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Our Commitment To

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

  • Overview
  • Four Pillars
  • Street Law Partnership
  • Year Up Partnership
  • Law Firm Antiracism Alliance
  • Related News

At Bilzin Sumberg, we understand that a diverse workforce improves our ability to serve the needs of our clients while creating a more dynamic firm culture. We continually strive to foster an inclusive environment where everyone can thrive and contribute to all aspects of firm life.

Our commitment to diversity is reflected in our multifaceted mission, which seeks to:

  • Create a more collaborative culture that nurtures the creativity and innovation required to solve our clients' most challenging legal issues
  • Provide an inclusive environment where people of all backgrounds can thrive, an environment where all people, including and especially historically underprivileged, are empowered to succeed and excel
  • Facilitate necessary institutional changes through strategic partnerships with various organizations to create environments that foster success and raise awareness to recognize and respect individual differences
  • Ensure historically underprivileged attorneys have opportunities to network within the firm, the profession and the business community - providing them access to strong ally, mentor, and sponsorship opportunities

Four Pillars

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Strategic Partnerships

To collaborate with clients and other organizations committed to advancing diversity and inclusion in the legal, professional, and business communities.

Recruiting & Diversity Pipeline

To participate in recruiting events and pipeline initiatives designed to enhance diversity within the legal profession.

Professional Development & Inclusive Workplace

To offer training and experiential opportunities through our business and professional networks.

Commitment to Social Justice

To promote and participate in community initiatives with the goal of promoting social justice in our country.

Press Release | June 20, 2023

Sara Barli Herald Shortlisted for Chambers Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year

Bilzin Sumberg is pleased to announce that Real Estate Partner Sara Barli Herald was selected as a finalist for Chambers Diversity & Inclusion’s Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year award. The highly competitive award recognizes a U.S. attorney who demonstrates an extraordinary degree of dedication to pro bono work locally or globally.

Bilzin Sumberg is proud to announce its membership as part of the Diversity & Flexibility Alliance (DFA). The DFA is a national organization that partners with law firms, associations, and corporations to foster inclusive corporate cultures. The firm’s membership in the DFA reinforces its long-standing commitment to integrating diversity and inclusivity across its operations. In 2022, the DFA recognized Bilzin Sumberg as one of only 57 major law firms out of over 200 nationally that saw over half of the firm’s 2022 attorney promotions to partner go to women.
Diversity & Flexibility Alliance 2023 Leader logo

Press Release | December 8, 2022

Albert Dotson, Jr. and Javier Aviñó Named Law Firm Leaders by Lawyers of Color

Bilzin Sumberg congratulates Albert E. Dotson, Jr., Managing Partner, and Javier F. Aviñó, Practice Group Leader for Land Development & Government Relations, on being recognized as “Law Firm Leaders” by Lawyers of Color

Photo of Albert E. Dotson, Jr and Javier Avino

Press Release | October 18, 2022

Bilzin Sumberg Announces Winners of Third Annual Matters of the Heart Pro Bono Awards

On October 13, 2022, Bilzin Sumberg continued its long-standing tradition of putting community service at the center of firm culture by hosting its third annual Matters of the Heart Pro Bono Awards. The Awards recognized attorneys whose pro bono work touched the lives of individuals in need of legal services and whose representation assisted organizations that have an impact on the wider community. 

People in the photo from left to right: Nicolas Noto, Javier Aviño, Tina Brown (CEO of Overtown Youth Center), Albert E. Dotson Jr., Sara Herald, and Alonzo Mourning. The group were the winners of the One-To-Many award for their work with the Overtown Youth Center.

Pro Bono Awards

Juneteenth Panel Examines Issues of Equity and Social Justice

June 24, 2022 – In celebration of the national Juneteenth holiday, Bilzin Sumberg invited two accomplished black leaders to share their insights on timely issues related to equity and social justice, while also sharing their personal journeys and experiences with discrimination and bias. With the discussion moderated by Partner Sara Barli Herald, T. Willard Fair, President and CEO of the Urban League of Greater Miami, and Topeka K. Sam, Founder and Executive Director of Ladies Of Hope Ministries, offered thought-provoking ideas about constructively dealing with the challenges faced by marginalized communities.

