Celebrating the swearing in of our first year associates!
It’s only Tuesday, but it’s been an exciting week at Bilzin Sumberg. On Monday we were thrilled to welcome home the 2014 blogging summer associates – Leah Aaronson, Desiree Fernandez, Jerry Goldsmith, and Jared Spector. They’ve officially transitioned from summer associates to first year associates, had a full day of orientation, and settled into their offices.
As if that wasn’t enough, we celebrated their admission to the Florida Bar with their families. Today, we were lucky to have Chief Judge John W. Thornton, Jr. administer the Oath of Admission to our newest associates and the festivities continued with a group lunch at La Loggia. After all, it’s not a celebration without tiramisu!
Our first years are off to a great start!
The first year associates pose with The Honorable John W. Thornton, Jr.
The summer associates at their farewell ice cream social.
Last Friday was the last day of the summer program! We are thankful to our summer class for their commitment and effort. It is our hope that we honored our commitment to them: a real-world experience and constructive feedback. Along the way, we are confident they grew professionally and personally and developed strong relationships with our attorneys – and each other.
Thanks Jennifer, Jessica, Camille, Anthony & Brendan! It was a pleasure! On-campus interviewing is officially underway and we are excited to begin meeting next year’s bloggers.
Flashback to the first day of the summer program!
This week was by far the quickest, which says a lot considering how quickly nine weeks came and went as summer associates at Bilzin Sumberg. On Tuesday, we closed our summer-long Mock Real Estate deal with signatures and ceviche. Even after the exercise I think we’ll always question whether the other side really did get the better deal of the vacant-lot Brickell property. That night, the five summer associates went to our last group dinner where we declared unofficial superlatives ranging from “Most Likely to Be the Earliest to Every Event” to “Best Dressed” and importantly, “Cleanest Car.”
Later in the week, we participated in the Land Development and Governmental Relations practice group event at the Chapman Partnership. Armed with hairnets and aprons, we served dinner to the homeless for two hours. Notably at the front of the food line was Al Dotson, scooping mashed potatoes like a pro. The work we did was unannounced, but certainly appreciated. Walking out of the Chapman Partnership to “Thank You’s” made the event well worth it. We finished the night at Proof Pizza & Pasta where we enjoyed locally brewed beer and great food with the department. We also had the chance to talk about upcoming projects and cases some of the attorneys will be involved with.
Thursday night we were invited to Marshall’s home for a summers’ end dinner. We reminisced on the summer and shared stories from office trip-and-falls to our celebrity look-alikes. The last we left it, Jay was deciding between One Direction and N.W.A. for his personal favorite artist.
On our last day in the office, we finished up ongoing assignments and had our last days’ lunch together with our mentors. Reminiscing on the summer again was inevitable, but the stories we could (and did) share were endless. People we’ve known for such a short time have become mentors, and friends. The time the five of us spent together this summer has taught us so much, from balancing a workload to forging new relationships and more. Summer 2015 did more than manage our expectations, it exceeded them.
Playing “Heads Up” with First Tee participants during a rain delay.
Getting toward the end of the Summer Associate program, we are all amazed at how quickly our time here has gone by. In addition to the interesting assignments and fun social events, the Summer Associates had a great opportunity this week to spend some time with college-bound students at the First Tee golf event. The First Tee is an educational program, involving golf instruction, for young students to learn and develop strong traits. The firm came to know about this wonderful organization from Carlos Rodriguez at First American Title Insurance – a company that works frequently with our real estate attorneys.
We started our day off with a quick tour of the golf course and facilities. With the gracious donations of some sponsors, the organization has brand new buildings and golf equipment for the campers–it’s no surprise that the campers look forward to their summers there. Following the tour, we were introduced to the campers. They were excited to meet us and hear about what it’s like to work in the legal field and attend law school at the University of Miami School of Law. We also enjoyed learning about their educational experiences up to this point. Some campers are in the middle of their college search and asked for advice on how to narrow down their choices and find a school that is the right fit. Overall, it was rewarding to speak with these bright, young students and provide some insight on how we have approached our short-term and long-term goals.
