After practicing our meditation at home in the early morning, we started our second day of the Academy at Bilzin Sumberg with a presentation by Werten Bellamy, on the topic of the “Indispensable Associate.” Werten discussed the best ways for us, as new associates, to make ourselves valuable to the firm and to promote our personal growth as lawyers. What will our personal brands be as new associates? How will we learn the styles and communication preferences of the partners with whom we work? These are all questions we need to be asking ourselves as new attorneys, and I think that Werten provided us with truly useful tools to make these decisions.

After Werten’s presentation, we sat down for a roundtable discussion over lunch with representatives from Bilzin Sumberg’s five practice groups: Tax, Trusts and Estates, Land Use and Government Relations, Real Estate, Corporate, and Litigation. Each partner briefly discussed his or her group’s work and then filled us all in on a few recent projects. The firm has a ton of exciting cases and deals going on, many of which include several practice groups, so it was really interesting and useful to hear how the collaboration works. We also had the opportunity to ask questions about each practice.

Next, we heard from Eric Singer about best practices for billing our time and from Laura Galeano about leveraging and improving our social media presence before sitting down for a panel on effective networking. Elise Holtzman Gerson, Adrian Felix, Andrej Micovic, Scott Baena, and Brian Bilzin sat on the panel, with Sara Herald moderating. Their pointers and advice was different from what we heard from Werten, but echoed the idea that as junior lawyers we need to be taking initiative and looking for ways to distinguish ourselves. Even though we are only two days into the Academy, I am constantly reminded how lucky I am to be working at a firm that invests so much in its young associates and emphasizes our personal development to such a degree. Afterwards, we got to practice our new skills at a fun happy hour at Morton’s with the recruiting committee!

 

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!

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.

Concept image of the six most common questions and answers on a signpost.

Our first week at Bilzin Sumberg came and went. We dined with attorneys, judged a baking contest, and attended firm events. Somewhere in the midst of that, we received our first few assignments. It only took a few days of working to realize how lucky we are to have so many resources available to help us complete them.

Just down the hall from the summer associates’ offices, Bilzin Sumberg houses a sizable library. Books line the walls from floor to ceiling, a familiar sight to us students. One or more librarians at a time staff the library all day and into the night. The library staff members are experts in their field and are available to us any time we have a research question, no matter how big or small. Continue Reading I Get by with a Little Help from My Friends

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Commissioner Cava visits Bilzin Sumberg

Our first week of the inaugural Academy continued with modules presented by members of our own law firm. We learned much about the different practices within the Business Finance and Restructuring group from bankruptcy to loan agreements and more. We also witnessed a live mock commission hearing from the Land Development and Governmental Relations group! This gave all of us attending the opportunity to witness not only how a they prepare for presentation to a county or city commission, but also the real interplay of commissioner questions and general public comments that are involved. This provided us with great insight to one of the advocacy components of the specific practice area.

Along with the presentations by attorneys from Bilzin Sumberg, unique perspectives from outside speakers helped our first-year class appreciate the importance of both community involvement and interaction. On Tuesday, a visit from Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava brought close-to-home meaning to more general words like “citizen” and “service.” Commissioner Cava spoke not only of her own triumphs in the greater Miami area, but causes our new attorneys (myself included!) could dedicate time to in an effort to improve areas within the community. Issues such as water conservation, education, and housing were some of the specific areas we discussed as showing plenty of need for local attention and service. A subsequent group discussion of the concept of giving back really enforced the idea that although attorneys serve those who need help with legal concepts, our broader role of assisting others in need extends far beyond law, and well into the community.

Later in the week, Jim Cranston from Law Vision Group hosted a morning session about practice development. Besides reinforcing the importance of networks and business development, Jim introduced us to concepts linking social media networks to professional interactions. It is easy for us to think of the two as necessarily separate, but with LinkedIn, and at times sites like Twitter, the two can truly be merged to foster professional networks and connections! Attorneys at the firm who publish blog posts covering an array of legal topics for example often share their discussions on different platforms to inform members of our own firm and far beyond of the changes in law or other findings. Utilizing these platforms effectively will definitely be helpful in discovering other individuals who are involved in areas related to our practice.

Overall, this week has sparked important ideas and concepts for the beginning of our professional careers as lawyers and also as community-members. I’m looking forward to the upcoming Academy lessons on these two aspects and more!

Celebrating the swearing in of our first year associates!
Celebrating the swearing in of our first year associates!

It’s only Tuesday, but it’s been an exciting week at Bilzin Sumberg.  On Monday we were thrilled to welcome home the 2014 blogging summer associates – Leah Aaronson, Desiree FernandezJerry Goldsmith, and Jared Spector.  They’ve officially transitioned from summer associates to first year associates, had a full day of orientation, and settled into their offices.

As if that wasn’t enough, we celebrated their admission to the Florida Bar with their families.   Today, we were lucky to have Chief Judge John W. Thornton, Jr. administer the Oath of Admission to our newest associates and the festivities continued with a group lunch at La Loggia.  After all, it’s not a celebration without tiramisu!

