The second day of The Academy highlighted a common theme attributable to the success of the professionals I have encountered: unwavering dedication to improving our community. Representative David Richardson is such an example. We had the pleasure to learn of Mr. Richardson’s contributions to the reform of Florida’s correctional system. His commitment and passion materialized into actual changes in the system. The attorneys at Bilzin Sumberg are no different; they have shared with us valuable insight into their careers and the choices that have lead them to success. Fueled by their desire to implement changes that would improve our beloved city, our attorneys have made a significant impact in Miami and forged valuable relationships along the way.

A significant part of the legal profession involves engaging with your community and developing your network. As such, Scott Baena, Brian Bilzin, Jennifer Junger, and Anthony De Yurre shared with us invaluable advice based on each of their unique networking strategies and experiences. Similar to the commitment necessary to impact your community, developing worthwhile relationships requires an investment of your time and efforts. As first-year associates, we are interested in refining our networking skills to ensure that we maximize the opportunities to expand our network. In our networking seminar, we learned of various opportunities and methods to develop valuable relationships based on the experiences of Bilzin Sumberg attorneys who are all at different stages in their careers. “Working a Room” involves taking a real interest in the discussion with individuals whom you want to learn more about, as well as a continuing desire to develop such relationships.

We concluded our second, eventful day of The Academy with happy hour at the SLS Brickell. We had the opportunity to catch up with the attorneys in our Recruiting Committee, as well as implement some of the networking strategies we learned. Scott Baena and Jay Sakalo shared with me some wonderful stories about the history of Bilzin Sumberg. The history of our firm zeroed in on many of the takeaways from our course offerings during day 2 of The Academy – making a meaningful impact on your community and cultivating relationships can lead to great success.

 

I can say with confidence that our first day as associates at Bilzin Sumberg was unique. Thanks to Hurricane Irma, Jenny and I started our careers at Bilzin Sumberg a week later than planned. Although this resulted in a lot of rescheduling of The Academy, it made for a very exciting beginning! Our first day focused on community, charity, and managing our time to maximize giving back to Miami as well as personal growth.

First, we met with members of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation who spoke to us on finding that cause that makes us “tick.” We talked about the values that motivate us and the multitude of ways that we can contribute to our city. They stressed the importance of finding an organization where we can both make a valuable impact and gain personal fulfillment and enjoyment.

Later we drove over to Goodwill Industries. I was astounded at what this organization has accomplished. Going beyond its mission of vocational training and placement of people with disabilities, the South Florida division of Goodwill has created several of its own businesses where intellectually and physically disabled people can work. We got to see this social entrepreneurialism in practice on our tour of the facility, where Goodwill employees make Army uniforms and assemble inserts for the Miami Herald. We also had the opportunity to talk with David Landsberg, the CEO of Goodwill South Florida, about the organization’s history and initiatives.

After we visited Goodwill, we headed to lunch at Soya & Pomodoro and met up with members of the Land Development & Government Relations practice group. After a delicious Italian lunch we walked over to the Brightline. We put on our boots, hardhats, gloves, vests, and goggles, and were ready to tour the construction site that will soon be the Miami hub for the high speed train connecting Miami to Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, and Orlando. I had never been to a construction site before, and it was fascinating to see the bare bones of a major project from the inside. It is going to be absolutely incredible when it is completed, not to mention the convenience and innovation it will bring to Miami.

Our last meeting of the day was with Juan Martinez, Vice President/Chief Financial Officer of the Knight Foundation. He spoke to us about the plethora of incredible initiatives the foundation is a part of, from funding the arts to hiring and encouraging others to hire minority and women-owned investment banking firms. He explained that the Knight Foundation looks to invest in ideas and opportunities that will be a catalyst for more change. We learned that we can translate this to our own individual experience, by choosing to invest our time where there will be a big and lasting impact.

Although all were unique, each of the organizations we met with today taught two consistent lessons. First, there is always time to give to causes that matter to you, you just have to make sure you utilize it. Second, find a cause that truly brings you joy, and success will follow. Our first day reminded me that the legal profession is more than what goes on within the firm, and to be a great lawyer you must be involved in the community you live in. To say I was inspired would be an understatement, and I cannot wait to join some of these great organizations and get to work!

 

With the summer program behind us and OCI season in full swing, we are starting to get excited around here!  The first year associates will be joining us in just under two weeks and we have The Academy ready and waiting for their arrival.  This year’s programming promises to be as impactful and meaningful as last year.
The impending arrival of the newest Academy members has us eager to share insights into the program through the video posted below.  Over the next few weeks, Elise and Jenny will be sharing their experiences in the program on our blog.

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

The first year associates with Judge Thornton after taking their oath.
The first year associates with Judge Thornton after taking their oath.

Today was an exciting day!  Not only did our first year associates conclude their participation in The Academy for Professional Development, they also became members of The Florida BarJudge Thornton graciously took time to talk to us about civility, ethics and motion practice.  With family, friends and loved ones present, Judge Thornton then administered the Oath of Attorney.

We hope that over the past two and a half weeks, we filled the hearts and minds of Jennifer, Jessica, Anthony and Brendan.  They’ve seen great need and innovation in our community and we can’t wait for them to embark on their legal careers and grow to become leaders in our community.

