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Summer Associate Blog

Drakkar Noir, Pugs, and Madonna: A Must-Read

As Summer Associates at Bilzin Sumberg, we have been blessed with both an innocuous and nurturing work environment. At times, the legal questions we face can be more overwhelming than the near-lethal scent of the Axe/ Drakkar Noir body spray cocktail that Geoff bathes himself in after the firm-wide yoga classes, and we are lucky to be able to turn to our mentors for guidance (Shout-outs to Craig, Naomi, Phil, Veronica, Mildred, Carly, and Brandon). Thankfully, all of the mentors abide by the policy that “no question is a dumb question”. (Unless you are asking who got the highest score on the July 2015 Florida Bar Exam.)

Our mentors have been especially helpful in navigating the plethora of hearty assignments placed on our metaphorical plates. Every day we are presented with brand new opportunities to practice in unique areas of the law (even though Lauren’s calling might actually be professional poker) . Our assignment pool spans the legal landscape and work is constantly rolling in from partners in Litigation, Land Use, Corporate, Real Estate, Business Finance and Restructuring, and Tax. This variety has motivated and energized us throughout the daily grind (picture this, not this). Although a great deal of our work involves billable assignments incorporating serious client interaction and written work-product, that is not all we have taken on this summer.

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Night at the Museum, the Firm Dinner Party


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!

Can’t Read My Poker Face?

The poker champ gets serious about the tournament!

The poker champ gets serious about the tournament!

Yesterday the summer associates joined the Real Estate and Business Finance & Restructuring practice groups at the Coral Reef Yacht Club for an exciting night filled with food, drinks, and most importantly poker. For many of us it was the first time playing poker but thanks to a quick tutorial at the Coral Reef Yacht Club and Poker for Dummies, Elise, Jenny and I were able to catch up to speed–sort of.

The night went by very quickly, everything was fast paced as the master dealer kept us all on track to have a winner sooner rather than later. As an additional incentive, partners had a “bounty” on their heads, an AMEX gift card was given to any summer or associate who was able to eliminate a partner from the table, which made everything that much more exciting. Elise and I were at the same table and I have to say we held our own for a pretty long time… although we still don’t know if we actually have good poker faces or we were just so clueless it worked to our advantage.

As players were eliminated, the best players from each table gathered at one table for the final round. A crowd of spectators gathered and many of us thought previous tournament champ Jared Spector was going to blow everyone out of the water for the second time. Not this time… we were all watching intently as Lauren slowly eliminated everyone and became the first woman to win the poker tournament. Lauren went home with multiple AMEX giftcards and an iPad mini, she was stoked and mentioned this had been her favorite event by far.

It was an exciting night and all of us learned a lot, including to take it with a grain of salt when Lauren says she’s “rusty”.. must’ve been her good poker face!


The poker champ gets serious about the tournament!

Cheers (Fish) to That!

Still life of a fly rod in a boat

Between assignments and events, I soon found myself in week 5 of the summer associate program at Bilzin Sumberg. Along with week 5 came the highly anticipated Rosa Mexicano summer associate lunch in the wonderful company of Mitch Widom, Jessica Buchsbaum, and the litigation associates. After hearing plenty of stories from alumni about this lunch, my fellow summer associates and I knew exactly what to expect–Mitch would order us margaritas, and we would love them.

Over tasty guacamole later, Mitch regaled us with stories about his fishing adventures in Alaska and made me even more excited about our awaited fishing trip. While Mitch’s wife broke fishing records on their trip to Alaska, I’ll settle for a catch hefty enough to cook for dinner post-fishing.

I was especially blown away by Mitch’s ability to turn his passion for fishing into the Keymorada Invitational Fly-Spin Tournament. The tournament’s proceeds go to the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America and the UM Crohn’s & Colitis Center. Bilzin Sumberg’s devotion to the well-being of its community continues to inspire me everyday.

We’re Halfway There!

fortune cookieIt is hard to believe that we are at the halfway point of our summer. So much has happened and we have learned so much, but it still feels like we just walked through the doors and saw Bilzin Sumberg’s amazing ocean view for the first time.

Even though it feels like we just arrived, the Summer Associates have had tons of opportunities to get to know the attorneys. We are having lunch with different people every day (most recently at the recently-opened Brickell location of Coyo Taco with David Resnick and Josh Kaplan) and we have had tons of social events, like the Two Chefs Summer Associate Alumni Event. On Thursday, some of the associates organized an informal happy hour at Burger and Beer Joint here in Brickell. It was fun to talk to everyone outside of the office and snack on some fried pickles and mini corn dogs. Everyone here has been so friendly and welcoming, and it is great to hear more about why everyone chose to come to Bilzin Sumberg. Two of the brand new Litigation Associates, Ken Duvall and Danielle Moriber, also attended and were able to get to know everybody.

The happy hour was also a great opportunity to talk to some of the past Summer Associates about our mid-summer reviews, which were on Friday. Everyone told us not to be nervous, but it was still nerve racking! Despite the nerves, it is always great to get some feedback from Jay, Jessica and our mentors and to have the opportunity to ask questions about what we could be doing better. I asked a few questions about narrowing down my interests, because I’ve worked on a really broad range of assignments, but the best part, in my opinion, was hearing the specific feedback from each attorney we’ve worked with on an assignment. Hearing what we did well and what could be improved, in their words, was a great way to re-center and gear up for the second half of the summer!

