It was Wednesday evening, and we were all heading to the conference room for the Real Estate practice group’s event, the infamous Poker Tournament. It was my first time playing poker, but I opted for Jenny’s winning strategy and put all my chips on beginner’s luck. Though there was a tutorial for the beginners, I was as good as lost. I went to my assigned table where I found myself sitting between two partners, Martin Schwartz and Adam Lustig. I was a bit nervous. Okay, that’s an understatement.
Our table was hot when I was dealt my first good hand. Full house! I decided to raise Marty $500 in chips, leaving me with two $25 chips. Keep in mind that the chips were not backed by real money. Still, the pressure was on because whoever took out the partners won Visa gift cards, and the ultimate winner would receive an iPad. I was so confused when the cards were flipped, but turns out that Marty had four of a kind. Though I lost, I had just as much fun as a spectator. After an hour or so, the game intensified and the tables were merged so that there would be one winner. Ultimately, Jay Sakalo could build a house out of all the chips he had. He was the winner! Brendan Studley walked away with the iPad as the last summer associate standing.
We were all winners in a sense. I won new relationships with members of the Real Estate department that I had not met prior to the event. Not only that, but as I continue attending events, I feel more and more a part of the Bilzin Sumberg family. For now I’ll be counting down the days until our next event.
This week was full of programming, including two especially memorable events that took place in our office. On Tuesday, the Lean In Miami Circle hosted an event at Bilzin Sumberg for women. Veronica, Naomi, Eryca, Jen, and I made our way to the conference room after our work day to participate in the community event. Our firm’s own Mindy Mora moderated a discussion with a panel of three women who have mastered a work-life balance, financial planning, and other important skills for working women. Alexia Gonzalez discussed how important it was to maintain long term insurance like disability and partner insurance and Gloria Zaldivar discussed saving money and investing early in a 401K. Last on the panel, was a summer associate alumni and Tax, Trust & Estates associate, Mildred Gomez. Her focus at the event was on documents and resources that aid later-life decisions such as wills and power of attorney. I was surprised by how many women from all over South Florida attended; from practicing attorneys to young business owners and financial planners, the event hosted a range of successful women.
Just a few days later, the firm celebrated Brian Bilzin’s upcoming birthday with a wine and cheese event. Between a comedic toast from John Sumberg and words from Alan Axelrod, it was amazing to see how well people in the firm knew and connected with one another. Brian ended the evening with a heartfelt thank you, calling the firm his home and saying that he never wanted to leave it. Since the early interview stages with Bilzin Sumberg, I noticed a sense of inherent comfort and closeness amongst the members of the firm. Brian’s celebration only furthered my realization that Bilzin Sumberg is more than a firm, but a family.
Only three weeks in to our summer at Bilzin Sumberg, and we have already suited up for court! This past Friday Jessica, Camille, Anthony, Brendan and I had the opportunity to take a break from all of our interesting assignments and attend the 2015 Federal Court Observer Program at the Wilkie D. Ferguson United States Federal Courthouse. The program was presided by the Honorable Paul C. Huck, United States District Court Judge. It was an informative program aimed to provide real life insight, knowledge and advice to summer associates from Miami area firms and federal judicial interns.
The morning activities began with breakfast sponsored by the Federal Bar Association of the Southern District of Florida. We enjoyed bagels, fruit and coffee while networking with summer associates from different firms. It was a unique experience to get to meet and interact with so many future lawyers of Miami. With all of the summer associates and judicial interns, it was a packed courtroom!
The program began with a hearing on a rule 60(b) motion. Next, we heard from a panel of successful young attorneys, or as they were affectionately called “young guns.” Our very own Daniel Tropin was selected to participate in the panel! The panelists provided applicable advice on the transition from being a law student to a young lawyer. After, we heard from incredibly established and well-respected partners at various Miami law firms. This panel titled, “How to Keep Partners Happy” was one that I think everyone in the room paid extra close attention to. Lastly, a panel of esteemed federal judges discussed their varying paths to the bench, and what they expect from attorneys in their courtrooms.
