Highlights Bilzin Sumberg Baena Price & Axelrod LLP
If a matter takes place in Miami and involves real estate, litigation or transactional work, there's also a strong chance it involves attorneys from Bilzin Sumberg Baena Price & Axelrod LLP. A full-service commercial firm, Bilzin Sumberg is best known for its real estate, bankruptcy and corporate work areas, which have grabbed numerous headlines in recent years. In August 2007, for example, the firm announced the formation of a distressed property group, which focuses on some of the biggest issues common to these areas. Among other services, the firm advises investors, developers and real estate funds regarding the acquisition, development and disposition of distressed properties.
Many of Bilzin Sumberg's largest recent transactions involve the firm's bread and butter, middle market businesses and real estate-related companies. Last year, Bilzin Sumberg represented one of the world's largest leveraged buyout funds, Apollo Management, L.P., in a multibillion dollar acquisition of global specialty retailer Claire's Stores, Inc., valued at approximately $3.1 billion. At the beginning of 2008, the firm represented one of the nation's largest homebuilders, in a major strategic land investment venture with Morgan Stanley, which garnered national attention on the front page of the Wall Street Journal and serves as a prototype for homebuilder divestures through joint ventures. The firm also represented developer Robert Wennett in the redevelopment and financing of 1111 Lincoln Road in Miami Beach, a mixed-use office/retail complex, which includes a mixed-use parking garage designed by world-renowned architects Herzog & DeMeuron, whose work most recently includes the "Bird's Nest" Beijing National Stadium for the 2008 Summer Olympics and the de Young Museum in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park.
The firm also counts as representative clients such blue chips as All American Semiconductor, Kislak National Bank, Fortune International, Inc., Goodwill Industries and the University of Miami.
Most associates agree that it takes an impressive candidate to get the nod at Bilzin Sumberg. As with many other larger firms, Bilzin Sumberg looks at academic and professional achievement. One associate also emphasizes that a candidate needs to "complement the collegial environment we value so highly." According to Bilzin's web site, the firm hunts for "candidates looking to realize their full potential and begin or further develop their careers in a challenging, stimulating environment." Who else should apply? Those seeking a work/life balance and "people who are capable of meeting their professional goals while contributing to their families and their community."
OUR SURVEY SAYS
First and foremost, Bilzin Sumberg's associates appreciate the firm's professional yet friendly culture. As one lawyer says, "There is a healthy informality and not a lot of emphasis on rank ... team players are valued, and we cooperate well between departments." An environmental law associate adds, "The firm has a great atmosphere. Many of the lawyers socialize outside of the office?particularly the younger associates."
But just because everyone gets along doesn't mean you won't know who's boss. One lawyer explains, "Management is top-down by an executive committee," adding "There is a committee of associates that gives feedback, and they are represented on other operating committees."
As for formal training, associates give Bilzin Sumberg high marks for its efforts. One corporate associate says, "There has been a strong effort to provide training materials and advice for lower-level associates still learning about their practice." Informal training requires more time and effort on your part, with the same associate noting, "The mentor relationship is somewhat forced and personalities are not always in synch; however, once you establish relationships with other associates and partners, you find you can go to multiple people with questions?not only your assigned mentor."
When it comes to clocking time, associates aren't bent out of shape. There are "long hours," we're told, "but not unexpected in a large firm." And it certainly helps that no one really complains about compensation, which is "competitive for the Miami market," according to one corporate associate.