Summer in the Magic City

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

The final week of our summer associate program has suddenly approached us! Throughout the summer, my fellow summer associates and I have taken on a diverse array of assignments from all practice groups, attended multiple social events, and built invaluable relationships.

As a 1L summer associate, I am particularly grateful for the unique opportunity to grow as a professional with Bilzin Sumberg and gain early exposure to demands of the Miami legal market. Whether we just finished our first year or second year of law school, the assigning attorneys expect the highest standards of performance from each of us, and they do not hesitate to challenge us with complex assignments.

Taking on challenging assignments is what enables us to grow as future attorneys. For my very first assignment, for example, my initial task was to determine the most efficient means of serving process on a foreign corporation overseas when that corporation has no agent located in the United States. After conducting extensive research and discussing multiple courses of action with the assigning partner, a decision was made on where the complaint would be filed and on how the foreign corporation would be served. However, my involvement in this matter did not end there. My next task was to draft the complaint itself. Since a complaint is a document of first impression for the court, drafting a complaint is certainly no menial task.

Other assignments that I have taken on were equally as challenging and conducive to my legal development. These assignments have required me to research unique legal issues—from whether a corporate director breached his fiduciary duty to whether a stock transfer was complete. I have also written extensive legal memorandums, drafted letters to the county regarding government contracts, and drafted cease and desist letters.

Work is important, but so is building long-lasting relationships. Another unique aspect of our summer program includes the opportunity to do just that. This past June, for instance, Brian Adler graciously hosted us at his house for an amazing dinner, where he demonstrated his superior catering skills and expertise in fine wine. Furthermore, just last week we attended a Tax practice group event with Richard Goldstein at the Key Biscayne Yacht Club, where we enjoyed cocktails and socialized with the tax attorneys.

Overall, this summer has been a success. I am grateful for the opportunity to be a part of such an amazing team, and I look forward to what the future holds.

On Wednesday, we went to South Beach Room Escape with Bilzin Sumberg’s  Real Estate department.  For the uninitiated, the purpose of an escape room is to work together with others to solve puzzles, manipulate objects, and use reasoning to – you guessed it – escape a room within one hour.

There were three different rooms: Panic, Black Ops, and Diamond Heist.  Each room had a different theme.  In the Panic room, you are trapped in an operating room.  The Panic team was Alex, Luis, Jessica Buchsbaum, Marjie Nealon, Adam Lustig, Steve Simon, Alexis Kanarek, and Craig Thompson.  Lauren and Hannah were in the Black Ops room, in which they had to retrieve a secret chemical weapon.  Audrey Ellis, Jim Shindell, Kent Koch, Ali Lehson, Manny Gonzalez, and Brendan Studley filled out the Black Ops team.  I was in the Diamond Heist room with Eric, Suzanne Amaducci-Adams, Marty Schwartz, Alan Kazan, Phil Sosnow, Katy Yankowski, and Jared Spector.  Our objective, unsurprisingly, was to steal a diamond.

After a brief tutorial, we were herded into our rooms.  The moment the door closed, the countdown clock began ticking.  We scanned our surroundings to find a room filled with everything from footlockers and mailboxes to stationary bikes and barricades.  Behind barred doors and inside a locked container was our prize: a glittering diamond (made of the finest plastic).
Continue Reading South Beach Escape

The author, Luis Reyes, about to throw a strike!
The author, Luis Reyes, about to throw a strike!

No, this blog post is not about a proposed T.V. show spin-off; this blog post is about competition; this blog post is about camaraderie; this blog post is about bowling with the Bilzin Sumberg litigation department.

We all trickled in to Splitsville, a local bowling alley, at 7 p.m., where full bar service and a large buffet awaited. There was sushi, chicken, shrimp—and did I mention sushi? After about an hour of chatting and eating, we put on our bowling shoes, warmed up our wrists, and made our way to the bowling lanes.

The summer associates were all spread across the five bowling lanes, where we competed against the partners and associates for bragging rights of nabbing the highest score. Unfortunately for those with an affinity for the gutter ball, we decided not to use the lane bumpers.

I ended up on lane three, where the competition was scorching hot. Phil, Shalia, Desiree, Danielle, Ken, and I all jockeyed—some better than others—for the lead. Although I ultimately bowled one of my best games ever with a 137 (which doesn’t say a lot for me), I’ll admit, beginner’s luck played a huge part.

After saying that I had not bowled in years and that I would probably be “Mr. Gutter-ball,” I got two strikes at the outset! I found a growing confidence in my comfortable lead—a bad idea. The luck wore off soon enough. Before I knew it, Ken hit three strikes in a row (a “turkey”) and left me in the dust. And once Ken got going, he didn’t stop: with a score in the 170’s after game two, he earned the coveted highest score of the night.

