This summer, I’ve had the honor of writing both the first blog post and the final blog post. In my first post, I talked about the welcome wine and cheese event, the training sessions, and being back at Bilzin Sumberg. It is hard to believe that when I was writing that post nine weeks ago I barely knew Forrest, Luis, Alex, and Eric (Lauren I knew from last year!), and I had no idea that they would become such great friends and supportive colleagues.

Before we get to the end of summer fun, we have to get through the last of our assignments and our end of summer reviews. While I’m always a little bit nervous before the reviews, the attorneys always seem to provide helpful and encouraging feedback. Plus – my great mentor Lindsey Parker is always there with me! I’ve also tried to make an effort this year to reach out to individual assigning attorneys for feedback before my review — a suggestion from Jay Sakalo and Jessica Buchsbaum that I think has been helpful in improving my work and to building stronger relationships with the attorneys at the firm.

Continue Reading The Final Few Days of a Great Summer

The author, Luis Reyes, about to throw a strike!
The author, Luis Reyes, about to throw a strike!

No, this blog post is not about a proposed T.V. show spin-off; this blog post is about competition; this blog post is about camaraderie; this blog post is about bowling with the Bilzin Sumberg litigation department.

We all trickled in to Splitsville, a local bowling alley, at 7 p.m., where full bar service and a large buffet awaited. There was sushi, chicken, shrimp—and did I mention sushi? After about an hour of chatting and eating, we put on our bowling shoes, warmed up our wrists, and made our way to the bowling lanes.

The summer associates were all spread across the five bowling lanes, where we competed against the partners and associates for bragging rights of nabbing the highest score. Unfortunately for those with an affinity for the gutter ball, we decided not to use the lane bumpers.

I ended up on lane three, where the competition was scorching hot. Phil, Shalia, Desiree, Danielle, Ken, and I all jockeyed—some better than others—for the lead. Although I ultimately bowled one of my best games ever with a 137 (which doesn’t say a lot for me), I’ll admit, beginner’s luck played a huge part.

After saying that I had not bowled in years and that I would probably be “Mr. Gutter-ball,” I got two strikes at the outset! I found a growing confidence in my comfortable lead—a bad idea. The luck wore off soon enough. Before I knew it, Ken hit three strikes in a row (a “turkey”) and left me in the dust. And once Ken got going, he didn’t stop: with a score in the 170’s after game two, he earned the coveted highest score of the night.

We were all exhausted after a few hours of bowling and went off to the lounge area to relax. There, both the “winners” and “losers” of the night were treated to delicious chocolate brownies, which changed everyone’s concept of winning and losing. Let’s be honest—after chocolate brownies, we were all winners. And although I can say that, with a 137, I (barely) out-bowled my fellow summer associates, I can’t say I’ll be going from a career in law to one in bowling any time soon.

 

tour“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” is a proverb Bilzin Sumberg’s Land Development & Government Relations Group lives by.

On Tuesday night, the attorneys took the summer associates on a culinary tour through Wynwood. We had all heard great things about this event and it definitely lived up to the hype.

A tour guide met us at Wynwood Walls, a restaurant, bar, and art gallery, where the walls serve as canvas for world-renowned artists. But these artists must love just the process of painting because all but a few of the walls are painted-over each year at the start of Art Basel!

tour guideBefore starting the tour, the guide told us a fascinating story of how the late Tony Goldman, a famous developer, transformed Wynwood from a neighborhood with a high crime rate and low property value into the art mecca that it is today. The history lesson was interesting, but the guide knew to keep it short and sweet. We were all waiting in anticipation for one thing: food.

Boy, it was worth the wait. The first stop of the culinary tour was Mister Block Cafe, a shopping center with different stores and restaurants. We sat at a long, cafeteria-style table and sampled delicious Argentinian empanadas. As we ate, Stanley Price and Eileen Ball Mehta captivated us with stories of Miami’s shakers and movers, and before anyone knew it, it was time to move along to the next stop. Thirty minutes had whizzed by in what seemed like only thirty seconds.

The food we tried next at GK Bistronomie made it next to impossible to pick a favorite dish at the end of the night: First up was fresh ceviche served in a spiced citrus juice, and after that, “lomo saltado,” a traditional Peruvian dish consisting of stir-fried sirloin strips served on a bed of rice and potatoes; I’m getting hungry just writing about it! We also had refreshing cocktails as the summer associates listened to the now-infamous story of how one of the attorneys once innocently mistook mojitos for a type of lemonade. Needless to say, the difference between the two is no longer lost upon said person.

The last stop, Concrete Beach Breweryknown for its creative brewslived up to its reputation. Once we arrived, the hostess brought us refreshing beer infused with passion fruit, and invited everyone to join an ongoing beer-pong competition. While we gladly accepted the ice-cold beer to fend off the heat, we all politely declined to join the beer pong competition. Undergraduate students may not have to wake up before noon, but lawyers do!

Land Use
Eileen Ball Mehta, Dalayna T. Craigman, Stanley B. Price, Cristina Lumpkin, Carly Grimm, Leah Aaronson, Albert E. Dotson, Jr., Daniel S. Goldberg, Brian S. Adler, Eric Singer, Javier F. Aviñó, Hannah Lidicker, Luis Reyes, Eric Reissi, Lauren Sabella, Alexandra Barshel and Forrest Murphy.