Following our morning at the First Tee, the Summer Associates headed back to the office to tie up some loose ends on a few of our assignments. Follow our mid-summer reviews, the five of us have been able to narrow down our interests a bit and focus our work on certain practice areas. It was definitely beneficial to try an assignment in each practice group along the way to see what type of work would be a good fit for each of us.
Supporting Shalia Sakona as Mary Poppins.
It’s hard to believe that today is our last Monday of the summer. Marshall told us on the first day of the summer program that it would fly by, and he could not have been more correct. In just nine weeks I have learned so much, made incredible friends and already feel like I am a part of the Bilzin Sumberg family. We have had countless delicious lunches, fun happy hours and exciting social events. All of these activities made our summer in the magic city very special and helped us get to know the associates and partners so well. Two of my favorite events happened this weekend.
On Friday evening Mitch Widom took the litigation department to dinner and cocktails at Russo’s followed by opening night of Mary Poppins at the Susan Katz Theater. We went to see the show because our very own Shalia starred as Mary! Not only is Shalia a hardworking and awesome litigation associate, but she proved on stage how incredibly talented she is! I love that so many people in the department rallied together to show their support. We also felt like a VIP after the show when we got to take pictures on stage with Mary Poppins herself!
On Sunday, Marshall organized a delicious brunch — or shall I say feast — for the summer associates. We went to the beautiful Cecconi’s in South Beach. Brunch was a lavish buffet stocked with everything you could imagine. Some of the group favorites were the make your own omelet stand, oysters, cheeses, pastas, risottos, and of course the decadent desserts. After lots of laughs, memories made and 2-4 plates each, it was safe to say we were all so full we could roll home!
This weekend was a wonderful beginning to the end, and a solid reminder of what makes Bilzin Sumberg such an exceptional place to work!
Following some of the great times we have had getting to know one another at social events like the Poker Tournament, we have also been gaining valuable work experience in all of Bilzin Sumberg’s different practice areas. This week, we focused on Real Estate Transactions, as the Summer Associates participated in the next two phases of our Mock Real Estate Transaction. With a combination of hands-on learning and a few helpful presentations from Marshall Pasternack, Adam Lustig, and Phillip Sosnow, our respective real estate teams negotiated the next phases of a multi-million dollar transaction. After some bargaining, we struck a solid deal regarding the terms of our Purchase and Sale Agreement, and worked together to implement the changes into the contract. Thankfully, during our negotiations, our team leaders stuck by our sides to make sure we didn’t stray too far from typical business practices.
Toward that end, the guidance we have received at Bilzin Sumberg has been one of my favorite parts of working at this law firm. Our mentors have been here for us every step of the way, whether we have needed pointers on our assignments or more general feedback and advice. To further strengthen that learning experience, we all had our Mid-Summer reviews recently. Although we were a bit nervous to see how our reviews would go, it was a great check-in during which we could share our experiences thus far and discuss our completed assignments. The reviews also provided us with the opportunity to begin to narrow down our interests to certain practice areas and take more assignments from them. It is hard to believe that we are officially halfway through the summer program, but I am excited to see what the next week brings!
Last week, the summer associates along with Jessica, Craig, Marty, and Alan traveled to Miami’s Design District. On the ride over, Marty explained Bilzin Sumberg’s role in the project. In representing the Miami Design District Associates, LLC, Bilzin Sumberg helped secure loans to finance the acquisition and construction of 40 buildings in the area. When we arrived at the Design District, our group was greeted by Dacra’s Chief Operating Officer Steven Gretenstein. He explained the development of the Design District including how the company secured luxury brands to open new stores and reached out to many reknown artists who participated in redesigning the area’s buildings and garages.
With Steven as our guide, we walked through the Design District and the paper layouts of the area came to life. Steven frequently stopped to explain the designs of certain buildings, location preferences of the fashion luxury brands, and progress of construction phases. One highlight was when Steven walked us into the Louis Vuitton store to show us the store’s three-story design and arrangement of the merchandise. Other nearby stores had rooftop gardens and building features designed by foreign artists. Overall, the tour was amazing (not to mention the final stop at MC Kitchen). It was incredible to watch as Bilzin Sumberg’s attorney’s could point to a specific block or building and recall the loan that was secured for it or their legal involvement in the project. As a Miami native, it was nice to finally learn the history behind buildings I drive by everyday!