We were all exhausted after a few hours of bowling and went off to the lounge area to relax. There, both the “winners” and “losers” of the night were treated to delicious chocolate brownies, which changed everyone’s concept of winning and losing. Let’s be honest—after chocolate brownies, we were all winners. And although I can say that, with a 137, I (barely) out-bowled my fellow summer associates, I can’t say I’ll be going from a career in law to one in bowling any time soon.

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.

 

tour“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” is a proverb Bilzin Sumberg’s Land Development & Government Relations Group lives by.

On Tuesday night, the attorneys took the summer associates on a culinary tour through Wynwood. We had all heard great things about this event and it definitely lived up to the hype.

A tour guide met us at Wynwood Walls, a restaurant, bar, and art gallery, where the walls serve as canvas for world-renowned artists. But these artists must love just the process of painting because all but a few of the walls are painted-over each year at the start of Art Basel!

tour guideBefore starting the tour, the guide told us a fascinating story of how the late Tony Goldman, a famous developer, transformed Wynwood from a neighborhood with a high crime rate and low property value into the art mecca that it is today. The history lesson was interesting, but the guide knew to keep it short and sweet. We were all waiting in anticipation for one thing: food.

Boy, it was worth the wait. The first stop of the culinary tour was Mister Block Cafe, a shopping center with different stores and restaurants. We sat at a long, cafeteria-style table and sampled delicious Argentinian empanadas. As we ate, Stanley Price and Eileen Ball Mehta captivated us with stories of Miami’s shakers and movers, and before anyone knew it, it was time to move along to the next stop. Thirty minutes had whizzed by in what seemed like only thirty seconds.

The food we tried next at GK Bistronomie made it next to impossible to pick a favorite dish at the end of the night: First up was fresh ceviche served in a spiced citrus juice, and after that, “lomo saltado,” a traditional Peruvian dish consisting of stir-fried sirloin strips served on a bed of rice and potatoes; I’m getting hungry just writing about it! We also had refreshing cocktails as the summer associates listened to the now-infamous story of how one of the attorneys once innocently mistook mojitos for a type of lemonade. Needless to say, the difference between the two is no longer lost upon said person.

The last stop, Concrete Beach Breweryknown for its creative brewslived up to its reputation. Once we arrived, the hostess brought us refreshing beer infused with passion fruit, and invited everyone to join an ongoing beer-pong competition. While we gladly accepted the ice-cold beer to fend off the heat, we all politely declined to join the beer pong competition. Undergraduate students may not have to wake up before noon, but lawyers do!

Land Use
Eileen Ball Mehta, Dalayna T. Craigman, Stanley B. Price, Cristina Lumpkin, Carly Grimm, Leah Aaronson, Albert E. Dotson, Jr., Daniel S. Goldberg, Brian S. Adler, Eric Singer, Javier F. Aviñó, Hannah Lidicker, Luis Reyes, Eric Reissi, Lauren Sabella, Alexandra Barshel and Forrest Murphy.

 

Building Relationships (2)We are reaching the midpoint of our summer program here at Bilzin Sumberg and each day continues to present new learning and networking opportunities! Building relationships is essential to fostering a strong workplace environment, and everyone here does a phenomenal job of ensuring that we summer associates are a part of the team!

One way we build relationships is by grabbing lunch with different attorneys—from junior associates to senior partners—on a daily basis. Since there is no shortage of places to eat in Miami, the biggest challenge is choosing where to go! In between conducting superior legal research, crunching out legal memorandums, drafting complaints, editing contract clauses, and attending client meetings with attorneys, we often find ourselves venturing around Brickell in search of food.

One such lunch included the renowned summer associate trip to Rosa Mexicano with Mitch Widom, where we indulged in guacamole, tacos and churros! Needless to say, the food coma may or may not have kicked in.

Gluttony aside, we certainly do not take for granted the opportunities we have to interact with Bilzin Sumberg attorneys and staff on a daily basis. Lunch is merely one way we accomplish this. Overall, everyone here does a wonderful job of going out of their way to introduce themselves or check up on us.

On that note, I will use this opportunity to recognize Anthony Sirven and my mentor, Chris Pierson—two remarkable individuals here at the firm. On many occasions, Anthony—a former summer associate himself— has taken the initiative to assist me and my fellow summer associates with our legal research and writing assignments. As my mentor, Chris has taken the initiative to invite me to internal firm meetings—including one related to the eMerge Americas conference here in Miami—and he also makes time for lunch at least once a week!

