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!

 

 

(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!

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!

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.

 

Closing celebration at Sugar!

Over the summer, we have had the chance to experience every stage of a typical real estate transaction through the Mock Real Estate Transaction program. From the initial contract negotiation to contract amendment, Adam Lustig and Phil Sosnow led the summer associates through each step to closing. This week, after preparing a special warranty deed, a general assignment, a no lien affidavit, and a closing statement, we were finally ready! The teams showed up prepared (or so we thought). Continue Reading (Almost) Getting to Closing

About two weeks before beginning our summer program, each Summer Associate was assigned an attorney mentor. I was very fortunate to be paired up with Wendy Polit, a fourth year associate in Bilzin Sumberg’s Litigation department. Not only is Wendy an incredibly talented attorney, but because she worked at Bilzin Sumberg prior to enrolling in law school, she is also especially familiar with the ins and outs of the firm and its attorneys.

Although I was a bit nervous when first meeting Wendy, her easy-going attitude quickly set me at ease. Over drinks at Rosa Mexicano, a local Brickell restaurant, we discussed my expectations and goals for the summer, as well as what the firm expects of me.

She was very direct about the summer being hard work: I would be working on complex issues for high-profile clients across all departments within the firm. But the summer, of course, wouldn’t be all work, and she assured me that my summer would be a fun and growing experience.

Bilzin Sumberg organizes numerous social events so that Summer Associates can meet many of the attorneys and better integrate themselves into the firm’s culture. In just the first week, we have had a couple of lunches and happy hours where we had the chance to mingle with associates and partners to learn about them and their practice areas. Wendy also stressed the importance of working on projects from all departments, not only to get a better feel as to what I am interested in most, but also to meet and build rapport with the attorneys.

Although I have only been working at Bilzin Sumberg for a week, the firm already feels like home. All the attorneys I have met so far, including Wendy, have been incredibly kind and accommodating. I am very excited for what’s to come in the next couple of weeks!

This has been a great week filled with many firsts: first day, first assignment, and first mentor lunch. But, there has been another first. This week marks the first time I have ever been allowed to eat and drink in a library! That’s right, the Bilzin Sumberg library hosted both a happy hour and a heated, competitive bake-off during their Summer Associate training sessions.

The librarians did an excellent job teaching us how to use the library’s resources. We learned about the library’s layout, how to access various online databases, and what are the best practices for utilizing print and online research tools.

Library, Bake-Off Venue, Happy Hour Venue? You Be The Judge!

In addition, we learned that chicken fingers are the most preferred library happy hour snack, that the Legal Information Specialist Kelley Darling can tell library jokes, and that Director of Library & Knowledge Management Paul VanderMeer’s fruit tarts will beat out Director of Legal Recruiting & Professional Development Jessica Buchsbaum’s rocky road pie any afternoon (don’t feel bad, Jessica won last year’s bake-off with her world-famous tiramisu).

By providing drink and snacks at the training sessions, the librarians made research all the more fun and certainly gave us an incentive to keep going back!