The first week has really flown by and it is hard to believe it is already the end of our first week of the Academy. The morning started out with a firm-wide breakfast for Teach for America – an organization near and dear to both the firm and our clients.  

After the breakfast, Stacia Wells walked us through a session on understanding financial statements. As a firm catering to commercial clients, spotting potential legal issues in financial statements is a critical skill. I know we all appreciated Stacia’s engaging and straightforward approach to what can be an intimidatingly complex area for recent law school graduates.  

Oksana Esberard then led us through a mindfulness session. We learned that we can add value and increase productivity by simply giving everyone a moment to gather their thoughts before diving into business in meetings.  

We then headed over to the Design District for lunch at MC Kitchen, where we were joined by clients Steven Gretenstein (of Dacra, a real estate development company) and Lyle Chariff, Mauricio Zapata, and Luis Guevara (of Chariff Realty Group). After a delightful lunch, they took us on a tour of emerging neighborhoods – starting with the Design District. The Design District is home to cafés, restaurants, and art galleries, as well as to flagship stores for luxury brands such as Louis Vuitton and Louboutin. Our group was privileged to visit Dacra in the Design District and see their fascinating private art collection adorning the walls of the Dacra offices.  

After the Design District, we toured Wynwood (famous for the Wynwood Walls, as well as many excellent restaurants and breweries) and the emerging neighborhood of Allapattah. It was an eye-opening and inspiring experience to hear the stories of how these three neighborhoods have evolved and grown over the years. We felt truly privileged that Bilzin Sumberg’s deep and meaningful client relationships allowed us to benefit from these insights.

 

 

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.

 

The Academy Happy Hour Day 1           Monday was a very special day for Jessica, Brendan, Anthony and me, as it marked the very first day of our legal careers! After spending the first half of our summer vigorously studying for the Florida Bar Examination, we each enjoyed well-deserved breaks afterwards. With two months of world traveling, beach-going, and catching up on much needed sleep behind us, we all felt refreshed and ready to embark on this new chapter: returning to Bilzin Sumberg as first-year associates! Knowing that we would be the very first class to have the privilege of going through The Academy for Professional Development made our return to Bilzin Sumberg all the more special.

Our first day was incredibly memorable. Despite it having been over a year since our summer associate program ended, walking back into Bilzin Sumberg felt as warm and welcoming as ever. We began the day with a welcome presentation from Managing Partner, John Sumberg, regarding the firm’s history, vision and commitment to community involvement throughout Miami. We then delved straight into our first interactive program of The Academy, led by University of Miami professor and mindfulness expert, Scott Rogers. This program introduced us to the practice of mindfulness, described as being present in the moment, rather than allowing outside thoughts to shift our focus and pull us away from the task at hand. We practiced meditation techniques to help quell outside thoughts that would otherwise interfere with our complete engagement in the present. Understanding that we are in control of our own thoughts was empowering. If we are practicing mindfulness, it is our choice whether we are focused or distracted. I can’t wait to incorporate these meditation techniques into my legal practice!

The rest of our day proved to be just as impactful. We were fortunate to have lunch with the second-year associates, who imparted words of wisdom and advice. We attended an inspiring program by the dynamic Werten Bellamy titled, “The Indispensable Associate.” I think it’s safe to say that we all used our newly attained mindfulness techniques to help internalize Werten’s powerful message. He gave practical and sound advice on how to take ownership of our careers and seize on opportunities to become an indispensable associate. Our first day would not have been complete without a 10@ with Marshall Pasternack to share insights and remind us that a shot not taken is a goal not scored. The day ended with a welcome happy hour at the very trendy and beautifully designed Wynwood restaurant Made in Italy. It was so great to be reunited with Jessica, Brendan and Anthony, and to reconnect with everyone at Bilzin Sumberg that had made our summer experience so impactful. With such a transformative first day, I can’t wait to see what the next two weeks has in store!

IMG_1152
Geoff, Claudia, Frankie, Elise & Lauren pose in front of a piece of art in the exhibit

On Saturday, June 25th, the summer associates were invited to attend the annual firm dinner party. Spouses and significant others were included in the event, and it was very enjoyable to meet our colleagues’ partners.  We enjoyed a variety of delicious appetizers and mingled before taking our seats for dinner.

The lavishly catered event was held at a truly unique venue–the Rubell Family Collection— in the Wynwood neighborhood.  The Rubell Family Collection was established in 1964 in New York City, and is now one of the world’s largest privately owned contemporary art collections.  Since 1993, the collection has been exhibited in a 45,000 square foot repurposed Drugs Enforcement Agency confiscated goods facility in Miami, Florida.  Currently, the thematic exhibition is called “No Man’s Land,” and features the work of female artists exclusively.  Having a dinner party surrounded by such unique contemporary art was a truly memorable experience.

It is hard to believe that the dinner party marked the end of the fifth week of our summer.  It is amazing how quickly our experience as Bilzin Sumberg summer associates is flying by.  With so many fun events, we are really getting to know the attorneys at the firm outside of the office setting.  Next up, we have an evening of theater at the Arsht Center  to see Summer Shorts with the Corporate and Tax groups to look forward to!