Last week Jessica, Camille and I had the opportunity to socialize with all the women attorneys at Bilzin Sumberg for a “Canvas & Cocktails” Painting Event at Vinos in the Grove. It was a wonderful night full of laughter, mingling, painting and wine!
We all started off with a blank canvas. We were given the freedom to choose between different models to emulate, and then the painting process began. The experience somewhat mirrors our summer thus far at Bilzin Sumberg. We all started off the summer with a blank canvas and have since been given the freedom to choose the assignments we want to work on. With the early brush strokes I was worried I might make a mistake, but as I painted more and started to see the full picture I became more confident in my art work. Similarly, throughout the summer and with each completed assignment we have become continuously more at ease and confident in our legal abilities.
Mindy Mora impressed us all with her artistic skills! What a combination, a well respected attorney and a wonderful painter! We each utilized different styles to let our painting prowess shine. Jessica Buchsbaum and Camille paid close attention to each brush stroke, while Ali Lehson and I took more of a plan as you paint full picture approach.
The evening went by so quickly because we were all having a great time socializing and perfecting our art! It was really inspiring to be around such a fabulous group of impressive female attorneys! Though I had a memorable time, and now have some new office décor, I still think it’s safe to say that I am not quitting my day job!
We are now more than half-way through the summer, and we have no time to spare. All of our lunches are scheduled, we are winding up our assignments, and we are holding on to our desks for dear life. After spending time in the legal field practicing what I learned during my first year of law school and more, I do not want to leave.
This week’s event was reason enough to stay. On Tuesday night, we went bowling with the Business Finance and Restructuring practice group at Splitsville. Initially, I was hesitant to pick a lane because it was clear that some people in the group had superior bowling skills. I decided to join Scott Baena‘s lane, as we named it, since it included the non-professional bowlers. For those following my blog posts, I must admit that my bowling skills are not much better than my poker skills. It should also not come as a surprise when I say that Jay Sakalo scored the most points, with a swing that could knock over his house of poker chips. Though our lane earned less points, we all spent the entire night laughing. Most of all, it was extremely refreshing to spend time with the members of the Bilzin Sumberg family outside of the office.
The summer is quickly coming to a close, but we still have a few events planned. I am excited to strike up even more genuine relationships and unforgettable conversations in the remaining two weeks.
We went to Virginia Key Beach in Key Biscayne to volunteer with Citizens for a Better South Florida at the Virginia Key Restoration Project, which began after Hurricane Andrew had damaged the landscape back in 1992. To help with the project’s goal of removing and replacing invasive exotic plant species throughout the 15-acre hammock, we took on planting and digging duties. I was in charge of mixing soil to create “compost,” an environmentally-friendly fertilizer that significantly reduces plant greenhouse gas emissions, and then taking it to the others for their plants. Breaking a sweat with my fellow summer associates for a good cause, and doing so while overlooking Key Biscayne’s shoreline, allowed us to bond and appreciate how lucky we are to work in such a beautiful city, and to be in a position to give back. Even though I am from Miami, its beauty never grows old for me!
After a hard day’s work, we were treated to Shorty’s Barbeque. For anyone who has not been to a Shorty’s before, there are few places in town that grill tastier ribs–take it from “Chef Tony!” During the delicious lunch we talked about how much fun we have had so far and how quickly the summer is going by. It feels like only yesterday that Marshall welcomed us to the Summer Associate Program and warned that this summer would flash by in an instant. Looking back, Marshall was absolutely right. We have now completed about 50% of the summer program and have had the opportunity to work on headline-grabbing cases, make new and lasting relationships, and eat at some of the most delicious restaurants in Miami (particularly at Edge, a firm favorite). I am excited about what the second half of the summer will bring, but am hoping to figure out a way to make the time go by just a bit more slowly since–and I know I can speak on behalf of the entire summer class–we are truly enjoying our summer journey together.