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!


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!

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

One of the most unique and rewarding aspects of spending a summer at Bilzin Sumberg is the opportunity to interact with clients and watch more experienced attorneys in a real world setting. A “tag along”, as it is commonly referred to, gives summer associates the opportunity to watch other lawyers practice in their respective fields, whether it be in court, during a negotiation, or at the Miami-Dade County Board of County Commissioners.

Most of the time, Jessica Buchsbaum arranges the tag alongs based upon our practice group interests, but, sometimes, a tag along derives from an assignment we have been working on. For example, I did an assignment for Stanley Price involving real estate on Miami Beach that was recently designated as a historic landmark. After conducting research on whether the Miami-Dade County Historic Preservation Board had the authority to make this designation, I traveled with Stan to the Preservation Board to watch him deliver his argument. It was extremely rewarding to see my research used in a real-world setting in order to help a client!

There have been many other exciting tag alongs that have already occurred throughout the summer as well, although it is impossible to mention them all. A few weeks ago, we all had the opportunity to travel to the Board of County Commissioners with Al Dotson and Wendy Francois to watch them secure funding for renovations at Dolphin Stadium. We were even lucky enough to have a guest appearance from Dan Marino and Jason Taylor.

Also, Moshe Zaghi recently sat in on a client meeting with Suzanne Amaducci-Adams where she went over a management agreement for a new hotel in Miami. At the end of the week, Leah Aaronson and Desiree Fernandez will be going to watch David Gersten, the retired Chief Judge for the Third District Court of Appeals for the State of Florida, give an oral argument at his old stomping grounds.

There is no better way to understand the day-to-day practice of law and to decide what practice groups we are most interested in than by attending tag alongs. We are all very excited to attend a few more before the end of the summer!

The Summer Associates on the last day of the program after their ice cream social farewell.

This summer has proven to be an incredible experience. Not only did I get a chance to meet and befriend an intelligent and interesting group of people, I was able to learn from them and sharpen my own skill sets.

From meeting clients, to attending court hearings, to simply sharing a meal with an attorney, I always felt that the firm and its attorneys had my best interest at heart.

Bilzin Sumberg truly invests a lot of time and energy on the summer associate program. For example, attorney mentors are carefully vetted so as to make our experience unique and rewarding. The ViDesktop system (the system where attorneys input assignments so that summer associates can pick from a pool) also allows the summers to tailor their summer experience to fit their overall career goals. The social events for the summer are organized in a way that allows the summers to meet as many attorneys as possible. Finally, the summer program stresses the importance of community service and involvement.

The efforts made by Marshall Pasternack, Jessica Buchsbaum, and my mentor, Wendy Polit, to make this summer unforgettable are truly appreciated!

2012 summer associates first day

Flashback to the summer associates on their first day!


The Summer Associates on the last day of the program after their ice cream social farewell.

Group pic

Volunteering at Habitat for Humanity

group pic
the victors
souffle team
Group at Smith Wollensky
Bilzin Sumberg’s reception area

Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to observe Michael Krietzer, co-chair of Bilzin Sumberg’s litigation department, and John Sumberg, managing partner at Bilzin Sumberg, in a client meeting. 

At Pieducks (incredible pizza joint), I shared with Michael that, as a summer associate, not only am I interested in developing my writing and research skills, but I’m also interested in learning more about the side of the business that young, soon-to-be attorneys like myself don’t often get to see.   He then graciously extended an invitation to sit down with him and his client that same afternoon.

Although I have some experience with client management, sitting in with Michael and John was an incredibly enlightening experience.  As soon as I got back to the office, I changed into my suit (for all the guys out there, here’s a tip: always keep a suit in the office because you never know when an opportunity like this will come up).  

The client meeting lasted about an hour.  Michael and John carefully examined the facts surrounding the case, and slowly began to construct a strategy.  They clearly explained to the client where he stood legally, and the strengths and weaknesses of his case.  At the end of the meeting, the client seemed satisfied, and Michael is now working on the case. 

 Exposure like this can be invaluable to attorneys just starting their legal careers, and I’m glad I’m at a firm that provides these kinds of opportunities.

Last Tuesday, the summer associates had mid-summer reviews to discuss our experiences and work products thus far.  I am happy to report that we all lived to tell the tale, despite Michael’s joking throughout the day that he had been ordered to pack up and go (after finishing his latest assignment, of course).
The review process was remarkably painless.  With less than half of our time here remaining, the main focus of the meeting was to ensure that, going forward, we have the tools and experiences that we need from the firm to make decisions about which departments we hope to be placed in and which partners we would prefer to work with.
Our supervisors immediately set about meeting the requests we voiced during our reviews.  During my meeting, I requested to sit in on a deposition and to work on a litigation-focused Insolvency project.  The next morning, I was presented with two deposition tag-along opportunities for next week.  By Thursday, I was assigned my litigation-focused Insolvency project, which I completed today.

Bilzin Sumberg‘s attention to what we summers want for ourselves is one of the greatest strengths of the program.  We have a great deal of flexibility to forge our own paths here and experience the type of work that most interests us.

This past Monday, I had the opportunity to accompany a senior associate in the litigation department, on a tag-along to the 17th Judicial Circuit Court of Florida for a hearing on a motion to compel arbitration. Prior to going to the hearing, I helped him research key issues regarding the motion, as well as finding and taking advantage of weaknesses in opposing counsel’s response to our motion. Overall, working with him was a great experience. Not only did he give me great latitude in developing my own arguments, he also incorporated my feedback and research in our response.

The day of the hearing we had lunch with Judge David Haimes, a judge in the criminal division. It was great getting to know him and learning his perspective on the legal market, legal education, and the intricacies of state and federal judgeships.  His hearing began soon after lunch was over. Observing him in action turned out to be a great learning opportunity, and his calm demeanor in front of the judge is a style I plan to emulate. Overall, this was an amazing experience.
Confetti flies at the Miami Heat victory parade

So far this week, contention has been the name of the game.  Monday, Miami celebrated the Heat’s victory with a parade and parties throughout the city.  Meanwhile, the summer associates were experiencing a different sort of heat as we commenced negotiations for a Letter of Intent as part of our Mock Real Estate Transaction.  I have heard it said that after a fair negotiation, everyone walks away feeling like his or her opponent got the better end of the deal.  I think after Monday’s negotiations, ‘Pitbowl’, ‘Kim Card Ashian’ and their “attorneys” would tend to agree with that sentiment. 

Our summer associate class is full of fiery, determined individuals, which made negotiations trying at times.  That said, the brief tensions convinced me that these are individuals I would rather have on my side of the table or courtroom in the future than on the other side.  Furthermore, the two teams made up over drinks and sushi at Sushi Siam.  

The next day, there would be no reconciliatory sushi following a colorful multi-party mediation I sat in on.  The case has been dragging on for nearly fourteen years, and tensions run deep.

After roughly ten hours of negotiations, the parties reached a partial settlement, but it seems that lingering issues will have to wait for the judgment of the appellate court for closure.  This tag-along was my first real exposure to the mediation process, and I am looking forward to implementing what I learned in my Mediation course at BC Law this fall.