Fostering a strong and collegial workplace culture is important for ensuring future success. Based on what I have seen here thus far, I am very optimistic moving forward.

IMG_0181Disclaimer: The following story is a dramatization of true events. No summer associates were hurt in the making of this story.

It was May 28th, 2017, and the air was thick with excitement. The summer associates were preparing to participate in one of Bilzin Sumberg‘s most anticipated events. We were about to test our skills; we were about to test our luck; we were about to play Texas Hold ‘Em.

Members of three different departments met the summer associates in a conference room stacked with food, drinks, and three poker tables. As we all sat down, the dealers asked whether we had played Texas Hold Em’ before. Some said yes, others lied (just kidding­—I think). After the dealers gave a quick refresher course, the drama began. Everyone started out by playing conservatively and stuck to that game plan. Well, almost everyone.

I earned the lauded distinction of being the first to lose. As I got what would ultimately be my losing hand, the dealer asked if I knew a song by Kenny Rogers that says “You’ve got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em.” I told her I didn’t. This was foreshadowing at its finest.

I had a pocket pair of jacks—a pretty good hand—and thought I would surely take someone’s chips that round. Yet with each card the dealer revealed, the remote but possible chance materialized that someone could have a straight (five cards in sequential numerical order). It all came down to the last card dealt, “the river.” I thought my chances of losing were pretty slim. I decided to test my luck and went all in; it didn’t end well.

The summer associates made a strong initial showing, but one at a time, we began to fall. By the time the final table was set, only two of us remained. All of our hopes and dreams were riding on Alex and Forrest. Everyone gathered around the table and watched intently. Once again, fortunes would be won and lost on the river card.

Eventually the herd was thinned to two final players: Forrest Murphy and Josh Kaplan. Things got intense; I think someone even shouted “sweep the leg!” But when the dust settled, Josh emerged the winner and earned the spoils of victory: an Apple iPad. Yet like so many others at Bilzin Sumberg, Josh is all about giving back and donated his prize to Forrest. Then again, maybe the gift qualified as a tax-deductible charitable donation.

Unlike last year, no summer associate won the tournament, but we sure had a ton of fun! And perhaps more importantly, we learned why litigants so often settle rather than take their chances on a jury trial: You never know what the river holds.

The art of negotiation is an invaluable skill that many lawyers strive to perfect. Last week, we had an early opportunity to put our negotiation skills to the test during the initial phase of the Mock Real Estate Transaction. Led by Adam Lustig and Phillip Sosnow of the Bilzin Sumberg Real Estate Group, the Mock Real Estate Transaction is a summer-long training program designed to give summer associates early exposure to the main phases of a real estate deal.

The ultimate goal is to close a deal for the sale of land to be used for commercial purposes. Prior to the initial negotiation for the Letter of Intent, we were separated into two teams—Miami Beckham United LLC (buyers) and Not-So-Scary, LLC (sellers). Alex Roitman and Ali Lehson served as coaches to guide us and to ensure the negotiation session moved along smoothly…and believe me, their presence was absolutely necessary to quell a brewing dumpster fire when both teams conflated the inspection period with the closing period during the negotiation!

During the negotiation session, the atmosphere was extraordinarily intense. Representatives from both sides glared at each other from across the table with hawkish eyes, and each team conferred in plain sight in private (via ad hoc binder walls) to devise (and revise) bold strategies to keep the other team on its heels.

Okay, the atmosphere was not contentious, but it was still challenging to find compromise. Each side used its leverage to negotiate favorable terms related to the purchase price, inspection period, and closing period. After approximately thirty minutes of non-stop action, both sides finally agreed to terms within the Letter of Intent! Although the deal is not yet finalized, this initial success called for a celebration.

To celebrate, we attended a summer associate alumni event at Two Chefs. During this event, we had the opportunity to build camaraderie with attorneys who began their careers as summer associates at Bilzin Sumberg. We also had a chance to hang out with two of Bilzin Sumberg’s finest—Jay Sakalo and Jessica Buchsbaum!

IMG_0168

Supervised by the head chef, we demonstrated our superior cooking skills by preparing different dishes throughout various stations. Some of these dishes included—but were not limited to— the finest quinoa in town (prepared by Hannah Lidicker and Desiree Fernandez), perfect-to-the-crisp flatbread (prepared by Alexandra Barshel, Lauren Sabella, Jared Spector, and Leah Aaronson), perfectly-tenderized grilled steak (prepared by Forrest Murphey and yours truly), and the most upscale chocolate soufflé in South Florida (prepared by Luis Reyes, Shalia Sakona, and Jay Sakalo.

Now it’s time to put these newly acquired negotiation (and cooking) skills to use…