The first year associates, Jessica Buchsbaum & Scott Baena take a picture with Oksana Esberard after our Mindfulness Session

Thanks to the Academy, our first day as real attorneys was action-packed and eye-opening. Our long-waited reunions took place last night at the Welcome Dinner, so this morning we were able to dive right into the sessions. It started off with none other than John Sumberg and Al Dotson. John and Al welcomed us to the firm with words of wisdom and helpful insights into what we should be getting out of the week. Then, Scott Baena outlined the firm culture and emphasized how imperative cohesiveness of culture has been to the success of the firm. He also spoke about the value of collaboration and partnership. These remarks from some of the most senior partners at the firm dissolved feelings of nerves and replaced them with excitement for practicing law in such a thoughtful environment.

Next, we worked on our business development skills with Jim Cranston of Law Vision Group. Jim spoke about getting into the habit of maintaining relationships early on in our careers. After arming us with networking techniques, we role-played networking scenarios and learned how to properly approach developing business out of relationships.

Next, we had lunch with first and second year associates and spoke about the keys to success in those early years of working. We were able to ask candid questions and the associates spoke honestly about what they’ve done that has worked, what they’ve done that hasn’t worked, and what they wished they had known as entry-level associates.

We finished the day with a presentation on mindfulness. Oksana Esberard from SattvaMe gave us a crash course in how to identify and manage stress in the workplace. She spoke about body and breath awareness and the importance of remaining present in the moment. Finally, she led us through a meditation exercise. I left the session feeling rejuvenated, and with a newfound respect for mindfulness. I look forward to her other sessions throughout the week!

After a full day of training and information, I feel one step closer to being an effective attorney! I remain eternally grateful that Bilzin Sumberg emphasizes the importance of these ineffable aspects of the practice of law and doesn’t, as Al Dotson said, just “throw us into the ocean and tell us to swim.” I’m so excited to see what else the Academy has in store for us!

The Academy Happy Hour Day 1           Monday was a very special day for Jessica, Brendan, Anthony and me, as it marked the very first day of our legal careers! After spending the first half of our summer vigorously studying for the Florida Bar Examination, we each enjoyed well-deserved breaks afterwards. With two months of world traveling, beach-going, and catching up on much needed sleep behind us, we all felt refreshed and ready to embark on this new chapter: returning to Bilzin Sumberg as first-year associates! Knowing that we would be the very first class to have the privilege of going through The Academy for Professional Development made our return to Bilzin Sumberg all the more special.

Our first day was incredibly memorable. Despite it having been over a year since our summer associate program ended, walking back into Bilzin Sumberg felt as warm and welcoming as ever. We began the day with a welcome presentation from Managing Partner, John Sumberg, regarding the firm’s history, vision and commitment to community involvement throughout Miami. We then delved straight into our first interactive program of The Academy, led by University of Miami professor and mindfulness expert, Scott Rogers. This program introduced us to the practice of mindfulness, described as being present in the moment, rather than allowing outside thoughts to shift our focus and pull us away from the task at hand. We practiced meditation techniques to help quell outside thoughts that would otherwise interfere with our complete engagement in the present. Understanding that we are in control of our own thoughts was empowering. If we are practicing mindfulness, it is our choice whether we are focused or distracted. I can’t wait to incorporate these meditation techniques into my legal practice!

The rest of our day proved to be just as impactful. We were fortunate to have lunch with the second-year associates, who imparted words of wisdom and advice. We attended an inspiring program by the dynamic Werten Bellamy titled, “The Indispensable Associate.” I think it’s safe to say that we all used our newly attained mindfulness techniques to help internalize Werten’s powerful message. He gave practical and sound advice on how to take ownership of our careers and seize on opportunities to become an indispensable associate. Our first day would not have been complete without a 10@ with Marshall Pasternack to share insights and remind us that a shot not taken is a goal not scored. The day ended with a welcome happy hour at the very trendy and beautifully designed Wynwood restaurant Made in Italy. It was so great to be reunited with Jessica, Brendan and Anthony, and to reconnect with everyone at Bilzin Sumberg that had made our summer experience so impactful. With such a transformative first day, I can’t wait to see what the next two weeks has in store!