The first year associates with Judge Thornton after taking their oath.
Today was an exciting day! Not only did our first year associates conclude their participation in The Academy for Professional Development, they also became members of The Florida Bar. Judge Thornton graciously took time to talk to us about civility, ethics and motion practice. With family, friends and loved ones present, Judge Thornton then administered the Oath of Attorney.
We hope that over the past two and a half weeks, we filled the hearts and minds of Jennifer, Jessica, Anthony and Brendan. They’ve seen great need and innovation in our community and we can’t wait for them to embark on their legal careers and grow to become leaders in our community.
In what feels like a matter of days, we’ve reached the third and final week of The Academy! Monday morning, we began the day at the office bright and early in the boardroom with Michael Kreitzer. Michael spoke to us about the basics of motion calendar and the different ways lawyers may prepare for their motions. We then took a trip to the Dade County Courthouse. Before motion calendar, we met with Judge Samantha Ruiz-Cohen in her chambers and had the chance to speak with her before what would be a very structured and eventful morning. The four of us first years filed into the jury box with Jessica Buchsbaum and Michael to witness the morning’s calendar beginning sharply at 9 a.m. In the approximate hour-and-a-half we were in the courtroom, we witnessed a variety of advocacy styles, legal issues, and requests from Judge Ruiz-Cohen.
Succeeding our morning’s theme of advocacy, we headed over to the Lotus House for a meeting with their Director, Anna Frusciante . She brought to our attention the issue of homelessness in Miami, specifically among women and children in the city. The discussion provoked thoughtful questions about the challenges homeless women face and the opportunities for assistance to the cause in the community. While at Lotus House, we learned that the center has the ability to accommodate up to 250 women and children, turning away thousands in need each year. Thankfully, after some pro bono work by many firm lawyers the organization is in the process of building a beautiful new location to accommodate over 500 women and children! While visiting, we were able to watch a short clip of a rendering of the new Lotus House facility, set to open in December of 2017!
Back at the office, we heard from David Trench and Melissa Pallett-Vasquez about arbitration and litigation issues that arise in specific cases. We ended the day with a visit from Alan Ojeda, the developer of our very own 1450 Brickell office space and much much more throughout the city of Miami. Alan spoke to us about how he started his development career in Miami after hailing from Spain. Most inspiring were Alan’s stories of acquiring property, building projects while others doubted his plans, and subsequently continuing to complete the numerous projects, all of which are still successful many years after their completion!
The Academy attends a rehearsal session for the “Spirit of Goodwill” Band
With two full weeks of the Academy behind us, I’ve been able to reflect on something that is truly inspiring. Bilzin Sumberg is not only investing in our development to become better lawyers, they are empowering us to become better people. Community is a major pillar of Bilzin Sumberg’s culture. This week was largely focused on ways in which we can give back to Miami.
We had the opportunity to speak with Jeff Levin and Mimi Klimberg from the Greater Miami Jewish Federation about identifying a cause for charity or community involvement. Throughout their presentation they cited research demonstrating that people are happier when they give back to the community. They stressed what Scott Baena and Marshall Pasternack have been reminding us all along: commit yourself to a cause that is important and meaningful to you.
Eileen Mehta introduced us to a cause that is important and meaningful to her. We had the honor and privilege of visiting Goodwill Industries of South Florida, a long-standing firm client. We met with David Landsberg, the President and CEO, who shared Goodwill’s vision and explained that Goodwill of South Florida is committed to creating jobs for people with disabilities. This particular Goodwill strives to train, employ and eventually assist in transitioning individuals with disabilities into the private work force. Goodwill South Florida is one of Miami Dade’s largest employers, and a large majority of those employees are people with disabilities, including autism, Down’s syndrome, cerebral palsy, intellectual disability, visual impairments and behavioral and psychological disabilities, who may otherwise have a difficult time seeking and maintaining employment. Goodwill has government contracts to produce Army uniforms and veteran’s flags, and additionally to clean many of the government buildings in Miami-Dade. Individuals with disabilities, employed and trained by Goodwill, complete a vast majority of this work.
Walking around the Goodwill facilities was completely invigorating. There were rows and rows of sewing machines, manned by incredibly hardworking and able individuals who appeared to take great pride and satisfaction in their work. Everywhere we looked there were pants being made, flags being produced, work being done and individual lives being shaped and bettered. As we walked around, we were greeted with many enthusiastic smiles, high fives and handshakes that certainly brightened all of our days.
