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. 

 

 

After practicing our meditation at home in the early morning, we started our second day of the Academy at Bilzin Sumberg with a presentation by Werten Bellamy, on the topic of the “Indispensable Associate.” Werten discussed the best ways for us, as new associates, to make ourselves valuable to the firm and to promote our personal growth as lawyers. What will our personal brands be as new associates? How will we learn the styles and communication preferences of the partners with whom we work? These are all questions we need to be asking ourselves as new attorneys, and I think that Werten provided us with truly useful tools to make these decisions.

After Werten’s presentation, we sat down for a roundtable discussion over lunch with representatives from Bilzin Sumberg’s five practice groups: Tax, Trusts and Estates, Land Use and Government Relations, Real Estate, Corporate, and Litigation. Each partner briefly discussed his or her group’s work and then filled us all in on a few recent projects. The firm has a ton of exciting cases and deals going on, many of which include several practice groups, so it was really interesting and useful to hear how the collaboration works. We also had the opportunity to ask questions about each practice.

Next, we heard from Eric Singer about best practices for billing our time and from Laura Galeano about leveraging and improving our social media presence before sitting down for a panel on effective networking. Elise Holtzman Gerson, Adrian Felix, Andrej Micovic, Scott Baena, and Brian Bilzin sat on the panel, with Sara Herald moderating. Their pointers and advice was different from what we heard from Werten, but echoed the idea that as junior lawyers we need to be taking initiative and looking for ways to distinguish ourselves. Even though we are only two days into the Academy, I am constantly reminded how lucky I am to be working at a firm that invests so much in its young associates and emphasizes our personal development to such a degree. Afterwards, we got to practice our new skills at a fun happy hour at Morton’s with the recruiting committee!

 

To say that the summer program has ended on a high is an understatement. Tuesday kicked off the showdown between team Sherlock and team Moriarty. I’m referring to one of the most anticipated summer events of the program, The Great Escape Challenge! The Real Estate practice group, along with us summer associates, split into two teams of eleven with the task of escaping a room full of puzzles with only an hour to do so.  Both teams were stacked with clever and intelligent players, letting us know it was going to be a close one as to who finished first. The escape rooms each had a theme, one being Sherlock and the other Moriarty. The puzzles included math equations, astronauts, laser beams, and scrabble.  In every corner there was a clue leading to another clue and another.  I had the privilege of serving on Team Moriarty. Though we escaped our room with over fourteen minutes to spare, Team Sherlock finished with a little over fifteen minutes. Though seeing as how we were told the Moriarty room was more challenging, I’m going to take that as a win!

 

With this being my last day at Bilzin Sumberg, I have now had a chance to reflect fully on this past summer.  I had such an amazing experience thanks to Jay Sakalo, Jessica Buchsbaum, and Betsi Cobas, all of whom worked together to make this summer program an awesome one.  Spending my summer at Bilzin Sumberg has been eye-opening and informative. It has led me to confirm that I made the right choice in picking Bilzin Sumberg to expand my knowledge in different legal practices and further my legal career. Most of all, the people here have been so welcoming and inviting. It is easy to see why people love working here. Thank you so much Bilzin Sumberg, until next time!

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!

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)

 

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!

 

(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, Lucas, Brianna, Devin & Ben)

Yesterday the Summer Associates joined the Litigation Group for a culinary and art tour in Wynwood. Wynwood is a neighborhood to the north of Downtown Miami that is known for its vibrant street art and incredible restaurants. Our tour started with the iconic Wynwood Walls. We saw murals from Shepard Fairey (creator of the Obama “Hope” poster), Kenny Scharf, Ron English, and many more. Admittedly ignorant of street art, I never viewed it as a “real” form of art. But on seeing the detail and the speed in which these artists create their works (each mural is created within a week!), my perspective immediately changed. A highlight of the tour was when Jerry Goldsmith, a litigation associate and lover of the arts, added his own eye-opening commentary on Lady Pink‘s mural, titled Resist. I also loved learning more about Wynwood, a neighborhood that has completely changed in the past decade.

We then proceeded to enjoy a wonderful meal at GK Bistronomie, a Peruvian restaurant. There, we ate lomo saltado, ceviche, and sipped on margaritas and Peruvian Moscow Mules. We ended the night with Italian gelato at Gelatte. Last night was a great time and really showed that the attorneys within litigation department at Bilzin Sumberg are both colleagues and friends.

 

 

It feels like we just started the Summer Associate Program yesterday, but we are already in our third week here at Bilzin Sumberg! During the past three weeks, each of us has had the opportunity to work on a diverse array of assignments from multiple practice groups. Some of these projects include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Lucas and Ben are working on a summer-long project with Andrej Micovic and Eric Singer from the Government Relations & Land Development Practice Group. Their assignment involves reviewing the procurement process for public-private partnerships and updating the relevant white papers.
  • Devin is working with Jay Sakalo from the Business Finance & Restructuring Practice Group. Her assignment involves researching the legal protections tenants are entitled to before the landlord files for bankruptcy and what the post-filing implications are for the tenants.
  • Brianna is working with Melissa Pallett-Vasquez and Lori Lustrin from the Litigation Practice Group. Her assignment involves analyzing and organizing court opinions and orders that reference favorable expert testimony regarding a product labeling case.
  • Finally, I am working with Jennifer Llano from the Corporate Practice Group. My assignment involves conducting due diligence for a corporate acquisition. My specific tasks include reviewing a Stock Purchase Agreement, analyzing the relevant corporate documents of the seller, and updating the Disclosure Schedule Form.

Although our development as Summer Associates primarily includes honing our legal research, writing, and transactional skills, it also includes honing our acquired tastes in fine wine.

This week, we accomplished that goal by spending the evening with the Tax, Trusts & Estates Practice Group, which graciously hosted us at Abaco Wines & Wine Bar in the Miami Design District. We enjoyed our evening conversing with the attorneys over glasses of Rose and Pinot Noir (with a collection of complimentary cheeses, of course).

But perhaps the biggest takeaway from these events is developing long-lasting personal and professional relationships. Throughout the summer, we will attend professional networking events similar to the wine bar social gathering this week. These are important because they give us an opportunity to really get to know the people here at Bilzin Sumberg. And in a firm setting, developing these relationships will go a long way.