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!

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.

On Wednesday, we went to South Beach Room Escape with Bilzin Sumberg’s  Real Estate department.  For the uninitiated, the purpose of an escape room is to work together with others to solve puzzles, manipulate objects, and use reasoning to – you guessed it – escape a room within one hour.

There were three different rooms: Panic, Black Ops, and Diamond Heist.  Each room had a different theme.  In the Panic room, you are trapped in an operating room.  The Panic team was Alex, Luis, Jessica Buchsbaum, Marjie Nealon, Adam Lustig, Steve Simon, Alexis Kanarek, and Craig Thompson.  Lauren and Hannah were in the Black Ops room, in which they had to retrieve a secret chemical weapon.  Audrey Ellis, Jim Shindell, Kent Koch, Ali Lehson, Manny Gonzalez, and Brendan Studley filled out the Black Ops team.  I was in the Diamond Heist room with Eric, Suzanne Amaducci-Adams, Marty Schwartz, Alan Kazan, Phil Sosnow, Katy Yankowski, and Jared Spector.  Our objective, unsurprisingly, was to steal a diamond.

After a brief tutorial, we were herded into our rooms.  The moment the door closed, the countdown clock began ticking.  We scanned our surroundings to find a room filled with everything from footlockers and mailboxes to stationary bikes and barricades.  Behind barred doors and inside a locked container was our prize: a glittering diamond (made of the finest plastic).
Continue Reading South Beach Escape

2017 Summer Associates Mock Transaction Meeting 1I think it was Posh Spice who once said, “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.”  Sure enough, we ran into the proverbial wrench in the plan during a mock real estate transaction meeting last week.  Due to a (thankfully fictional) emergency, an amendment to our carefully negotiated contract was suddenly necessary.  Luckily for us, there is protocol for these types of situations.  We sat down once again at the negotiating table; when the dust settled, the buyer’s team had more time, and the seller’s team had more money.

As you can tell, our deal is moving right along!  To refresh the reader’s memory, Lauren and I serve as counsel for the buyer, David Beckham (aka Eric Reissi).  Hannah and Luis serve as counsel for the seller, Scary Spice (aka Alex Barshel).  At stake for the buyer is the last piece of property needed for the construction of a MLS stadium; at stake for the seller is a pile of cold, hard cash.  Since our first negotiation for the letter of intent (which Eric so eloquently explained) we have actually had several meetings and cut numerous deals.
Continue Reading The Wrench in the Plan

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

The summer is definitely in full swing, and there are constant opportunities to learn more about Bilzin Sumberg. Tag alongs are opportunities to accompany attorneys to meetings, depositions, or court, or to listen in on phone calls. Last week, I was lucky enough to go on a tag along with Jay Sakalo and Jeff Snyder and sit in on a negotiation. In order to go, I did have to miss the Mock Real Estate Transaction’s contract negotiation, but it was definitely worth it to see a real negotiation in action!

On the way there, Jay and Jeff explained the topic and gave me all of the background information on the parties. They even filled me in on their negotiation strategy. This was helpful, because I understood much more throughout the day. I had the chance to ask a ton of questions, and overall the whole process was really interesting. I am hoping to use what I learned at our next Mock Real Estate session!

Most of the other Summer Associates have had tag alongs as well. Luis watched José Ferrer from the Litigation department argue before the 3rd DCA. José was appealing an injunction against our client made in the trial court.

Lauren attended an impromptu lunch with a client, when she and Melissa Pallet-Vasquez ran into him at Obba Sushi. Melissa had just completed a hearing on his case that morning, so he joined the lunch. Alex sat in on a phone call with Marshall Pasternack regarding a potential acquisition of property and Eric sat in on a phone call with Marty Shwartz regarding a commercial real estate sale.

Forrest hasn’t had a tag along quite yet, but he does have plans to accompany Jay Ward to the federal courthouse in a couple of weeks, so maybe he will fill us in later!

 

The art of negotiation is an invaluable skill that many lawyers strive to perfect. Last week, we had an early opportunity to put our negotiation skills to the test during the initial phase of the Mock Real Estate Transaction. Led by Adam Lustig and Phillip Sosnow of the Bilzin Sumberg Real Estate Group, the Mock Real Estate Transaction is a summer-long training program designed to give summer associates early exposure to the main phases of a real estate deal.

The ultimate goal is to close a deal for the sale of land to be used for commercial purposes. Prior to the initial negotiation for the Letter of Intent, we were separated into two teams—Miami Beckham United LLC (buyers) and Not-So-Scary, LLC (sellers). Alex Roitman and Ali Lehson served as coaches to guide us and to ensure the negotiation session moved along smoothly…and believe me, their presence was absolutely necessary to quell a brewing dumpster fire when both teams conflated the inspection period with the closing period during the negotiation!

During the negotiation session, the atmosphere was extraordinarily intense. Representatives from both sides glared at each other from across the table with hawkish eyes, and each team conferred in plain sight in private (via ad hoc binder walls) to devise (and revise) bold strategies to keep the other team on its heels.

Okay, the atmosphere was not contentious, but it was still challenging to find compromise. Each side used its leverage to negotiate favorable terms related to the purchase price, inspection period, and closing period. After approximately thirty minutes of non-stop action, both sides finally agreed to terms within the Letter of Intent! Although the deal is not yet finalized, this initial success called for a celebration.

