Last Friday, the Summer Associates attended the Federal Court Observer Program at the Wilkie D. Ferguson Federal Courthouse. This event is hosted every year by the Honorable Paul C. Huck, a Senior U.S. District Judge for the Southern District of Florida, and provides a forum for law students working in South Florida to learn and network with judges and attorneys practicing in the area.

 

Our day began with a moot court argument between four law students regarding a motion hearing in Fresh Results, LLC v. ASF Holland, B.V. et al–a case that is actually before Judge Huck right now. This experience was great because we were able to witness how a Federal judge reasons through competing debates during oral argument. After, there was the “From Law Student to Young Lawyer” panel. Young lawyers from various different law firms gave their personal advice on how to succeed as a summer associate and practical steps we can take today to better situate ourselves for a successful career. The next panel, “How to Keep Partners Happy,” was my favorite segment of the morning. There, partners at some of the largest law firms in Miami gave advice about what they are looking for in a junior associate. They gave us real stories of characteristics that really made a particular associate stand out or, contrarily, fall behind. The event ended with a panel from U.S. District Court Judges about their daily lives and general anecdotes about the things they see from the bench. The judges included Judge Altonaga, Judge Bloom, Judge O’Sullivan, and Judge Huck.

One of my primary objectives coming into the summer was to establish a plan of action for my future, both at Bilzin Sumberg and in the Miami community. Of course, at the top of the list was figuring out which of the firm’s prestigious Practice Groups I would prioritize, but I also wanted to put myself on a path to career development and community entrenchment that would carry me for the duration of my career. Over two-thirds of the way through the summer, I can confidently say that the summer associate program has helped me to accomplish this goal through meaningful work with substantive feedback and consistent attorney mentorship opportunities. Everyday has proven to be a new chance for us to learn, grow, and have fun, and Bilzin Sumberg could not be more welcoming in helping us to feel at home while providing us with a  practical dose of real legal work. Continue Reading Learning from Lawyers over Lunch: The Life of a Summer Associate

Bilzin Sumberg strives to make the summer associates an integral part of the team to see what it is like to work within the office. From participating in client meetings to tag-a-longs, Bilzin Sumberg makes the summer experience as realistic as possible. We can dabble in multiple practice areas to interact with several lawyers and better understand the firm’s culture; consequently, I’ve learned diverse tips from numerous Bilzin attorneys that have helped me grow as a summer associate.

Here are some quotes of advice I’ve noted that may be beneficial to an incoming summer associate:

  • Immerse yourself in the community in whichever way makes you happy. Get involved and be a citizen. –Scott Baena
  • Enjoy dabbling in different areas of the law and meeting as many people as you can. This will help you determine which group/practice area is the best fit for you. –Misbah Farid
  • Communication and effort are keys to success; you aren’t expected to know everything about the law. If you communicate and try your best to do things right that you have control over, you should be in good shape. –Elise Holtzman
  • Everything is a learning opportunity, get to know the people you’re working with, communication is key, and don’t forget to have fun. –Jennifer Junger
  • My advice to summer associates would be to be diligent, check your work product for accuracy and consistency, as if there will not be another layer of review before it goes to the client, and ask follow-up questions when necessary. –Jennifer Llano
  • You miss every shot you don’t take. Also, treat every person with courtesy and respect, no matter the job title. –Marshall Pasternack
  • Follow-up on assignments for feedback. And if you make a mistake, do not be afraid to ask for a 2nd chance. –Jay Sakalo
  • Communicate to the attorney every fork in the road you encountered in your research, which path you chose, and why you chose it. Do not be afraid to reach out, pick up the phone, and ask questions to vet your assumptions. –Eric Singer
  • Get as much exposure to as many different practice areas as you can because you may be surprised by what captures your interest. I would also take time to understand how the firm operates, learning the ins and outs of the firm’s operations will be more important than you think as a young associate. –Craig Thompson

With the summer zooming by at Bilzin Sumberg, the summer associates and I have found ourselves in the next phase of the mock real estate transaction. Until now, battle lines were drawn with Eric and me playing the Seller and the Seller’s attorney and Devin, Lucas, and Ben playing joint Buyers and the Buyers’ attorney respectively in previous mock real estate negotiations.  Last week, however, a temporary truce was called with the introduction of the joint venture seminar.  In this new exercise, Devin, Lucas, and Ben continued to portray the company The Good Guys LLC composed of the Avengers. Instead, however, they were tasked to see things from the perspective of a Developer.  Eric and I, on the other hand, portrayed the mighty Starlord, also known as the leaders of the Guardians of the Galaxy. We were tasked with seeing from the perspective of a business partner. The seminar was expertly presented by Partner at the firm Marshall Pasternack and associate David Resnick, and we were all given a crash course on the pillars of joint venture contracts. We reviewed the key components of a joint venture and some of the essential elements necessary to make a joint venture succeed.  In this exercise, the venture was to build a super hero home base condo in Miami.

 

Prepared with the necessary tools, the summer associates and I came together to work on our first operating agreement. In the agreement, details like preferred returns and monetary distributions were discussed until both parties could come to an agreement. The exercise was definitely less intense as compared to the other negotiations that have occurred. It was obvious that both sides wanted to reach the end result of a good partnership, which helped the discussions to go smoothly.  Overall, it was a great exercise! However, things will definitely heat back up again once we return to our real estate transaction between The Good Guys LLC and the Bad Guy LLC!