The absolute highlight of my day was having the pleasure of hearing the “Spirit of Goodwill” band perform. The band members are talented, and their feel good music is guaranteed to touch your heart. The group is comprised of individuals with a wide array of disabilities, but their musical skill, excitement to perform and commitment to the band spoke so much louder than their disabilities.
Being in this incredible, opportunity-creating place made me so proud to work for Bilzin Sumberg. Eileen’s dedication helps make something like this possible. This experience reinforced the notion that the work we take has tremendous power to impact lives in a real and profound way.
The Academy visits Calle Ocho!
One of my favorite qualities of Miami is that is has held onto its vibrant roots in the community. Interestingly, the city also has an amazing ability to blend in large-scale examples of modern industry throughout, as explored in our firm’s New Miami Blog.
On the historical and cultural side, Miami has a number of excellent spots to enjoy some authentic Cuban food. To get a taste of Miami history, we headed out to an area called Little Havana, which is host to one of the best festivals in the country called “Carnaval Miami.” Packed with great shops and Miami history, Little Havana is also home to “Domino Park,” where for over 35 years, tradition has forged a meeting sport for friends and family to gather and enjoy their morning coffee with a competitive game of Dominoes.
Nicely complementing Miami’s culture, we were also able to see part of Miami’s latest industrial endeavors as we toured the All Aboard project that is underway in Downtown. The project, which is an express train service stretching from Miami to Orlando, is one of the many new and exciting developments going on to fuel Miami’s appetite for growth. Although the project will take some time to complete, we were impressed to see firsthand how quickly the company is transforming the Downtown area to include new upscale shopping and living space for tourists and residents alike to enjoy Miami’s culture.
Week two of The Academy is underway and we’ve already had two field trips. Up first was a visit to the United Way’s Center for Excellence in Early Education – a leading educational facility for children between one and five years old. While there we toured the educational facilities and also received a big-picture synopsis of what the United Way of Miami-Dade is doing in our community. In short, the United Way has partnered with other South Florida organizations that focus on three areas: Education, primarily in the early years; Financial Stability; and, Health. Though we had already participated in several of the United Way’s projects last summer, it was enlightening to learn more about the specific issues affecting our community – such as income and educational gaps and how they feed off each other – and, more importantly, how we can continue to get involved.
For our second trip, Suzanne Amaducci-Adams and Jon Chassen invited us to ride the Miami Metromover to tour the city. As we zipped through the Miami Skyline, Suzanne and Jon gave us a history lesson about the development of Brickell and Downtown Miami, and pointed out the projects they have worked or are currently working on – which, as an aside, included practically every building we passed along the way. Seeing these projects firsthand helped me appreciate our firm’s footprint on our city. But, as Suzanne emphasized, her primary goal was to introduce us to Miami Dade’s transportation system, which has seen exciting developments over the years and for which there remains many exciting opportunities.
In addition to the field trips, we’ve also had presentations by the Corporate and Real Estate Departments. It was exciting to learn more about what the departments do, the projects they have worked on, and how their deals often require teaming up with lawyers from other departments. Of course, that entailed covering a lot of material. So, to put that information into context, Stephen Sandiford and Christopher Pierson hilariously acted out a lawyer-client meeting in which Chris retained Stephen to help him sell a company that manufactures surgically-implanted communication devices – surely something many law partners would be lining up to buy for their associates. And after, we too became part of the program as Alexandra Lehson and Kent Koch turned the tables and asked us to negotiate a Guarantee Agreement for a multi-million dollar loan.
Overall, The Academy has provided us with an exciting introduction to our legal careers. We’ve had opportunities to interact with key members in our firm, leaders and organizations in our community, and professionals across many industries. I am excited to see what this last week holds, and even more excited to begin practicing after that.
Commissioner Cava visits Bilzin Sumberg
Our first week of the inaugural Academy continued with modules presented by members of our own law firm. We learned much about the different practices within the Business Finance and Restructuring group from bankruptcy to loan agreements and more. We also witnessed a live mock commission hearing from the Land Development and Governmental Relations group! This gave all of us attending the opportunity to witness not only how a they prepare for presentation to a county or city commission, but also the real interplay of commissioner questions and general public comments that are involved. This provided us with great insight to one of the advocacy components of the specific practice area.