Both panelists described the personal circumstances that led to their current leadership of inspiring organizations to work for positive change. Fair’s journey began with his move to Miami in the 1960s to work with other community members to revitalize the historically black Overtown neighborhood and improve the lives of its residents. For Sam, the impetus for her mission to lift up others was her personal experience of incarceration, where she came face-to-face with victims of social injustice, trauma, and deprivation. Both Fair and Sam focused much of their discussion on the need to eliminate seemingly innocuous practices that often lead to unintended discriminatory consequences, such as the widespread employment practice of asking job applicants to disclose jail time or criminal convictions, which are neither relevant for employability, and tend to foster unconscious bias.

Both panelists recognized the key role of safe and accessible housing in lifting marginalized minorities out of poverty, a central service that both of their organizations provide and also stressed that housing initiatives targeted towards the vulnerable must also integrate incentives programs that encourage tenants to seek gainful employment and obviates their need for such living assistance. In closing the discussion, Fair and Sam highlighted that while racial diversity in professional settings was important, it was just as critical that companies seek diversity of experience, specifically seeking to integrate individuals with a history of adversity into their professional families.

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Bilzin Sumberg Convenes Panel of Inspiring Women Leaders 

April 5, 2022 - In honor of Women’s History Month, Bilzin Sumberg invited a set of accomplished local leaders from the public and private sectors to discuss the continuing challenges that women face in advancing professionally and what they see as the way forward for greater gender equity in management roles and organizational leadership. The panel was moderated by Jane Wooldridge, Senior Director for Journalism Sustainability and Partnerships at the Miami Herald, and consisted of Arden Karson, Managing Principal of Karson & Co, Judge Mindy A. Mora of the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District Of Florida, and Crystal Wagar, Miami Shores Councilperson and Partner at LSN Partners, LLC. Following opening remarks, the panel delved into a range of issues facing the professional advancement of women and gender equity in the workplace. 
While the panelists shared diverse experiences and perspectives, they all stressed the important role of mentors and sponsors as resources for ambitious female professionals, in particular the practice of having a “Board of Directors for You” in which young professionals maintain close personal connections with a handful of seasoned role models whom they can regularly approach for career advice and direction. Some of the panelists noted that community service and involvement in professional associations, such as the Florida Bar, constituted excellent opportunities for developing leadership skills and forming links with prospective mentors. Despite the long strides women had made in professional gender equity, with the strong support of male colleagues, all the panelists agreed that women needed to continue to be persistent and aggressive in advocating for themselves when disparities and shortcomings become apparent, whether the goal was striving for equal pay, achieving accommodating arrangements for working parents, or instituting a firm culture that is more embracing of equity and inclusivity.
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Bilzin Sumberg Marks Black History Month with a Virtual Presentation on “The Groveland Four” 

February 22, 2022 - In honor of Black History Month, Bilzin Sumberg invited Bill Gladson, State Attorney for the Fifth Judicial Circuit, and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Gilbert King to discuss an episode of racial injustice involving four young Black men in mid-20th century Florida, known as “The Groveland Four.” King is the author of an acclaimed book on The Groveland Four, and Gladson was instrumental in recently having the indictments of the four young men tossed out and the sentences and judgments imposed on the accused set aside. King and Gladson detailed the harrowing series of events and failures of the criminal justice system following an allegation of rape and assault, “an abomination of justice” as King described the unfolding saga. Both presenters spoke of the challenging work that each undertook to uncover facts surrounding the case and new evidence, which ultimately culminated in the accused’s exonerations. 

