After practicing our meditation at home in the early morning, we started our second day of the Academy at Bilzin Sumberg with a presentation by Werten Bellamy, on the topic of the “Indispensable Associate.” Werten discussed the best ways for us, as new associates, to make ourselves valuable to the firm and to promote our personal growth as lawyers. What will our personal brands be as new associates? How will we learn the styles and communication preferences of the partners with whom we work? These are all questions we need to be asking ourselves as new attorneys, and I think that Werten provided us with truly useful tools to make these decisions.

After Werten’s presentation, we sat down for a roundtable discussion over lunch with representatives from Bilzin Sumberg’s five practice groups: Tax, Trusts and Estates, Land Use and Government Relations, Real Estate, Corporate, and Litigation. Each partner briefly discussed his or her group’s work and then filled us all in on a few recent projects. The firm has a ton of exciting cases and deals going on, many of which include several practice groups, so it was really interesting and useful to hear how the collaboration works. We also had the opportunity to ask questions about each practice.

Next, we heard from Eric Singer about best practices for billing our time and from Laura Galeano about leveraging and improving our social media presence before sitting down for a panel on effective networking. Elise Holtzman Gerson, Adrian Felix, Andrej Micovic, Scott Baena, and Brian Bilzin sat on the panel, with Sara Herald moderating. Their pointers and advice was different from what we heard from Werten, but echoed the idea that as junior lawyers we need to be taking initiative and looking for ways to distinguish ourselves. Even though we are only two days into the Academy, I am constantly reminded how lucky I am to be working at a firm that invests so much in its young associates and emphasizes our personal development to such a degree. Afterwards, we got to practice our new skills at a fun happy hour at Morton’s with the recruiting committee!


 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

The time for my final summer blog post has come. I know… try to hold back your tears (regardless of whether they are tears of joy or sadness). I’ve decided to take this time to share a few tips regarding how to make the most of your time as a Summer Associate at Bilzin Sumberg:

Continue Reading Five Survival Tips for the Summer Associate

As part of the summer associate experience, Bilzin Sumberg coordinates tag-along opportunities for the summer associates to attend. This week, Elise and I witnessed Al Dotson represent Related Urban Development Company before the County Commission. Hundreds of Liberty Square residents stepped up to the podiums to remind those present of the exigency of the approval of the redevelopment. Continue Reading One Step Closer

Last night, Bilzin Sumberg hosted its annual year-end party at the Rusty Pelican on Key Biscayne.  This event is one of the most anticipated of the year because everyone in the firm gathers to celebrate in a beautiful and festive environment.  The firm rolled out the red carpet for employees and photographers captured the memories with framed souvenir pictures.

The highlights of the night were introducing two of our four incoming 2015 2L summer associates to the firm and seeing Desiree Fernandez and Leah Aaronson from our 2014 summer associate program.  I always enjoy introducing incoming summer associates to previous summer associates and watching friendships bloom.  Throughout the night, summer associate alumni from all years were spotted chatting, laughing and dancing the night away (see photos of the fun in the slideshow below).

The view

The view of Brickell and Downtown Miami from the Rusty Pelican Terrace.


The view from the Rusty Pelican Terrace.


From Left to Right: Eryca Schiffman (First Year Associate), Brendan Studley (2015 Summer Associate) and Naomi Alzate (First Year Associate).


From Left to Right: Adam Fischer, Jessica Buchsbaum, Desiree Fernandez, Amy Podolsky, Leah Aaronson and Nadia Kruler.


From Left to Right: Carly Grimm, Naomi Alzate, Eryca Schiffman, Veronica Gordon and Brandon Rose (summer associate alumni).


From Left to Right: 2015 Summer Associates Anthony Sirven and Brendan Studley with 2014 Summer Associate Desiree Fernandez.


Summer Associate Alumni Brandon Rose and Carly Grimm.


Summer Associate Alumni dancing the night away at the 2014 year-end party at Rusty Pelican.

The summer associates and several attorneys met at Bilzin Sumberg’s offices to hop on a bus set for Key Largo on a sunny Saturday morning. Lead by the firm’s fishing legend himself, Mitch Widom, we ventured aboard a chartered fishing boat and began our journey on the water.

After a wonderful ride through the clearest water any of us had ever seen, we anchored at a beautiful spot where the fish were certainly biting. We caught all sorts of fish but could only keep those that were legally large enough, so we had to throw a lot of them back. Jerry definitely had his fair share of small fish – he must have caught and released at least 20!

The second spot was even better than the first. Almost every one of us caught a “keeper” snapper, or a snapper that we were able to take off the boat. The fish were even hungrier at this spot; we were losing bait so quickly that the captain and boat mates had to refill our bait containers numerous times! Better yet, we had an awesome cheerleading squad. Nadia Kruler and Jessica Buchsbaum were there every time someone yelled “fish on!” with a giant smile and a camera.

After docking, we went to Snappers! The chefs cooked our just-caught snapper into delicious fish-fingers that we enjoyed as our appetizer. The rest of the meal was fresh as can be. The fishing trip was definitely one for the books – a top activity of the summer on all counts!


Gone Fishin'!


Nadia Kruler, Jessica Buchsbaum and Mitch Widom.


Leah Aaronson and Jerry Goldsmith.


Nadia Kruler and Leah Aaronson.


Jerry Goldsmith fishing.


Desiree Fernandez fishing.


Scott Wagner's catch.


Desiree Fernandez's catch.


Jana Croft's catch.


Leah Aaronson's catch.


Mitch Widom's catch.


Jerry Goldsmith's catch.


Jared Spector's catch.


Mindy Mora's catch.


