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Advice to my younger self
Miami partner Steven Vainder offers advice to aspiring future lawyers

Steven Vainder is a partner in our Miami office, a member of the Core Team of the White & Case global real estate industry group, and the graduate recruitment hiring partner for our Miami office. Here he reflects on his career with the Firm and what he wishes his younger self had known.

Being part of a close-knit team is important
The office in Miami has grown from 20 to 90 lawyers since I started here in 1995. Staff turnover is low – after all, this is a wonderful place to live as well as to do great work for our clients – so there's great trust and respect between us all. It's been very fulfilling to be part of a team that has expanded so successfully and become a hub for Latin American and restructuring work, to give just two examples of our strengths here.

Put your hand up
As a junior associate, I volunteered to join busy teams working in other offices when there was a particularly pressing deal or deadline. This gave me exposure to our antitrust and restructuring teams. Working in a different practice gives a valuable new perspective on how to approach a matter, manage deadlines or deal with a client. As a Firm, we have diverse practices that flourish at different points in the economic cycle, so there is always an area that is expanding.

International experience matters
Although my practice is US-specific, I regret not having sought out the opportunity to work for a time in one of White & Case's network of offices around the world. However, being part of a firm with a global footprint, and truly working as "One Firm" means that I do feel strongly connected to my colleagues and clients around the world. Also, Miami is an incredibly international city. I relish connecting with people from different cultural backgrounds and nationalities. 

Overcoming challenges is a truly valuable experience
When the 2007 – 2008 financial crash happened, the real estate market collapsed and our transactional work dried up. I had to be adaptable and expand my practice into new areas. My fellow partners were a great support to me, and it ended up being a very exciting and collegial time of personal and professional growth. Looking back, I see that it made me more confident and willing to move outside the box.

Ask your team to tell you how to get the best from them
When I was a junior associate, showing up to work on Saturday morning was just expected. Our priority is always going to be delivering the best for our clients, but associates now have different expectations around balancing family life or time away from the office. As long as the work is done, and the needs of our clients met, we can always find ways to be more flexible.

Mentors can really make a difference
I've been lucky enough to benefit from some great mentors during my career. As well as being a valuable sounding board and guide, they have also shared their expert technical and legal skills. I think of their advice every time I negotiate a contract, prepare a letter to a client or write an opinion, and I try to lead by example. 

Miami will change a great deal and you'll play a part in this
Although I grew up in New York, I have spent my professional career in Miami. In that time, the city has flourished and grown tremendously. It's good to look at the changing skyline and know that I've played a small part in this growth. And as someone who loves boating and fishing, I'll never get tired of 12 months of sunshine a year.

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