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!

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

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!

 

(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!

While trying a real case in court won’t happen for at least a few years, Benjamin, Devin, and I had the opportunity to visit the Miami-Dade County Courthouse on our first tag-along of the summer! Of counsel at the firm, Michael E. Strauch, was gracious enough to invite us on his trip to the courthouse. With his focus being the Commercial Litigation practice at Bilzin Sumberg, Michael was on his way to meet with a judge on a case he is working on. After a quick trip on the Metro Mover and a five minute walk, we were before the courthouse. The courthouse previously served as the county jail, a fun fact that Michael informed us of as we headed up the stairs leading to the entrance.

Once inside the 100-year old courthouse, we made our way in a historic elevator to the judge’s chambers. Once there, we were told that the particular judge we came to see was momentarily out and would be back within a 20-minute window. As such, we took the opportunity to witness an ongoing jury trial happening in the next room. With Michael leading the way, we quietly slipped inside the courtroom and took our seats in the back. The trial turned out to be a civil one in which the wife of the decedent was suing a tobacco company for wrongful death.  The wife’s husband died from lung cancer. As one would expect, a team of lawyers for the tobacco company sat to our left, each of them surrounded with laptops and boxes full of paper. We took our seats on the same side as the wife’s lawyer and furthest to the right sat a jury of six of her peers.  Interestingly, we came in during the middle of a direct examination of the wife in which she told her story of her husband’s long term battle of smoking addiction.  After about 15 minutes, we all returned to the judge’s chambers so that Michael could speak with the judge.

After the discussion was over, the four of us headed back to the office and reflected on our visit. For us three summer associates, it was the first time we had visited that particular courthouse, and I believe I speak for all of us when I say that we were lucky to have had that first experience at Bilzin Sumberg!

 

Towards the conclusion of last week, the 2018 Bilzin Sumberg summer associates began one of the stages of the annual summer associate program: the real estate mock transaction. This exercise will take us through all of the stages of an actual real estate transaction while providing us with a practical dose of legal practice as we take on the roles of buyer, seller, and each parties’ respective attorneys. I will be representing Devin and Lucas, who will serve as the buyers, and Eric will be representing Brianna, who will play the role of our seller. Our fact pattern is (loosely) based on the recent Marvel Avenger’s Infinity War movie, with the buyer’s working to purchase the last “Infinity Stone property” from the seller Thanos’ holding company, “THE BAD GUY LLC”. Devin, Lucas, and I are the only thing standing between Thanos and world domination! As per usual, Jessica Bucshbaum and Betsi Cobas did an outstanding job making the exercise especially interesting by creating a fun scenario for us.

Continue Reading Some Friendly Competition for World Domination

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.

With Week 2 underway and our time as summer associates ramping up, now is a good time to reflect on some of the events we attended towards the end of the whirlwind that was Week 1. After going through orientation and various trainings over our first two days, we began work on our first assignments on Wednesday. Given our neophyte status within the practice of law and our desire to develop strong practices from the beginning of our careers, Wednesday evening we were introduced to the library staff. Our firm’s Chief Knowledge Officer, Paul VanderMeer and the rest of the library team demonstrated for us all of the resources available at Bilzin Sumberg. However, this was not your typical night hitting the books; as we watched a presentation about the firm’s vast knowledge management system and were educated us as to how we can best take advantage of it, we enjoyed a Happy Hour with the staff. There is no question that what we learned will be invaluable to us as we move forward in our careers at Bilzin Sumberg.

Newly armed with more detailed knowledge on how best to attack our assignments, we truly dove in on Thursday before being treated to lunch on Thursday afternoon. The firm’s first-year associates, Elise Holtzman and Jennifer Llano, took the five summer associates out to lunch at Fi’lia, the restaurant at the SLS (conveniently located one block from our firm’s beautiful offices). Over some great pasta, Elise and Jennifer regaled us with tales of their time as summer associates and gave us practical advice on a host of relevant topics. We had a very enjoyable time and even managed to stay dry on the way back to work! Continue Reading A Sweet Start to Summer!