IMG_0183Alex, Hannah, and Lauren had a chance to volunteer Wednesday night at Casa Valentina, but on Friday all the summer associates (along with Jessica Buchsbaum and Betsi Cobas) came together to give back to the community by volunteering at Feeding South Florida (FSF).  FSF is a non-profit organization dedicated to serving the hungry; it rescues 44 million pounds of food per year, as well as leads hunger and poverty advocacy efforts throughout Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade, and Monroe Counties.

We all got up early to drive to Hallandale Beach, where FSF has a sorting warehouse. Once we arrived, we were directed into an orientation room, where we were told to sign in and sit down. There were many summer associates from other South Florida law firms there to volunteer; each of us recognized some familiar faces from law school.  Joe Baldelomar, FSF’s Volunteer Coordinator, entered the room and told us about FSF’s mission and methods.  He also shared some harrowing facts about hunger in South Florida, including that 1 in 5 children go to bed hungry in the region.

Joe explained the process of how donated food is distributed to the hungry.  Donated food is first brought to a FSF warehouse, where it is then inspected, sorted, and shipped away to be distributed in various communities throughout South Florida.  We were there to help in the inspection and sorting process.  Joe concluded his presentation, and we were directed into another larger area of the warehouse, where donated food is stored. Continue Reading Feeding South Florida

IMG_9272Early in our tenure here, we learned how much Bilzin Sumberg likes to give back.

Yesterday, the women of Bilzin Sumberg went to the Casa Valentina shelter as part of a United Way volunteer project. Casa Valentina is a shelter for former foster care and homeless youth. The shelter serves as a transition tool for its residents to learn to live and thrive independently. For weeks, the firm has collected cleaning supplies to donate to the shelter as housewarming gifts for new and current residents. Last night, the women of Bilzin Sumberg went to United Way to arrange baskets for the residents. We were joined by a room full of women from other firms around the city. Karyl and Salome showed Hannah, Lauren, and me the ropes packing baskets, decorating them with ribbon, and writing cards to the residents. Continue Reading Bilzin Gives Back

Still life of a fly rod in a boat

Between assignments and events, I soon found myself in week 5 of the summer associate program at Bilzin Sumberg. Along with week 5 came the highly anticipated Rosa Mexicano summer associate lunch in the wonderful company of Mitch Widom, Jessica Buchsbaum, and the litigation associates. After hearing plenty of stories from alumni about this lunch, my fellow summer associates and I knew exactly what to expect–Mitch would order us margaritas, and we would love them.

Over tasty guacamole later, Mitch regaled us with stories about his fishing adventures in Alaska and made me even more excited about our awaited fishing trip. While Mitch’s wife broke fishing records on their trip to Alaska, I’ll settle for a catch hefty enough to cook for dinner post-fishing.

I was especially blown away by Mitch’s ability to turn his passion for fishing into the Keymorada Invitational Fly-Spin Tournament. The tournament’s proceeds go to the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America and the UM Crohn’s & Colitis Center. Bilzin Sumberg’s devotion to the well-being of its community continues to inspire me everyday.

This week was by far the quickest, which says a lot considering how quickly nine weeks came and went as summer associates at Bilzin Sumberg. On Tuesday, we closed our summer-long Mock Real Estate deal with signatures and ceviche. Even after the exercise I think we’ll always question whether the other side really did get the better deal of the vacant-lot Brickell property. That night, the five summer associates went to our last group dinner where we declared unofficial superlatives ranging from “Most Likely to Be the Earliest to Every Event” to “Best Dressed” and importantly, “Cleanest Car.”

Later in the week, we participated in the Land Development and Governmental Relations practice group event at the Chapman Partnership. Armed with hairnets and aprons, we served dinner to the homeless for two hours. Notably at the front of the food line was Al Dotson, scooping mashed potatoes like a pro. The work we did was unannounced, but certainly appreciated. Walking out of the Chapman Partnership to “Thank You’s” made the event well worth it. We finished the night at Proof Pizza & Pasta where we enjoyed locally brewed beer and great food with the department. We also had the chance to talk about upcoming projects and cases some of the attorneys will be involved with.