In addition to informing participants on an oft-forgotten chapter of Florida’s race relations history, the presentation reinforced the importance of due process and prosecutorial integrity as key pillars of equity and justice. Gladson remarked that the same serious failure of justice that occurred would be inconceivable today given the laws, prosecutorial procedures, and standards of transparency that operate as protections for the accused, which did not exist at the time of The Groveland Four’s events. Both King and Gladson agreed that the exonerations and renewed historical clarity surrounding the events, as late as they may have come, were of paramount importance because of the confidence such corrections instilled among citizens in the justice system. Highly appreciated by those who attended for its thought-provoking content, the presentation formed part of Bilzin Sumberg’s wider year-round programming aimed at elevating the firm’s consciousness surrounding issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Bilzin Sumberg Marks National Hispanic Heritage Month with a Virtual Conversation with Albert Milo, Jr.

October 18, 2021 - In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month, Bilzin Sumberg invited Albert Milo, Jr., President of Related Urban Development Group, to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing Hispanic-Americans and his own personal journey as a Hispanic-American. The event was introduced by pointing out that while the discussion with Mr. Milo was organized as part of National Hispanic Heritage Month, it nonetheless formed part of Bilzin Sumberg’s wider year-round programming aimed at elevating the firm’s consciousness surrounding issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion, and mentioned that the audience should expect more thought-provoking discussions in the near future.

The event took the format of a live Q&A discussion between Javier Aviñó, the Practice Group Leader of Bilzin Sumberg's Government Relations and Land Development Group, and Albert Milo, Jr. A local Miamian with a decades-long career in South Florida’s real estate industry, Mr. Milo was well-placed to comment on the current status of the local and national Hispanic community, and lingering challenges to be addressed for both. He also spoke extensively about the positive developments Related Urban Development Group had brought to local communities, Hispanic and non-Hispanic, through their transformative affordable housing projects.

“Anybody can build a building, but not everyone can rebuild a community,” remarked Milo, “Our inclusive approach addresses the existing community’s needs as part of new development.”

"One of Bilzin Sumberg’s core values is to stand firm, clear, and unambiguous in our commitment to equal treatment of all members of our society and our firm. Now, more than ever, we reiterate our commitment and join in raising our voices in outrage fueled by our desire to work together to create a community, social institutions and a country that is immune to racism. To all our Black and Brown colleagues, friends, co-workers, and neighbors: we see you, we hear you, we stand with you." - John C. Sumberg, Chairman and Founding Partner
Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee Chair

Bilzin Sumberg, Greenberg Traurig, and Holland & Knight Come Together for a Discussion on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion with The Honorable William Thomas

On February 8, 2021, Bilzin Sumberg's Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee hosted a virtual discussion with The Honorable Williams Thomas on diversity, equity, and inclusion within the legal profession. The event was held in conjunction with local commercial law firms Greenberg Traurig and Holland & Knight, with attorneys and staff from all three firms in attendance. A widely respected Circuit Court Judge on the Eleventh Judicial Circuit of Florida, Judge Thomas was invited to speak as part of Bilzin Sumberg's collaboration with Greenberg Traurig and Holland & Knight on raising the consciousness of diversity, equity, and inclusion among Miami's legal professionals during Black History Month.

The program opened with remarks from Kelly-Ann Cartwright, the Directors Committee Chair of Holland & Knight, highlighting the achievements of Judge Thomas, including his work as an Assistant Public Defender and an Assistant Federal Public Defender for Miami-Dade County and the Southern District of Florida respectively, before being elected to the Circuit Court for the Eleventh Judicial Circuit for Miami-Dade County, where he has served for the past 18 years.

Judge Thomas focused his talk on the historical context within which today's racial discontent and strained race relations have developed. He discussed the economic and social policies at the state and federal levels that have disadvantage African Americans, as well as how willful and systemic bias has created a relentless cycle of high poverty, low education, and lack of opportunity for the African American community, which has developed into racial tension and social disharmony in our society.