Along with the presentations by attorneys from Bilzin Sumberg, unique perspectives from outside speakers helped our first-year class appreciate the importance of both community involvement and interaction. On Tuesday, a visit from Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava brought close-to-home meaning to more general words like “citizen” and “service.” Commissioner Cava spoke not only of her own triumphs in the greater Miami area, but causes our new attorneys (myself included!) could dedicate time to in an effort to improve areas within the community. Issues such as water conservation, education, and housing were some of the specific areas we discussed as showing plenty of need for local attention and service. A subsequent group discussion of the concept of giving back really enforced the idea that although attorneys serve those who need help with legal concepts, our broader role of assisting others in need extends far beyond law, and well into the community.
Later in the week, Jim Cranston from Law Vision Group hosted a morning session about practice development. Besides reinforcing the importance of networks and business development, Jim introduced us to concepts linking social media networks to professional interactions. It is easy for us to think of the two as necessarily separate, but with LinkedIn, and at times sites like Twitter, the two can truly be merged to foster professional networks and connections! Attorneys at the firm who publish blog posts covering an array of legal topics for example often share their discussions on different platforms to inform members of our own firm and far beyond of the changes in law or other findings. Utilizing these platforms effectively will definitely be helpful in discovering other individuals who are involved in areas related to our practice.
Overall, this week has sparked important ideas and concepts for the beginning of our professional careers as lawyers and also as community-members. I’m looking forward to the upcoming Academy lessons on these two aspects and more!
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!
Anthony, Jennifer, Brendan and Jessica on their first day as associates
Today, we are delighted to welcome back the 2015 bloggers! Jennifer, Jessica, Anthony and Brendan joined the firm today as first year associates. With law school and the bar exam behind them, they are embarking on their legal careers and we are excited to begin this journey with them. Their beginning also marks the beginning of an exciting new program at Bilzin Sumberg called The Academy for Professional Development.
Faced with a new generation of associates with a voracious appetite for hands-on training and a keen interest in becoming integral members of the community in which we practice, as well as new demands and expectations by clients that transcend conventional law school training, Bilzin Sumberg has established The Academy for Professional Development.
They’ll be blogging about it along the way and we can’t wait to share this experience with you!
The summer associates enjoying their ice cream sundaes!
I have the honor of writing the last blog post of the summer, as today was a pretty busy day for the summer associates – a group farewell lunch with mentors at Komodo, followed by a firm-wide ice cream social and lots of individual goodbyes.
As I reflect on the past nine weeks (that literally just flew by!), I’m grateful to the summer associates for their hard work and willingness to learn new things. They started the summer program with clear goals about the type of work they wanted, the tag along opportunities that interested them and the attorneys with whom they wanted to interact. We hope through the program and our training and mentoring we met – and exceeded – their expectations!
Throwback to our 2017 Summer Associates at Orientation!
I know that they feel as though they grew professionally over the summer and made friends at the firm and among themselves. . .oh, and they had a little fun a long the way. . .
We just want to let Frankie, Elise, Geoff, Hannah, Jenny, Claudia and Lauren know that we’ll miss them (their photoshopping skills, and their very entertaining blog posts, see here, here, here, here and here)!
As we move into the final few days of the summer, everyone is wrapping up assignments, saying their good-byes and enjoying the last of the summer events. I’m getting sad about leaving and appreciating the view from my office more every day.
View from the Brickell Ave side of the office
Last night, the Summer Associates, Jay, and Jessica headed to Trulucks in Brickell for an amazing feast of assorted appetizers, lobster bisque, steaks, salmon, and a decadent dessert platter. The conversation was lively, as we discussed the trips we have planned for the rest of the summer, Frankie’s apartment-hunt crisis, and Elise’s exciting run-in with the star of the Summer Shorts event.
We also reminisced about all the fun we had this summer – and everyone’s embarrassing stories. Jenny, for example, tried repeatedly to go down an up escalator during a tag along with Al Dotson. Upon realizing her mistake, she committed and tried to increase her pace, ultimately failing. Elise accidentally ordered an entire fish, eyeballs and all, at Sea Spice with Scott Baena. She claims to have ordered the filet – a likely story. Continue Reading