Thursday night we were invited to Marshall’s home for a summers’ end dinner. We reminisced on the summer and shared stories from office trip-and-falls to our celebrity look-alikes. The last we left it, Jay was deciding between One Direction and N.W.A. for his personal favorite artist.

On our last day in the office, we finished up ongoing assignments and had our last days’ lunch together with our mentors. Reminiscing on the summer again was inevitable, but the stories we could (and did) share were endless. People we’ve known for such a short time have become mentors, and friends. The time the five of us spent together this summer has taught us so much, from balancing a workload to forging new relationships and more. Summer 2015 did more than manage our expectations, it exceeded them.

On the first day of summer, we sat in the Bilzin Sumberg boardroom with Marshall Pasternack and Jessica Buchsbaum. Marshall was telling us that the summer program would fly by before we knew it. Well, here we sit nine weeks later and his words have proved prophetic.

The summer experience has been fulfilling in a number of different ways. We were all exposed to work that forced us to critically think about complex legal issues. Experienced attorneys–from senior partners to associates–helped us with our work, providing us with guidance and invaluable feedback, and inviting us to join them on tag-alongs. We participated in simulations designed to expose us to some types of work otherwise inaccessible to summer associates. Finally, we each selected assignments that were interesting to us, which allowed us all to experience what practicing is like in each of Bilzin Sumberg’s different departments.

We made professional and personal connections with people throughout the firm. It started with our mentors, who were a tremendous resource for all of us. The summer associate program was full of social events designed to allow us to meet attorneys in a non-workplace setting, and we found attorneys more than happy to engage with us on a personal level. We were able to witness first-hand the commitment that Bilzin Sumberg has to giving back to the community through Bilzin Sumberg Cares, and how important giving back is to our firm.

The summer program was a tremendous experience. It was well-organized and well-executed from beginning to the end. My experience would not have been the same without the people that shared it with me every step along the way: Leah, Desiree, Jared and Moshe. What started as just work friendships has turned into something much more meaningful, and I couldn’t have picked a better group of people to have spent the summer with.

 

This past Wednesday evening, the summer associates and several other Bilzin Sumberg employees volunteered to serve meals at the Chapman Partnership‘s Miami Homeless Assistance Center. It was a rewarding and meaningful experience for all in attendance. Chapman Partnership seeks to empower homeless men, women, and children to build a positive future by providing the resources and assistance critical to growth and independence.

Chapman Partnership operates two Homeless Assistance Centers with 800 beds located in Miami and Homestead. The organization provides a comprehensive support program that includes emergency housing, meals, health, dental and psychiatric care, day care, job training, job placement, and assistance with securing stable housing. Since 1995, Chapman Partnership has had more than 98,000 admissions, including 20,000 children in Miami-Dade County, and a 63% success rate of moving people from homelessness to self-sufficiency.

The Bilzin Sumberg volunteers proved to be a fantastic team outside of the office as well. Several volunteers formed an assembly line behind the cafeteria counter and put together dinner trays containing chicken, mashed potatoes, bread, corn, and dessert. Other volunteers served these trays.  According to Rafael Ribeiro, a Partner in Bilzin Sumberg’s Litigation Group, Jerry Goldsmith was the “MVP of the night” because he “kept the supply lines open and took an undue amount of abuse from all of us!”

Nadia Kruler, an associate in Bilzin Sumberg’s Tax Group,  arranged for Bilzin to participate in the volunteer opportunity. Nadia first became involved with Chapman Partnership in 2011 when a colleague and close friend invited her to volunteer at a meal service. Nadia continued volunteering at events and shortly thereafter joined the Nextgen Council. Nextgen is a group of young professionals that works to increase awareness, revenue, and advocacy for Chapman Partnership. Nadia now serves as the Vice Chair of Service and Advocacy for Nextgen.

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Rafael Ribeiro and Marty Steinberg.

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Bilzin Sumberg Cares.

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Scott Baena and Leah Aaronson.

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Moshe Zaghi and Nadia Kruler.

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From Left to Right: Jared Spector, David De La Flor, Michael Levine and Rafael Ribeiro.

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The Bilzin Sumberg volunteers after the meal service.