Two Chefs (But We’ve Got Us A Few Here)

Above-left: Frankie, my sous-chef, clearly jealous of my culinary prowess (my artisanal flatbread, seen here, was unanimously crowned “dish of the night”)

We’ve been told from day one that Bilzin Sumberg hires summer associates with the intent that they will one day become partners at the Firm. While this may sound too good to be true, attendance at last night’s dinner event exemplifies Bilzin Sumberg’s dedication to retaining the highly qualified attorneys that began their careers here as summer associates.

In addition to the 2016 summer associate stars, the event’s guest list included prominent members of previous summer classes, such as Leah Aaronson, Desiree Fernandez, Jerry Goldsmith, Jared Spector, Shalia Sakona, Lori Lustrin, Mildred Gomez, and Jeff Snyder. The night was made even more special thanks to guest appearances from Jessica Buchsbaum and Jay Sakalo who, while not summer associates at Bilzin Sumberg themselves, are certainly honorary members of the 2016 class.

Two Chefs Restaurant describes the private-party cooking class as a “cooking adventure… under the guidance of a chef… designed to build camaraderie while honing your cooking skills.” This description, while accurate, omits the wine that was certainly responsible for some of the more “imaginative” artisanal flatbread topping combinations. Other culinary highlights of the evening included pecan crusted lump crab cake, ahi tuna tartare, stuffed mushroom caps, Caesar salad, toasted quinoa, grilled salmon, and grilled New York strip steak (as if we weren’t already fed well enough). Continue Reading

Ladies Night for the Lotus House

With three weeks down and six to go, the summer is in full swing. We are getting the hang of balancing assignments and social events while also getting to know the attorneys and each other. Last week, the ladies of the summer associate class got to join the women attorneys of Bilzin Sumberg in volunteering for United Way and the Lotus House. The Lotus House is a Miami organization that provides shelter for homeless women and children. Not only do they provide shelter, the Lotus House gives these women training, education, and resources to improve their lives.

The particular event we attended was Women Helping Women, which is part of the United Way Women’s Leadership group. There were so many women from a variety of local community organizations there to volunteer for the Lotus House. If that wasn’t inspiring enough, Georgette, a Lotus House alumnus, spoke to us about how the organization lifted her and her young daughter out of poverty only three years ago. She now holds a position at the Lotus House and was recently promoted. Her story left tears in our eyes and truly exemplified the impact the Lotus House has on women, children, and our greater community.

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The Baking of the Clams

A picture of the Summer Associates at the Clam Bake (This is what happens when they wait until I already left to take a photo)

A picture of the Summer Associates at the Clam Bake (This is what happens when they wait until I already left to take a photo)

This is a story of survival. This past weekend, the Litigation Department was kind enough to invite the Summer Associates to a good ol’ fashion clam bake (or so we thought…). The following post details the experience of seven Summer Associates, thirty litigation attorneys, and one clam bake . . .

From the moment I entered Michael Kreitzer’s neighborhood, I realized that a number of challenges awaited me. Michael was kind enough to host the event at his  waterfront home that boasted picturesque views. Sounds incredible, right? Not so fast. I first had to survive the second most treacherous drive of my life (right behind Jenny driving us to the Marlins game last week). I was continuously distracted as my gaze was drawn towards the rows of yachts lining the bright blue water (think Odysseus and the Sirens). Luckily, I was able to snap out of my Miami Vice daydream in time to safely arrive at Michael’s. The danger had just only begun…

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Summer Associates Tagging-Along

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

Seize the day summer!

Desk, files, pen, calculatorI can’t believe we’re already diving into week 3! It feels like just yesterday I was sitting in computer training and now I’m about to start my 5th assignment. The summer is a short period of time but the firm really does try to give us a very holistic picture of what life as an associate at Bilzin Sumberg is like. As I reflect on my time here thus far, I realize I’ve already encountered some challenges balancing assignments and social events. At the time, having to balance assignments and events seemed stressful but I quickly realized this is what attorneys are always aiming for… “work-life” balancing is real and definitely a learned skill.

So, far none of us have had to miss events due to impending deadlines and I think that is a great reflection of the time management abilities of my talented colleagues. All 7 of us have very different working styles, but one thing we do share in common as Jenny says is that we all  “live by our calendars.” But sometimes even with an organized calendar, things don’t go as planned. For example, earlier this week as I was preparing to submit an assignment due on close of business day, another assignment due later on in the week suddenly became urgent. I switched gears and finished the assignment due immediately and thankfully was still able to submit the other assignment on time. That sort of adaptability and flexibility will also be necessary later on when I become a junior associate and I’m glad my summer experience is preparing me for those future situations.

It’s not only about balancing assignments themselves but also about balancing assignments with social events. I think as a summer associate it is important to complete assignments and get a feel for different practice areas but it is also just as important to meet the attorneys at the firm. That’s why social events are so crucial–I plan on not missing any this summer (plus it helps that they all look super fun)! We received a detailed calendar of our events on the first day of orientation and therefore my strategy when balancing work involves a lot of planning ahead. I try to estimate how much time certain assignments will take (with some room for the unexpected) so that I’m hopefully never faced with choosing between meeting a deadline and attending an event. So far this has worked out well for me and I’m sure my future self will be glad I practiced this early on in my career. By staying organized and planning ahead I hope to be able to maximize my time as a summer associate and seize the summer!