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

Bilzin Sumberg hosted a wine and cheese reception this Monday to celebrate LGBTQ Pride Month. “Celebrate” in this context has a double meaning. Brian Adler ran through the history of Pride Month and taught me aspects of the movement that I never considered. From Pride Month’s inception–beginning with the Stonewall Riot–members of the LGBTQ community have used positivity and acceptance as a form of resistance. My previous understanding was that the movement essentially served as a single-issue platform: to fight for the acceptance of gay marriage. But I was completely wrong. The community through Pride Month has successfully fought for greater HIV/AIDS research, for anti-discrimination legislation (such as the Matthew Shepard Act), for more inclusion of the LGBTQ community in the military, and various other initiative pushing for equality. There is much more work that needs to be done, but certainly a lot to celebrate. Continue Reading Happy Pride Month!

With the summer zooming by at Bilzin Sumberg, the summer associates and I have found ourselves in the next phase of the mock real estate transaction. Until now, battle lines were drawn with Eric and me playing the Seller and the Seller’s attorney and Devin, Lucas, and Ben playing joint Buyers and the Buyers’ attorney respectively in previous mock real estate negotiations.  Last week, however, a temporary truce was called with the introduction of the joint venture seminar.  In this new exercise, Devin, Lucas, and Ben continued to portray the company The Good Guys LLC composed of the Avengers. Instead, however, they were tasked to see things from the perspective of a Developer.  Eric and I, on the other hand, portrayed the mighty Starlord, also known as the leaders of the Guardians of the Galaxy. We were tasked with seeing from the perspective of a business partner. The seminar was expertly presented by Partner at the firm Marshall Pasternack and associate David Resnick, and we were all given a crash course on the pillars of joint venture contracts. We reviewed the key components of a joint venture and some of the essential elements necessary to make a joint venture succeed.  In this exercise, the venture was to build a super hero home base condo in Miami.

 

Prepared with the necessary tools, the summer associates and I came together to work on our first operating agreement. In the agreement, details like preferred returns and monetary distributions were discussed until both parties could come to an agreement. The exercise was definitely less intense as compared to the other negotiations that have occurred. It was obvious that both sides wanted to reach the end result of a good partnership, which helped the discussions to go smoothly.  Overall, it was a great exercise! However, things will definitely heat back up again once we return to our real estate transaction between The Good Guys LLC and the Bad Guy LLC!

This past Monday we experienced a wonderful opportunity to give back to our local community by volunteering at the Chapman Partnership‘s Miami Homeless Assistance Center. The Chapman Partnership provides food and shelter to approximately 5,000 homeless individuals and families on an annual basis. These homeless centers also assist with job training, job placement, and securing housing.

The Bilzin Sumberg team took part in fulfilling the Chapman Partnership‘s mission by serving meals, waiting tables, and maintaining the kitchen and cafeteria. It was an extraordinarily humbling experience for all of us, and we met absolutely amazing people who are seeking to build a brighter future for themselves and their families.

I personally met one such individual: a 16-year old local high school student who aspires to become an attorney one day. Speaking with this individual was very inspiring, and he maintained an extraordinarily positive outlook on his future despite his current challenges.

Bilzin Sumberg takes great pride in giving back to the local community on a regular basis, and I am proud to take part in this effort.

 

(L to R, Ben, Devin, Brianna, Lucas & Eric)

Unbelievable as it may seem to myself and the other 2018 Bilzin Sumberg summer associates, we are officially more than halfway through the program! Thus far, the summer has been full of exciting events, interesting assignments, and a multitude of opportunities to network with attorneys and develop our skills. One such opportunity came last Wednesday as we took a trip on the newly-operational Brightline train with members of the Real Estate and Land Use Practice Groups. Though at this point we have met almost all of the attorneys at the firm, the chance to get to spend time with them in a more intimate setting was extremely valuable and enjoyable. To start our voyage, Eric and I rode Miami’s Metro Mover, conveniently located just a block from Bilzin Sumberg‘s beautiful offices (and next to our favorite restaurant, Novecento), over to the Brightline station to catch our train from Miami to Fort Lauderdale. When we arrived, we met the rest of our group in the luxurious Select Lounge, where we enjoyed complimentary refreshments before boarding the train. Continue Reading The Summer (And the Train) Goes Flying By!

(L to R, Jessica, Eric, Lucas, Ben, Devin and Brianna)

Bilzin Sumberg provides opportunities to work together to benefit charitable organizations in South Florida and beyond.  The firm’s strong commitment to the community has constantly been conveyed.  This past Friday, our summer associate class took a break from assignments and volunteered at Feeding South Florida (FSF).  FSF is the sole Feeding America food bank serving Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade, and Monroe Counties; they have the largest service area in the state, serving 25% of the state’s food insecure population and rescuing 46 million pounds of food per year.

Once we arrived to the sorting warehouse, we had orientation and got separated into 4 groups: inspectors, runners, sorters, and builders.  The Bilzin Sumberg volunteers were inspectors, managing three tables in the inspection room.  We examined the donated food, threw out unusable food, and called for a runner to bring our inspected box to the sorters, who classified food into categories.  Lastly, we were provided with the number of meals we helped provide to families in need of food assistance that day, which was—drum roll, please—a whopping 35,000 meals.

 

To finish up another amazing week, Eric Singer invited the summer associates to go sailing together on Saturday.  During the trip, we saw the beautiful Miami skyline and the historical houses of Stiltsville.  His sailboat is great, the Miami views are great, but Eric is even greater for thinking to include us!  Thanks again, Eric!

 

Brianna Sainte