By the end of the morning, I had learned so much from so many accomplished people. I am excited to bring this wealth of knowledge and advice into my own practice this summer and for the duration of my career!
In the middle of our third week, this summer is flying by! All of the Summer Associates are trying out assignments with different practice groups and meeting new attorneys every day. Already, I have completed projects in Real Estate, Litigation, and even Cybersecurity. In addition to great work experience, the Summer Associates had a fun opportunity to learn how to cook some fancy dishes at the Summer Associate Alumni Event, held at Two Chef’s restaurant.
At the restaurant, we all got to socialize with attorneys who went through the Summer Associate program before us, like Veronica Gordon, Adam Fischer, and Eryca Schiffman. It was great to hear their stories and experiences from when they were Summer Associates at Bilzin Sumberg, and all of the interesting matters they are working on now.
Luckily, we had an experienced cook in the kitchen –Anthony Sirven, or “Chef Tony”–who prepared delicious steak for all of us. Camille Manso and I prepared grilled salmon with a honey glaze sauce, while Lindsey Zohn Parker and Jay Sakalo put together tasty side dishes. Following all of our cooking, it was great to sit down and enjoy the dinner with everyone. The sweetest part was the chocolate soufflé, prepared by Jennyva Araque. Already, we have gotten to know everyone well and feel right at home.
Last week we began the Real Estate Mock Transaction training program. We met with our coaches and were divided into two teams: Seller’s Team, which includes Camille, Jennifer, and I; and, Buyer’s Team, which includes Jessica and Brendan. After being split up into teams and reading the Hunger Games themed fact scenario, Adam Lustig announced, “Let the Summer Games begin!” We then began the fast paced transaction with only 15 minutes to strike a multi-million dollar deal that would later be memorialized in a letter of intent.
I’ll admit, I was a bit nervous about negotiating a deal in a room filled with partners, especially since I want to practice in litigation and did not know what to expect. But, seconds into the negotiation, I realized why many prefer to work in the transactional side of law: it’s thrilling! (In fact, the negotiation felt a lot like playing poker, which explains why the real-estate department hosts a summer Poker Tournament.) Almost immediately, terms that I haven’t used–or heard–since first-year contracts were being thrown back and forth as both teams tried to negotiate the best deal for their respective clients, Fight to the Death, LLC (Sellers) and The Rebellion, LLC (Buyers). The negotiation did become a bit competitive, but, thankfully, did not rise to the level of a family “Monopoly Night” (you know what I am talking about). Within what felt like seconds, we struck a deal—but the terms were so nuanced that even the partners had to re-cap what we had agreed to.
In the end, I think both sides struck a good deal for their clients. Unlike litigation, both sides in a transaction can, and should, win and I think we have managed to do that so far.
It is safe to say that I have acquired new tastes at Bilzin Sumberg, both inside and outside of the office. A week and a half in, we had our first practice group event with the Corporate and Tax group: a culinary tour at Wynwood. At first, I was nervous about this event because I’m a picky-eater. We began the tour at Wynwood Kitchen & Bar where I indulged in delicious foods and La Rubia beer that I had never tasted before. As soon as I ate the maduros, a Spanish dish at the restaurant, I knew I had been missing out my entire life. There was still so much to try!
We then continued on the tour to admire the artwork on the Wynwood Walls. As I walked with the group, the first week and a half of work began to sink in. I remember starting the summer thinking that I would only truly enjoy Corporate assignments since I majored in business law. But luckily, I opened my mind up to trying new things. During the past nine days, I worked on assignments from the Corporate and Tax, Real Estate, and Litigation departments. Just as with the maduros, I expanded my taste palate and discovered a new possible specialty. I have already changed my schedule for the following semester of law school to include Real Estate courses.
I’m really excited to keep my mind open throughout the next seven weeks so that I can get a good taste of all that Bilzin Sumberg has to offer.