As part of the summer associate experience, Bilzin Sumberg coordinates tag-along opportunities for the summer associates to attend. This week, Elise and I witnessed Al Dotson represent Related Urban Development Company before the County Commission. Hundreds of Liberty Square residents stepped up to the podiums to remind those present of the exigency of the approval of the redevelopment. Continue Reading One Step Closer

Last week, Jenny and I had the opportunity to attend the 2016 Federal Court Observer Program. The program was created by the Honorable Paul C. Huck, a Southern District of Florida Federal Court Judge. Every summer he invites law students working in Miami to the federal courthouse to interact with federal judges and local attorneys as well as hear from them through panels on various topics. The morning began with breakfast and registration where both Jenny and I got to catch up with friends from law school who are also working in Miami this summer.

 

Continue Reading Order in the (Federal) Court (Observer Program)!

With three weeks down and six to go, the summer is in full swing. We are getting the hang of balancing assignments and social events while also getting to know the attorneys and each other. Last week, the ladies of the summer associate class got to join the women attorneys of Bilzin Sumberg in volunteering for United Way and the Lotus House. The Lotus House is a Miami organization that provides shelter for homeless women and children. Not only do they provide shelter, the Lotus House gives these women training, education, and resources to improve their lives.

The particular event we attended was Women Helping Women, which is part of the United Way Women’s Leadership group. There were so many women from a variety of local community organizations there to volunteer for the Lotus House. If that wasn’t inspiring enough, Georgette, a Lotus House alumnus, spoke to us about how the organization lifted her and her young daughter out of poverty only three years ago. She now holds a position at the Lotus House and was recently promoted. Her story left tears in our eyes and truly exemplified the impact the Lotus House has on women, children, and our greater community.

Continue Reading Ladies Night for the Lotus House

This past Thursday, at around 5:03pm (so as to be fashionably late), the summer associates started making their way down to the 14th floor terrace to attend the quarterly Cross-Department Social Enhancement Event. While the event started slow, the terrace was soon packed with a little over a quarter of Bilzin Sumberg’s attorneys, including several partners.  Topics of conversation ranged from predictions about Thursday night’s Heat game, which were sadly almost all proven wrong, to the differences in lifestyles of transactional lawyers and litigators.

As summer associates, the event was an opportunity to learn more about, and network with, Bilzin Sumberg’s attorneys in an informal setting. But to us, the event was far more than a networking opportunity. The event embodied two of the many factors that drew us to Bilzin Sumberg in the first place: work-life balance and sense of community.

While speaking with Kyle Morabito, a former summer associate and real estate associate, about Bilzin Sumberg’s real estate practice, I asked him how he had the time to attend the event. He explained that at the beginning of a given week, he usually knows what he has to accomplish for the week, as the attorneys he collaborates with and the attorneys who assign him work are clear and realistic about expectations. Kyle explained that this gives him the flexibility to work late when he can so that he has the ability to leave early on occasion.

The event was one of many that Bilzin Sumberg holds regularly to foster the firm’s sense of community. However, the firm’s sense of community extends far beyond the social events it holds. As Marshall Pasternack made it a point to stress upon extending our offers, when the firm hires an associate it hopes to be hiring a future partner. In our first few weeks at the firm, we have quickly realized that Bilzin Sumberg is not only a law firm, but a community that is committed to our long term success.

 

On the very first day of the summer, managing partner John Sumberg met with the summer associates to talk about the firm, its history, and its vision. One of the very first things he told us about was the importance of Bilzin Sumberg’s deep commitment to the community. 

Through Bilzin Sumberg Cares, the firm is involved with the Special Olympics, Habitat for Humanity, Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America, 100 Black Men of America, and numerous other non-profit organizations.

This past Friday, the summer associates, joined by over 30 other summer associates from across Miami, volunteered with Habitat for Humanity to help build a home in Miami’s Liberty City neighborhood. Many of us were tired, waking up just hours after the Miami Heat became World Champions, but once we arrived at the site we became energized, realizing that we would be instrumental in providing a home for a family in need.

Under the supervision of Habitat’s full-time builders, our goal was to build the frame for the walls of the home. David De La Flor volunteered to cut the wood while the rest of us got to hammering.

Shalia Sakona, Jessica Buchsbaum, David De La Flor, Veronica Gordon, Michael Levine, Kyle Morabito & Amy Podolsky
house group

Hard at work!

Shalia Sakona, Veronica Gordon & Amy Podolsky
guys

Michael Levine, David De La Flor, Kyle Morabito

veronica carrying wood

Veronica Gordon

shalia carrying wood

Shalia Sakona hauling lumber!

michael veronica and david

Michael Levine, Veronica Gordon & David De La Flor

michael building

Michael Levine

kyle hammering

Kyle Morabito

David sawing

David De La Flor

kyle moving walss

Kyle Morabito moving walls!

amy hammering

Amy Podolsky

veronica hammering

Veronica Gordon

amy taping

Amy Podolsky

David hammering

David De La Flor

The volunteer opportunity with Habitat for Humanity was continuing not only a summer associate tradition at Bilzin Sumberg, but a firm-wide tradition. Bilzin Sumberg provides financial support, commits volunteers to construction, and each year donates over $150,000 in legal services to Habitat for Humanity. I know I speak for the other summer associates when I blog that this was a gratifying way to end the week.