Our first years are off to a great start!

The first year associates pose with The Honorable John W. Thornton, Jr.
The first year associates pose with The Honorable John W. Thornton, Jr.

 

We went to Virginia Key Beach in Key Biscayne to volunteer with Citizens for a Better South Florida at the Virginia Key Restoration Project, which began after Hurricane Andrew had damaged the landscape back in 1992. To help with the project’s goal of removing and replacing invasive exotic plant species throughout the 15-acre hammock, we took on planting and digging duties. I was in charge of mixing soil to create “compost,” an environmentally-friendly fertilizer that significantly reduces plant greenhouse gas emissions, and then taking it to the others for their plants. Breaking a sweat with my fellow summer associates for a good cause, and doing so while overlooking Key Biscayne’s shoreline, allowed us to bond and appreciate how lucky we are to work in such a beautiful city, and to be in a position to give back. Even though I am from Miami, its beauty never grows old for me!

After a hard day’s work, we were treated to Shorty’s Barbeque. For anyone who has not been to a Shorty’s before, there are few places in town that grill tastier ribs–take it from “Chef Tony!” During the delicious lunch we talked about how much fun we have had so far and how quickly the summer is going by. It feels like only yesterday that Marshall welcomed us to the Summer Associate Program and warned that this summer would flash by in an instant. Looking back, Marshall was absolutely right. We have now completed about 50% of the summer program and have had the opportunity to work on headline-grabbing cases, make new and lasting relationships, and eat at some of the most delicious restaurants in Miami (particularly at Edge, a firm favorite). I am excited about what the second half of the summer will bring, but am hoping to figure out a way to make the time go by just a bit more slowly since–and I know I can speak on behalf of the entire summer class–we are truly enjoying our summer journey together.

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Last night, Bilzin Sumberg hosted its annual year-end party at the Rusty Pelican on Key Biscayne.  This event is one of the most anticipated of the year because everyone in the firm gathers to celebrate in a beautiful and festive environment.  The firm rolled out the red carpet for employees and photographers captured the memories with framed souvenir pictures.

The highlights of the night were introducing two of our four incoming 2015 2L summer associates to the firm and seeing Desiree Fernandez and Leah Aaronson from our 2014 summer associate program.  I always enjoy introducing incoming summer associates to previous summer associates and watching friendships bloom.  Throughout the night, summer associate alumni from all years were spotted chatting, laughing and dancing the night away (see photos of the fun in the slideshow below).

The view

The view of Brickell and Downtown Miami from the Rusty Pelican Terrace.

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The view from the Rusty Pelican Terrace.

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From Left to Right: Eryca Schiffman (First Year Associate), Brendan Studley (2015 Summer Associate) and Naomi Alzate (First Year Associate).

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From Left to Right: Adam Fischer, Jessica Buchsbaum, Desiree Fernandez, Amy Podolsky, Leah Aaronson and Nadia Kruler.

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From Left to Right: Carly Grimm, Naomi Alzate, Eryca Schiffman, Veronica Gordon and Brandon Rose (summer associate alumni).

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From Left to Right: 2015 Summer Associates Anthony Sirven and Brendan Studley with 2014 Summer Associate Desiree Fernandez.

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Summer Associate Alumni Brandon Rose and Carly Grimm.

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Summer Associate Alumni dancing the night away at the 2014 year-end party at Rusty Pelican.

Last night, the Bilzin Sumberg summer associates, both old (alumni) and new (current), endured the traffic on US1 to drive to Two Chefs in South Miami for a night of great food, wine, and company. A favorite night of the summer for many who have attended over the years, the summer associate alumni cooking event was certainly a ton of fun.

We cooked our own dinner! After being handed an apron and a towel by our ‘master chefs,’ the 20-or-so of us split into groups. Each group was responsible for making a different dish; the menu included quesadillas, tuna tartare, risotto, quinoa, salmon, steak, and of course, Two Chefs’ famous chocolate soufflé. There was plenty of work to go around and we all played a part in some aspect of the meal.

I began my cooking contribution by helping Shalia Sakona with the soufflé – a much harder task than I had anticipated. Thankfully, Shalia had the skill needed to get the job done. I, on the other hand, found that slowly churning a giant pan of risotto with Eric Singer was much more my speed. The steak was delicious too, despite the fact that Brandon Rose almost ruined it by incorrectly laying the meat on the grill (which, admittedly, none of us knew could ruin a steak).

Eating the meal was just as fun as cooking it. Everyone had a great time sharing past summer associate stories while cleaning their plates of all the delicious food. The Two Chefs event was certainly a success!

Shalia preparing the chocolate souffle

Shalia preparing the chocolate souffle

Summer Associate Alumni Brandon, John & Kyle

Brandon, John & Kyle

David preparing salmon

David preparing salmon

Desiree making quinoa

Desiree making quinoa

Moshe preparing the broccoli

Moshe preparing the broccoli

Leah, Michael & Shalia enjoying the tuna tartare

Leah, Michael & Shalia enjoying the tuna tartare