The first week at Bilzin Sumberg began with orientation and meet-and-greets, but in-between all of the events, we were secretly looking forward to our first assignments. The summer associate program has been amazing, and one of the best parts is how Jessica, Jenny, Marshall, and Jay structure our assignment distribution. Attorneys from each of the six main practice areas upload assignments to an online portal and each of us chooses which assignment we want to work on. The assignment requests include brief descriptions, estimated hours it may take to complete, and the names of attorneys who are working on the larger-scale case for which our assignment will be used.
On the second day of summer associate program, five assignments were uploaded online. We met in Brendan and Anthony’s office to discuss the details about each assignment posted. Two of the five assignments immediately appealed to two of the summers; Brendan was interested in real estate so an assignment involving local condos was a natural choice, and Camille wanted to explore corporate law. For the remaining three assignments, Jennifer, Anthony, and I each selected one and eagerly began working.
I selected an assignment relating to antitrust opt-out litigation techniques. My primary interest is litigation, but I had little experience with antitrust during my first two years of law school. I began conducting some preliminary research about the type of litigation and scheduled a meeting with the supervising attorney on my assignment, litigation partner, Scott Wagner. We met and discussed federal antitrust versus state antitrust laws, recent antitrust litigation that the firm has been involved in, and much more. Scott explained everything in such great detail, and was receptive to my questions and ideas for the assignment. I was sent off with a list of three broad research topics, and much more to learn.
I am definitely looking forward to gaining experience in each practice group during this summer!
After a full academic year of waiting to start at Bilzin Sumberg, the summer associate program has finally begun! For the next nine weeks, Jessica, Camille, Anthony, Brendan and I are trading in classrooms and lecture halls for offices and board rooms! As a group, the five of us emailed throughout the duration of the academic year, so we quickly became friends after meeting on the first day. Bilzin Sumberg welcomed us on May 26, 2015, and it has been jam packed with excitement ever since! Between orientation, meeting new people, choosing our first assignment and settling into our offices we have really hit the ground running!
We kicked off orientation with a warm welcome and immediately jumped into training. We met with partners Marshall Pasternack, Jay Sakalo and David Trench to learn about firm policies, while getting to enjoy the picturesque waterfront view from Bilzin Sumberg’s beautiful boardroom. We were introduced to new computer software and were given time to settle into our very own offices on the 24th floor.
The last two days of orientation have been busy, but of course, we have still found time for fun. On Wednesday night, the firm hosted a welcome wine and cheese reception in our honor. Our wonderful mentors introduced us by sharing interesting and silly facts about us, and we spent the duration of the evening getting to meet lots of new people. It was a great opportunity to talk with a variety of people, including many associates who also went through the summer associate program, and even many of the named partners. Despite being called the wine and cheese reception, there was actually so much more! We got to develop relationships while enjoying sushi, salad, chicken tenders, various appetizers and naturally, wine and cheese. Everyone made us feel very welcome. So far the summer is off to a fabulous start. I can’t wait for all of the assignments and social events that the next nine weeks will bring!
From Left to Right: Brendan Studley (University of Miami ’16), Jennifer Junger (George Washington University ’16), Anthony Sirven (University of Florida ’16), Camille Manso (New York University ’17) and Jessica Kramer (University of Florida ’16)
Five stellar summer associates joined us for the first day of the summer associate program yesterday. In just two days, they have been through orientation, had lunch with their mentors, attended six trainings and selected their first assignments! The next nine weeks are packed with training, social events and amazing opportunities for a memorable summer experience. Some of the highlights so far have been Marshall Pasternack’s welcome and Jay Sakalo’s presentation on the Business of Lawyering.
We are excited to welcome our 2015 summer associates! We hope that this summer provides you with real life examples of what it’s like to be a part of the Bilzin Sumberg team! To learn more about this year’s class, please visit the summer associate bios page.
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).