Towards the conclusion of last week, the 2018 Bilzin Sumberg summer associates began one of the stages of the annual summer associate program: the real estate mock transaction. This exercise will take us through all of the stages of an actual real estate transaction while providing us with a practical dose of legal practice as we take on the roles of buyer, seller, and each parties’ respective attorneys. I will be representing Devin and Lucas, who will serve as the buyers, and Eric will be representing Brianna, who will play the role of our seller. Our fact pattern is (loosely) based on the recent Marvel Avenger’s Infinity War movie, with the buyer’s working to purchase the last “Infinity Stone property” from the seller Thanos’ holding company, “THE BAD GUY LLC”. Devin, Lucas, and I are the only thing standing between Thanos and world domination! As per usual, Jessica Bucshbaum and Betsi Cobas did an outstanding job making the exercise especially interesting by creating a fun scenario for us.

Continue Reading Some Friendly Competition for World Domination

Our first two weeks at Bilzin Sumberg surpassed all expectations!

On Thursday, May 24th, we participated in one of the numerous opportunities the firm offers to give back to the community. The firm supported Red Nose Day, an international fundraising campaign dedicated to ending child poverty. After donating, we were all invited to clown around for a good cause at a photo booth filled with props—including crowns, taco hats, and, of course, red noses. From day one, everyone has highlighted the significance of being involved through the Bilzin Sumberg Cares initiative, and Thursday was yet another example of the firm’s commitment to philanthropy.

Bilzin Sumberg not only empowers us to give back, they invest in our development to become better lawyers. Our Friday WestLaw training session included lessons on how to: find court filing rules and checklists, compare law across jurisdictions, and craft a systematic research approach. I appreciate that if I ever get stuck in my research for an assignment, there will be a small army of people to help me get on the right track; I have never felt overwhelmed, just encouraged and supported. Through substantive training programs and day-to-day legal practice support, Bilzin Sumberg fosters efficiency to ensure our success. I’m looking forward to the upcoming seven weeks!

 

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.

The Summer Associates have arrived on deck and the 2018 Summer Program is in full swing! As a returning Summer Associate here at Bilzin Sumberg, I am especially excited to be back. I am also very grateful to work alongside such talented colleagues again.

Our schedule early this week consisted of various orientation events—including lessons on firm history, billing, and efficient use of the firm information management systems. Bilzin Sumberg provides various resources and a very strong support staff to ensure that everyone within the team succeeds during the summer and beyond.

On our second day at Bilzin Sumberg, we attended the first major social event of the summer: the traditional firm welcome reception. Each of us is assigned an attorney mentor for the summer, and one of their responsibilities is to officially introduce us to the entire firm at the reception. After being hailed aboard by our mentors, we then took the opportunity to socialize with all of the attorneys and staff.

While it is important for us to network and build camaraderie early on, it is also important for us to gain practical experience and develop our legal skills. Bilzin Sumberg provides the foundation to do so. As Summer Associates, we have already had invaluable opportunities to take on a diverse array of projects from virtually every practice group. We may also take the initiative to seek out specific projects when available.

Again: having been here last summer, I am especially grateful to be back—and I look forward to the weeks ahead!

 

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 freshly sworn-in attorneys, Jenny and I headed in to our final days with renewed enthusiasm and excitement to officially start our careers at Bilzin Sumberg. On Friday, we began with the 21st Century Business Writing Workshop. We reviewed important skills we honed in law school and during our summer positions, and we also got to focus on the other types of writing we will engage as young associates. I left with a new perspective on how to share scholarship and insights as an attorney rather than a student, as well as how to find my voice and convey it through my writing.

 Next, we put our accountant hats on and learned how to read various financial statements with Stacia Wells, a partner in the Corporate department. While I successfully avoided diving in to this topic during law school, Stacia had an uncanny ability to make something quite complex understandable and relatable. I can confidently say I am no longer intimidated by financial statements. Also, this session with Stacia reminded me that the lawyers at our firm are great resources for complex issues that are not necessarily legal.

 Our next presentation was from John Sumberg and Scott Baena, and they told us about the firm’s creation and history, mission, values, and goals. It was a truly incredible and unique experience to hear about the growth and success of the firm from two of its founders. The emphasized the importance of community involvement, building relationships, and Bilzin Sumberg’s role as a large law firm uniquely embedded in the fabric of Miami.

We ended the day with a discussion about Client Satisfaction with Scott Baena. He explained his findings after meeting with many of the firm’s clients about what they value about Bilzin Sumberg, and what we can do, even as first year associates, to enhance service and add value to our client’s experience.

 Our last full day of The Academy began with a Practice Development talk with Jim Cranston from Law Vision Group. Jim helped us set short, mid, and long term goals for our own practice development. He helped us think about what we can do now to build relationships and eventually create a network that benefits us both personally and professionally.

 Later we went to lunch with the second year associates, Brendan Studley, Anthony Sirven, and Jennifer Junger. It was nice and relieving to hear about the lessons they learned their first year, and to know we always have people to talk to for any of our concerns. After lunch, we met with Michael Kreitzer to discuss real ethical dilemmas. We went through some interesting and realistic hypotheticals, talking about both what we would do as the attorney in the situation as well as what the Rules of Professional Conduct require of us. It reminded us that sometimes just because something is not an ethical conflict, it might still be a business conflict, and it is just as important to handle those with care in order to be the best lawyer for your client.

We ended the day with the Advanced Legal Research Skills seminar with Michael Moore, our Research and Competitive Intelligence Analyst and Jeff Snyder, a Business Finance & Restructuring partner. Michael gave us great research sources, tactics, and tips that will surely help us this coming year. Jeff supplemented Michael’s great tips with advice on how to do research most efficiently and accurately for the assigning attorneys.

 The last couple days of The Academy were jam-packed with invaluable discussions, advice, and information. As The Academy comes to an end I realize how helpful the last week will be to my career going forward. Furthermore, I am honored to join a firm that sees the importance in my personal and professional development at such an early point in my career. I feel equipped with all of the tools I need, and I am ready to get started!