During the Q&A session moderated by Albert E. Dotson, Jr., Managing Partner of Bilzin Sumberg, Judge Thomas talked about the way forward for achieving greater diversity, equity, and inclusion in the legal profession. He opined that the two greatest challenges to effectuating change in the legal community when it came to diversity and inclusion was the lack of resources aimed at young people from underrepresented communities to learn about the practice of law as a career, and the lack of mentorship opportunities for professionals from these communities once they had started practicing law. Educating young people about the rewarding prospects of the field of law prior to college, and then providing them with valuable mentors in the profession to build their technical expertise and business development skills, were crucial for strengthening the diversity, equity, and inclusion of the professional pipeline. Judge Thomas also emphasized the importance of candid and open discussions about race and other forms of diversity in professional settings because of their ability to galvanize change, and warned that treating uncomfortable issues with silence would only perpetuate inequity and misunderstanding.

Jaret L. Davis, Co-Managing Shareholder of Greenberg Traurig's Miami office, closed the discussion by thanking Judge Thomas for his valuable insight, and reminded attendees that the event served as a form of calibration, allowing them to reassess how best they can enhance meritocracy in the legal profession going forward.

 Our Street Law Partnership

Bilzin Sumberg works closely with the National Association for Law Placement (NALP) through their Street Law Legal Diversity Pipeline Program. Street Law introduces students from underrepresented communities to the legal profession by connecting them to practitioners from law firms. Bilzin Sumberg employees volunteer with the program to educate such students about the practice of law and cultivate interest in the field, thereby strengthening the diversity of the legal profession's recruitment pipeline.

The firm's volunteers participate in every aspect of the program, which includes teaching lessons in substantive areas of law, introducing students to the many professional roles that support a law firm, and growing awareness of how the law impacts ordinary people in their daily lives.

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"[W]e felt there was a piece lacking in the diversity puzzle. The only way we would truly move the needle forward was for the profession to attract a larger number of historically underprivileged professionals to consider entering it." - Jessica Buchsbaum, Chief Legal Talent Officer

 Year Up South Florida

Bilzin Sumberg proudly partners with Year Up South Florida, a non-profit workforce development program for motivated and talented young adults, to take on interns from diverse backgrounds from the South Florida community. Through this partnership, Bilzin Sumberg provides interns with enriching professional development that serves as the foundation for their future careers in law. The internships are full-time, paid opportunities in which participants can also earn college credit. Bilzin Sumberg's work with Year Up South Florida demonstrates the firm's commitment to growing extraordinary talent among the diverse communities that make up the fabric of South Florida.

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“At Bilzin Sumberg, we strongly encourage our attorneys and staff to volunteer their time and effort to worthwhile causes that advance diversity and inclusion, whether in the legal profession or elsewhere. We can only expect things to change for the better when we demand such change through our actions. I recently served as the Regional Co-Chair of the American Bar Association Section of Litigation’s Judicial Intern Opportunity Program (JIOP) in Miami, where I oversaw the placement of diverse and under-represented law students with state and federal judges in South Florida. It was an extraordinarily empowering experience to be able to assist young talent from such diverse backgrounds to achieve their full potential.” - - Adrian Felix, Partner and immediate past Co-Chair of the ABA Section of Litigation's Judicial Intern Opportunity Program (Miami)

Bilzin Sumberg celebrates National Hispanic Heritage Month: A Conversation with Jose Gonzalez

October 12, 2020 - In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month, Bilzin Sumberg dedicated its first event as part of its Diversity and Inclusion Lunch Series to discussing the challenges and opportunities facing Hispanic-Americans. Al Dotson, the firm's Managing Partner, introduced the event by highlighting the importance of the Hispanic community's contribution to American society while noting Bilzin Sumberg's proud record of operationalizing diversity and inclusion within the firm and promoting it in the community.

The event took the format of a live Q&A discussion between Javier Aviñó, the Practice Group Leader of Bilzin Sumberg's Government Relations and Land Development Group, and Jose Gonzalez, the Senior Vice President of Corporate Development at All Aboard Florida, a high-speed intercity passenger rail project being developed by Florida East Coast Industries (FECI) to connect Miami, Southeast Florida, and the Orlando area. Mr. Gonzalez's decades of experience in both Miami-Dade County Government and the private infrastructure sector in South Florida allowed him to give special insight on the Hispanic community in the region.

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