’s summer associate legal writing program was held just in the nick of time. On both Monday and Tuesday, we had the pleasure of working with Susan McCloskey on our legal writing skills both in a general sense as well as through individual feedback. The other summer associates and I participated in several group exercises that included revising and editing excerpts under the guidance of McCloskey. With all of us working on major assignments and seeing how our writing assignments are impacting the cases we are working on, the work we did with Susan was much appreciated. All of the techniques we learned were so helpful and really had an impact on the way I plan to approach future writing assignments for the rest of the summer and my legal career.

Finally, I, along with two other summer associates, went out to lunch with associates Salomé Bascuñan and Sean M. Gleason.  As the host jokingly commented “welcome back,” we were seated at a table with a view of the outside terrace of PM restaurant. Topics ranged from childhood summer vacations in Chile and Haiti to Sean M. Gleason‘s stint in the Peace Corps.  More importantly, however, was Salomé Bascuñan and Sean Gleason‘s discussion of the different practice areas within the firm and specifically their experiences in the real estate group at Bilzin Sumberg. What was really great was their encouragement for us to participate in each practice group through assignments. It is such a nice feeling to know that Bilzin Sumberg allows us to explore multiple practices areas that we might be interested in and doesn’t box us into one practice group for the entire summer. With that thought in mind, I am truly excited for the projects ahead of me.