LEGAL PROFILE: Valerie Brodsky White

by | Jul 10, 2020 | Other News

Firm: Retired from private law practice; “In-House Counsel” for Matval Enterprises, LLC, our real estate investment business that I set up with my husband, Matthew.
Specialty: Practiced Immigration Law for 17 years; then worked part-time in Real Estate Law in our family firm for 8 years.
Education: Bachelor of Business Administration and J.D. from The College of William and Mary.
Family: Matthew White (husband); Sara (27)
and Rachel (23); and a 5 lb. tiny toy poodle named Oreo

Jewish Organizations: I have been on the board of the Holocaust Commission for years and years serving in a variety of roles including chair of Book Club for 8 years, co-chair of Yom Hashoah, and co-chair of the What We Carry education program. I also served on the board of Temple Israel for several years including as vice president of fundraising. And way back in the day, I was on the board of Jewish Family Service and was happy to give some immigration guidance to Russian Jewish families.

Favorite Jewish Holiday: I always host Break the Fast on Yom Kippur and the Passover Seder so those are my favorites. I love putting together a beautiful table—pulling out all the fine china and special linens—and just the whole process. Having the family together cooking, preparing, and all that craziness is wonderful! We did a Skype Passover this year with just the “kids” home with us, and my parents online. Next year…My Dining Room (or Jerusalem, your choice)!

Most Memorable Personal Jewish Milestone/Life Cycle Event: Marrying Matthew White at Temple Israel in 2003 under the Chuppah in a traditional Jewish ceremony. It was such a family celebration and I was so proud to join the TI community where my father-in-law, Samuel I. White (of blessed memory), was a past president. Unbeknownst to us at that time, my step-father, Jonathan Longman, would also serve as president of Temple Israel (2017–2020) with my mother, Linda Longman, right by his side (I call her the shadow president!). And to have both of my girls celebrate their Bat Mitzvahs in that same sanctuary was also very special.

Most admired Jewish lawmaker: Without question, Ruth Bader Ginsburg! No explanation required. I pray for her good health every day.

What trends are you noticing in your field of expertise?
Both of my areas of practice, immigration law and real estate law, are facing serious challenges. I am still friendly with my old partners from my immigration practice days and it is difficult for them right now. The barriers to immigrants have always been immense—and not always logical—but now it is downright hostile. As for real estate law, I am personally focused on landlord-tenant and the political landscape in that arena has shifted with moratoriums on evictions and many new tenant rights coming into law. Sadly, the law of unintended consequences seems to be rearing its head as the inventory of single family rentals is so low in some areas (due to the inability to evict and Coronavirus), that rental rates have gone up for the units that are available. Many landlords are instituting much stricter rental criteria and are unwilling to take a risk on a borderline tenant. I have used my time in lockdown to participate in online continuing legal education and Meet-ups on real estate and landlord-tenant issues, locally and nationally, as it is so important to ensure legal compliance and to understand the marketplace.

How has your understanding and/or commitment to Jewish values entered into your decisions or actions as an attorney?
My father, Sidney Jacobson, was also an attorney and a CPA and he emphasized throughout my life the importance of integrity in all that you do. I followed his lead and was always responsive, direct, and forthright with my clients, and I am the same with my tenants. Respond to questions, concerns, and complaints immediately. Even if you don’t have the answer, respond; even if they won’t like your answer, respond. People will forgive almost anything except being ignored. When I built my immigration practice, people asked me, how did you do it? Simple, I answered my phone and did the work on my desk. It really is that simple, respond to people, do what you promise, and be fair.