While trying a real case in court won’t happen for at least a few years, Benjamin, Devin, and I had the opportunity to visit the Miami-Dade County Courthouse on our first tag-along of the summer! Of counsel at the firm, Michael E. Strauch, was gracious enough to invite us on his trip to the courthouse. With his focus being the Commercial Litigation practice at Bilzin Sumberg, Michael was on his way to meet with a judge on a case he is working on. After a quick trip on the Metro Mover and a five minute walk, we were before the courthouse. The courthouse previously served as the county jail, a fun fact that Michael informed us of as we headed up the stairs leading to the entrance.

Once inside the 100-year old courthouse, we made our way in a historic elevator to the judge’s chambers. Once there, we were told that the particular judge we came to see was momentarily out and would be back within a 20-minute window. As such, we took the opportunity to witness an ongoing jury trial happening in the next room. With Michael leading the way, we quietly slipped inside the courtroom and took our seats in the back. The trial turned out to be a civil one in which the wife of the decedent was suing a tobacco company for wrongful death.  The wife’s husband died from lung cancer. As one would expect, a team of lawyers for the tobacco company sat to our left, each of them surrounded with laptops and boxes full of paper. We took our seats on the same side as the wife’s lawyer and furthest to the right sat a jury of six of her peers.  Interestingly, we came in during the middle of a direct examination of the wife in which she told her story of her husband’s long term battle of smoking addiction.  After about 15 minutes, we all returned to the judge’s chambers so that Michael could speak with the judge.

After the discussion was over, the four of us headed back to the office and reflected on our visit. For us three summer associates, it was the first time we had visited that particular courthouse, and I believe I speak for all of us when I say that we were lucky to have had that first experience at Bilzin Sumberg!

 

 

No first day jitters here! (L to R, Lucas, Brianna, Devin, Eric & Ben)

We are so excited to welcome our 2018 Summer Associates. I wanted to take a moment to officially introduce them on the blog.  Right after orientation, they will be sharing the next nine weeks with you here!  We can’t wait to see what the summer. . .although, we are hoping for a little less rain here in Miami.

As the summer program is coming to a close, I can’t help but smile as I think back to all the wonderful experiences I’ve had in just nine weeks at Bilzin Sumberg. Though all my other blog posts have been (hopefully) funny and lighthearted, with the readers’ permission, I’d like to indulge in some philosophical introspection and for posterity give a heartfelt account of my experience.

I think I can fairly speak for my fellow summer associates in saying that we are all truly blessed to have been summer associates here: The relationships we’ve built, the work we’ve done, the skills we’ve learned—all second to none.

My fellow summer associates and I have all become incredibly close during our short time so far at the firm; this is undoubtedly due in part to the emphasis here on fostering a positive firm culture. After all, the firm’s slogan is “be judged by the company you keep.” And speaking of company, not a single summer associate ever had lunch alone. From day one, we were encouraged to make lunch plans with attorneys whose practices might be of interest. The attorneys, despite their busy schedules, always found a way to make time for us. Between all of the lunches and all of the practice-group events, the summer associates got to meet almost everyone.

But of course, there is much more to life as a summer associate than being taken out to lunch every day; there are assignments! The breadth of work that I got to do over the summer was incredible, making it much easier to rank my preferred practice groups at the end of the program. For instance, I worked on matters involving public-private partnership proposals, antitrust business development, Florida service of process requirements, luxury hotel management contracts, and I even contributed to two appellate briefs. I also attended client meetings, a mediation session, and an oral argument at the Third District Court of Appeal.

The work I’ve done this summer has been incredibly fulfilling, but I believe the people at Bilzin Sumberg are what set this firm apart from others: employees here are not just co-workers or friends—they’re family. Law is a rewarding but tough career. If we’re going to be “in the trenches,” why not be with people we can call family?

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.

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!

 

suit_papersBeing a strong writer is a requirement for practicing law, but ask a lay person and they may tell you “legal writing” evokes thoughts of confusing contracts and memos filled with obscure Latin phrases. Fortunately for us, Susan McCloskey of Susan McCloskey Writing Consultants came to Bilzin Sumberg this week to help us keep our writing clear, effective, and sans-“legalese.”

The process actually began weeks ago, when Jessica Buchsbaum asked each of the summer associates to submit writing samples. We also completed a “Writer’s Inventory”, answering questions about our writing methods, strengths, and weaknesses.  Susan used these materials to tailor her writing seminar to our individual needs.

Susan began by sharing proven writing techniques that improve organization, clarity, and concision. For example, Susan encouraged us to keep the purpose and the reader in mind when organizing and editing our writing.  This is crucial for us, because we’ll be doing work for attorneys with wildly different preferences and expectations over the summer. Continue Reading Legal Writing for Dummies (and Summer Associates)

Summer Associate Bake Off 3By mid-week, our summer associate training mostly complete and it was time to get to work and choose our first assignments. Following precedent set by previous summer classes, we got toget    her to discuss who was most interested in the available assignments from the different practice groups. In just the first week, we have had the chance to work across practice groups including Litigation, Land Use, Business Finance and Restructuring, Corporate, and Tax!

Luis and Alex have been researching Miami-Dade’s competitive bidding procedure for the Land Use group. Eric has been drafting a tolling agreement and conducting case law research on the eligibility of a plaintiff to file a derivative suit. Hannah has been helping out on a closing by working on the checklist and updating agreements. Forrest is learning about bankruptcy law and the formation of creditor’s committees. Meanwhile, I‘ve had the chance to work with Jay Ward in Litigation on the case that I completed my first research assignment for last summer. It has been very interesting to see how the matter has progressed!

The summer associates have already had some fantastic tag-along opportunities – Luis was able to go to the 3rd District Court of Appeals to see José Ferrer advocate for his client’s position. We look forward to many more tag-alongs to observe different court proceedings and client interactions throughout the summer.

Even though training is ending, the summer program has many fun social events and traditions to look forward to. For example, the intense rivalry between Jessica Buchsbaum and Paul VanderMeer in the annual bake-off! Each year, the incoming class of summer associates completes an in-depth dessert survey, and Paul and Jessica make desserts customized to our preferences. A blind taste-test and vote determines the reigning champion. This year, Jessica’s chocolate chip s’more cookie cake triumphed over Paul’s butter-finger cake! (The rules of the competition prevent me from sharing the real recipes the competitors used, but the links above are a close approximation.)

Now that we’ve completed our first week, we are looking forward to a summer of engaging work assignments and exciting social events as we get to know the attorneys at Bilzin Sumberg and the city of Miami!

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

 women event 3We are in the final weeks of our summer at Bilzin Sumberg, and the fun activities are non-stop. Last week, we had our mock real estate transaction closing and a lovely happy hour with Marshall Pasternack. On Wednesday, Jenny, Claudia, Hannah, Lauren, and I had an event with the Firm’s women attorney’s at Bottle & Bottega. We were greeted at the adorable gallery with delicious food from Daily Bread (a favorite of mine and Jenny’s) and some wine to get our creative juices flowing.

Continue Reading Painting the Night Away