 

Building Relationships (2)We are reaching the midpoint of our summer program here at Bilzin Sumberg and each day continues to present new learning and networking opportunities! Building relationships is essential to fostering a strong workplace environment, and everyone here does a phenomenal job of ensuring that we summer associates are a part of the team!

One way we build relationships is by grabbing lunch with different attorneys—from junior associates to senior partners—on a daily basis. Since there is no shortage of places to eat in Miami, the biggest challenge is choosing where to go! In between conducting superior legal research, crunching out legal memorandums, drafting complaints, editing contract clauses, and attending client meetings with attorneys, we often find ourselves venturing around Brickell in search of food.

One such lunch included the renowned summer associate trip to Rosa Mexicano with Mitch Widom, where we indulged in guacamole, tacos and churros! Needless to say, the food coma may or may not have kicked in.

Gluttony aside, we certainly do not take for granted the opportunities we have to interact with Bilzin Sumberg attorneys and staff on a daily basis. Lunch is merely one way we accomplish this. Overall, everyone here does a wonderful job of going out of their way to introduce themselves or check up on us.

On that note, I will use this opportunity to recognize Anthony Sirven and my mentor, Chris Pierson—two remarkable individuals here at the firm. On many occasions, Anthony—a former summer associate himself— has taken the initiative to assist me and my fellow summer associates with our legal research and writing assignments. As my mentor, Chris has taken the initiative to invite me to internal firm meetings—including one related to the eMerge Americas conference here in Miami—and he also makes time for lunch at least once a week!

Fostering a strong and collegial workplace culture is important for ensuring future success. Based on what I have seen here thus far, I am very optimistic moving forward.

IMG_0181Disclaimer: The following story is a dramatization of true events. No summer associates were hurt in the making of this story.

It was May 28th, 2017, and the air was thick with excitement. The summer associates were preparing to participate in one of Bilzin Sumberg‘s most anticipated events. We were about to test our skills; we were about to test our luck; we were about to play Texas Hold ‘Em.

Members of three different departments met the summer associates in a conference room stacked with food, drinks, and three poker tables. As we all sat down, the dealers asked whether we had played Texas Hold Em’ before. Some said yes, others lied (just kidding­—I think). After the dealers gave a quick refresher course, the drama began. Everyone started out by playing conservatively and stuck to that game plan. Well, almost everyone.

I earned the lauded distinction of being the first to lose. As I got what would ultimately be my losing hand, the dealer asked if I knew a song by Kenny Rogers that says “You’ve got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em.” I told her I didn’t. This was foreshadowing at its finest.

I had a pocket pair of jacks—a pretty good hand—and thought I would surely take someone’s chips that round. Yet with each card the dealer revealed, the remote but possible chance materialized that someone could have a straight (five cards in sequential numerical order). It all came down to the last card dealt, “the river.” I thought my chances of losing were pretty slim. I decided to test my luck and went all in; it didn’t end well.

The summer associates made a strong initial showing, but one at a time, we began to fall. By the time the final table was set, only two of us remained. All of our hopes and dreams were riding on Alex and Forrest. Everyone gathered around the table and watched intently. Once again, fortunes would be won and lost on the river card.

Eventually the herd was thinned to two final players: Forrest Murphy and Josh Kaplan. Things got intense; I think someone even shouted “sweep the leg!” But when the dust settled, Josh emerged the winner and earned the spoils of victory: an Apple iPad. Yet like so many others at Bilzin Sumberg, Josh is all about giving back and donated his prize to Forrest. Then again, maybe the gift qualified as a tax-deductible charitable donation.

Unlike last year, no summer associate won the tournament, but we sure had a ton of fun! And perhaps more importantly, we learned why litigants so often settle rather than take their chances on a jury trial: You never know what the river holds.

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!

2017_Summer_Assoicates_GroupYesterday, we welcomed the 2017 Summer Associates (and bloggers!) to Bilzin Sumberg.  I’m excited to welcome back Hannah and Lauren and introduce to you Alex, Forrest, Eric and Luis.  Throughout the course of the summer, you’ll have the opportunity to hear from them about their experience at Bilzin Sumberg – from work assignments, tag alongs, training and mentors to social events.

We have a lot planned and we are all looking forward to next couple of months together!

As we move into the final few days of the summer, everyone is wrapping up assignments, saying their good-byes and enjoying the last of the summer events. I’m getting sad about leaving and appreciating the view from my office more every day.

View from the Brickell Ave side of the office
View from the Brickell Ave side of the office

 

Last night, the Summer Associates, Jay, and Jessica headed to Trulucks in Brickell for an amazing feast of assorted appetizers, lobster bisque, steaks, salmon, and a decadent dessert platter. The conversation was lively, as we discussed the trips we have planned for the rest of the summer, Frankie’s apartment-hunt crisis, and Elise’s exciting run-in with the star of the Summer Shorts event.

We also reminisced about all the fun we had this summer – and everyone’s embarrassing stories. Jenny, for example, tried repeatedly to go down an up escalator during a tag along with Al Dotson. Upon realizing her mistake, she committed and tried to increase her pace, ultimately failing. Elise accidentally ordered an entire fish, eyeballs and all, at Sea Spice with Scott Baena. She claims to have ordered the filet – a likely story. Continue Reading The Last Supper

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