To celebrate, we attended a summer associate alumni event at Two Chefs. During this event, we had the opportunity to build camaraderie with attorneys who began their careers as summer associates at Bilzin Sumberg. We also had a chance to hang out with two of Bilzin Sumberg’s finest—Jay Sakalo and Jessica Buchsbaum!

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Supervised by the head chef, we demonstrated our superior cooking skills by preparing different dishes throughout various stations. Some of these dishes included—but were not limited to— the finest quinoa in town (prepared by Hannah Lidicker and Desiree Fernandez), perfect-to-the-crisp flatbread (prepared by Alexandra Barshel, Lauren Sabella, Jared Spector, and Leah Aaronson), perfectly-tenderized grilled steak (prepared by Forrest Murphey and yours truly), and the most upscale chocolate soufflé in South Florida (prepared by Luis Reyes, Shalia Sakona, and Jay Sakalo.

Now it’s time to put these newly acquired negotiation (and cooking) skills to use…

Summer Associate WineCheese7 As one of the two Summer Associates returning to Bilzin Sumberg for a second summer, I have the honor of writing the first blog post! While I was participating in the recruitment process, I used the blog to get an idea of what the summer program here is like. As a two-time summer associate, I am happy to help spread the word about the great summer program here at Bilzin Sumberg. Continue Reading It’s Great to be Back!

Last week markIMG_1920ed the culmination of the Mock Real Estate Transaction–a training program designed to give the summer associates exposure to the full life cycle and many phases of a real estate deal.  The summer associates were divided into two teams, buyers (Team Captain America) and sellers (Team Iron Man).

 

Weekly sessions led by Adam Lustig and Phil Sosnow covered each phase of a real estate transaction, from Letter of Intent to Closing.  Coaches Manny Gonzalez and Kent Koch were assigned to each team to help us understand and draft documents, as well as advise us in conducting negotiations.  After the informative introduction, the teams would conduct a negotiation, attempting to reach a compromise by the end of the session.  Buyers and sellers were given unique fact patterns for each phase, highlighting needs and wants to drive negotiation priorities.

The path to closing was not always smooth.  In fact, during the Contract Amendment phase, our deal almost broke down entirely.  Buyers and sellers fully embraced their roles and negotiations for an extension of the property inspection period got very heated.  Personally, I learned a valuable and mildly embarrassing lesson about the importance of stepping out of the room to confer privately.  Thinking aloud in role of the seller, I blurted out “what do we think of $X for Y weeks extension?” Buyers enthusiastically embraced my suggestion, my team shot me looks of stunned disbelief, and Adam declared “that sounds like offer and acceptance!”  I frantically back-pedaled and thankfully we were permitted to disregard my comment and move on. Continue Reading The Summer War – Let’s Make a Deal

The very first day of orientation, the summer associates were introduced to the concept of tag alongs. Bilzin Sumberg provides opportunities for us to shadow experienced attorneys as they interact with clients, learning by observing. We were asked to rank practice groups in order of personal interest, allowing Jessica Buchsbaum to assign the experiences in order of priority as they arise.

I don’t think any of us were expecting the number and variety of tag alongs we’ve experienced in just the first two and a half weeks of the summer. All seven summer associates have had opportunities to observe associates and partners “in action,” interacting with their clients on pressing matters. So far, our group has tagged-along with the Corporate & Tax, Litigation, Land Development & Government Relations, Business Finance & Restructuring, and Real Estate practice groups. Continue Reading Summer Associates Tagging-Along

Tuesday was our first day back from the long weekend as well as the first day of a summer-long war: the Real Estate Mock Transaction. When I first heard about the mock transaction, I was excited because I am interested in Real Estate and the Real Estate Practice Group at Bilzin Sumberg is so prominent, but also a bit apprehensive because I hhandshake with gears backgroundad no idea what to expect.

Luckily, our session today started with a brief overview of the purpose of the mock transaction, and then a brief overview of a typical real estate transaction. Bilzin Sumberg started the mock transaction about 8 years ago for two reasons: first, because most law schools do not offer transactional skills programs and second, because most summer associates are not here long enough to see a deal all the way through. Today, we negotiated for a 105 day inspection period followed by a 60 day closing period. In 165 days I will be outlining for my first semester finals instead of working on a real estate transaction, so I’m excited for the chance to see what a real deal entails.

We each received a binder to use throughout the transaction – one for the buyers’ side and one for the sellers’. On the cover, our faces were photoshopped onto the movie poster for Captain America Civil War underneath the title “The Summer War.” My face is front and center, attached to Captain America’s body. Each Summer Associate’s face was on a different superhero. Inside was a fact pattern explaining how some of the superheroes need to liquidate their assets to prepare for battle, so they were planning to sell a vacant lot here in Brickell, across from Pieducks Pizza.

On the next page, we had information specific to the buyers’ team, including which issues (price, length of inspection period, etc.) were our priorities. The sellers’ team left the room, and we discussed our strategy with our coach, Manny Gonzalez. Having our coach there was extremely helpful because we had no idea where to start. Should our first offer be below the appraisal value of the property? Is a typical deposit rate 2% or 25%? Fortunately Manny was able to put us on the right track. After a few minutes, the sellers’ team came back in and our timed negotiation ensued. Sitting on opposite sides of the table, the two teams discussed price, the closing period, the inspection period, and deposits to try to come to an agreement.

The negotiations are ongoing, so I can’t disclose too much. Check back for more updates after we sign the contract!