Jenny Araque's catch.


The group on the Sailor's Choice.


Fresh caught fish fingers at Snapper's Restaurant in Key Largo.

It’s hard to believe, but we’re already two thirds of the way through the summer program. Just as Marshall Pasternack predicted on our first day, the summer has flown by. As we get closer to the end, we have all begun to reflect on our assignments and contemplate which practice group we feel fits us best. While the type of work and interest in that work is the most important factor, fit within a practice group is also important. Bilzin Sumberg also believes that fit is important, and has several different mechanisms to help us identify how each of the summer associates would fit in a particular department.

 In addition to the ability to pick our own assignments and interact with practice groups at periodic social events, the summer associates have moved offices throughout the summer in order to see how each department practices on a day-to-day basis. We started the summer on the 22nd floor, where we spent three weeks with the Real Estate, Corporate and Tax departments. We then moved up to the 23rd floor, where we spent another three weeks with the Government Relations and Land Development department. And this past Monday, we moved up to the 24th floor where we will spend our final three weeks with the Litigation and Business Finance & Restructuring groups.

Moving floors periodically has a number of advantages (especially some of the views), but the greatest advantage is that it enables us to see each floor’s dynamic, as each floor has a different environment and feel. It also allows to meet attorneys and staff from different departments more frequently and more intimately–we have found that, naturally, people stop by our offices more frequently when we’re on their department’s floor. This has been a great opportunity for us to get to know them both on a personal and professional level.





Last Tuesday night, the Summer Associates went go-kart racing with Bilzin Sumberg‘s Business Finance and Restructuring Group at K1 Speed Indoor Go Kart Racing. The event started off on a bit of a sad note as we watched the United States soccer team‘s demise in the World Cup. However, excitement and anticipation soon filled the air as we walked over to the indoor race track. The K1 Speed instructors gave us a quick tutorial on how to operate the go-karts, and then split us up into two groups. Each group drove a 14 lap qualifying round and the group members were ranked according to their fastest laps. K1 then rearranged the two groups for a championship round of 12 laps and once again ranked the group members.

Theories abound regarding how K1 rearranged the groups. Most believe that K1 selected the fastest drivers from each group and placed them in group 1, and then placed the remaining drivers in group 2. Others (mostly folks from group 2) maintain that the rearrangement was completely random.  

Scott Baena, Chair of the Business Finance and Restructuring Group, came in first place in both the qualifying and group 1 championship rounds and was the fastest and most efficient driver by far. He later disclosed that a family member of his is an avid go-kart racer, and that he has had some practice. John Atkinson and Jay Sakalo came in second and third place respectively.

Jenny Araque was also one of the night’s best racers. After a mediocre performance in the qualifying round, Scott Baena observed that Jenny had some serious talent but was not actualizing her full potential. He urged her to “be aggressive, Jenny!” and she ended up coming in first place in the group 2 championship round. Jared Spector, the only summer associate to rank, came in second place in group 2 and Eugene (“Gene”) Polyak came in third.

We ended the night with a Mexican dinner and an award ceremony. Overall, the night was an excellent opportunity for the summer associates to spend quality time with Bilzin’s Business Finance and Restructuring attorneys. We were able to learn about the relationship between business finance and restructuring and get to know many attorneys we have worked with over the course of the summer.

K1 Lineup

The racers warming up!

K1 Leah

Leah Aaronson at the start line.

K1 Scott Baena

Scott Baena at the start line.

K1 Atkinson

John Atkinson excited about racing!

K1 Jay

Jay Sakalo at the start line.


Jessica Buchsbaum & Mindy Mora in their head gear before racing.

K1 Scott Jay John Podium

Group 1 Winners! 1st Place - Scott Baena, 2nd Place - John Atkinson, 3rd Place - Jay Sakalo.

Podium Jenny, Gene, Jared

Group 2 Winners! 1st Place - Jenny Araque, 2nd Place - Jared Spector, 3rd Place - Gene Polyak.

K1 Group

The group after the racing event.

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!

Last night, the Bilzin Sumberg summer associates, both old (alumni) and new (current), endured the traffic on US1 to drive to Two Chefs in South Miami for a night of great food, wine, and company. A favorite night of the summer for many who have attended over the years, the summer associate alumni cooking event was certainly a ton of fun.

We cooked our own dinner! After being handed an apron and a towel by our ‘master chefs,’ the 20-or-so of us split into groups. Each group was responsible for making a different dish; the menu included quesadillas, tuna tartare, risotto, quinoa, salmon, steak, and of course, Two Chefs’ famous chocolate soufflé. There was plenty of work to go around and we all played a part in some aspect of the meal.

I began my cooking contribution by helping Shalia Sakona with the soufflé – a much harder task than I had anticipated. Thankfully, Shalia had the skill needed to get the job done. I, on the other hand, found that slowly churning a giant pan of risotto with Eric Singer was much more my speed. The steak was delicious too, despite the fact that Brandon Rose almost ruined it by incorrectly laying the meat on the grill (which, admittedly, none of us knew could ruin a steak).

Eating the meal was just as fun as cooking it. Everyone had a great time sharing past summer associate stories while cleaning their plates of all the delicious food. The Two Chefs event was certainly a success!

Shalia preparing the chocolate souffle

Shalia preparing the chocolate souffle

Summer Associate Alumni Brandon, John & Kyle

Brandon, John & Kyle

David preparing salmon

David preparing salmon

Desiree making quinoa

Desiree making quinoa

Moshe preparing the broccoli

Moshe preparing the broccoli

Leah, Michael & Shalia enjoying the tuna tartare

Leah, Michael & Shalia enjoying the tuna tartare