Last Friday, the summer associates (with special guest and renowned former summer associate blogger, Mike Levine) participated in a Community Service Project Day by assisting with The Virginia Key Restoration Project hosted by Citizens for a Better South Florida, a service learning program to restore the endangered coastal ecosystem on Virginia Key.  This project began after Hurricane Andrew ravaged the landscape in Virginia Key in 1992. Summer associates from South Florida firms participated in the event as well. Our group helped to propagate native plants in Virginia Key’s nursery, while others helped with clean-up of the coastline, or worked to remove invasive and exotic plant species. As always, Jessica Buchsbaum came prepared with water bottles, Gatorade, snack bars, fresh oranges, special-edition wet wipes, bug spray, gardening gloves, and sunscreen. Afterwards, we were led on a nature walk to learn more about the various ecosystems in the area. During the nature walk, we were able to see what the seedlings that we planted will eventually grow to become.  At the end of the day, there was delicious barbeque food catered by Shorty’s BBQ!

It was a great experience to work together outside of the office and get involved with the restoration and maintenance of such a valuable and beautiful natural area in Miami. From day one, the employees of Bilzin Sumberg have emphasized the importance of being actively involved in the community through the Bilzin Sumberg Cares initiative, and Friday was yet another example of the firm’s commitment to giving back and serving the Miami-Dade community.

Bilzin Sumberg Cares Logo
Desiree, Moshe, Jared and Leah showing off their orange smiles!

Desiree, Moshe, Jared and Leah showing off their orange smiles!

Jared and Leah digging up soil for planting

Jared and Leah digging up soil for planting

Jared Planting a Seedling

Jared Planting a Seedling

Michael, Jerry and Leah Planting Seedlings

Michael, Jerry and Leah Planting Seedlings

Moshe, Jared, Jerry, Desiree and Leah enjoying the nature walk on Virginia Key

Moshe, Jared, Jerry, Desiree and Leah enjoying the nature walk on Virginia Key

Enjoying the ice cream social farewell.

The first week of the summer associate program, Marshall Pasternack and Jessica Buchsbaum told us that the summer was going to fly by. Now, nine weeks later, I realize that they could not have been more right. My summer at Bilzin Sumberg has been an invaluable and unforgettable experience.

From the start, I was able to work on interesting and important assignments in a variety of practice areas because the firm encourages summer associates to work on projects from all practice groups. I worked with knowledgeable, skilled attorneys in Corporate, Tax, Real Estate, Litigation, Insolvency, and Land Use.

In addition, Bilzin Sumberg’s commitment to community involvement led us to participate in a host of enriching endeavors like the Virginia Key Restoration Project, a trip to the United Way of Miami-Dade, and a firm-wide “jeans day” to support the National Alzheimer’s Association. Fun and exciting social events like bowling and baseball were also on the summer calendar.

Two other highlights of the summer program: the mentor-mentee relationship and the Real Estate Mock Transaction. The firm provides mentors to help guide the summer associates, and I could not have been paired with a more perfect mentor (thank you Jessica!). In addition, the Mock Transaction allowed the summer associates to see and participate in a real estate transaction from beginning to closing.

And after nine weeks as a summer associate, my most difficult task has been trying to fit all of my amazing experiences into one blog post.

Remember the first day?

Created six years ago, Bilzin Sumberg Cares is a community involvement program that provides Bilzin Sumberg’s attorneys, staff and their families with opportunities to work together to benefit local South Florida organizations. This Tuesday, we were introduced to the program with a visit to one of the organization’s partners, United Way of Miami-Dade.

At our visit to the United Way, we described our past experiences in volunteering. It was great to hear about my peers’ interests, but it was even better to know Bilzin Sumberg is committed to shaping our South Florida community in more ways than one. At the end of our visit, Marshall reminded us: Being a lawyer is what you do. What you all just described, your experiences volunteering, is who you are.

In addition to United Way of Miami-Dade, Bilzin Sumberg Cares also partners with organizations like the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America, the Miami-Dade Special Olympics, Voices for Children Foundation, Habitat for Humanity of Greater Miami, and numerous other non-profit organizations. For the summer class of 2013, we will start our commitment next Friday. We have chosen to donate all funds from an office-wide “jeans day” to support the National Alzheimer’s Association.