BY PAM HOUGHTON
PHOTOGRAPHY BY JERRY ZOLYNSKY
VICTORIA VALENTINE’S INTEREST IN THE LAW STARTED EARLY, thanks to her father and grandfather who were both lawyers. “As far back as I can remember, (practicing law) is what I always wanted to do.”
The chatter around the dinner table when she was growing up often included the many ways her father’s work helped others. “I really loved hearing how he made someone else’s life easier,” she says of her dad, who practiced “all types of law.”
Valentine followed suit and today practices “all types of law,” with a concentration on business contracts and litigation as a partner in her father’s West Bloomfield firm, Valentine & Associates P.C.
It is a career that is both satisfying and all consuming. “A typical work day never ends,” she says. Which means she’s always looking for ways to strengthen a case, whether it’s through reviewing pre-trial dis- covery evidence or filing a motion on behalf of a client.
“I’ve sent emails at 2, 3, 4:00 in the morning,” she chuckles; it’s not uncommon, either, for her to wake at night with some insight that helps her case. “I don’t like free time. I like to be busy. I am a ‘build a better mouse trap person,’ but not (just for or by) myself.” She also spends time in the community, often through volunteer work, including her role as president-elect of the Oakland County Bar Association.
Still, she says, “My schedule is mine. If I decide I want to do this task or that task,” such as picking up one of her three children from school, she can. “But my work is always there and I’m always responsible for it.”
Though she loves all aspects of the law, “Pro bono work is the most rewarding,” she says, especially “helping someone who can’t afford to help himself.” Early in her career, she represented a client without the “financial wherewithal” to pay for legal services in a religious discrimination case. The case ended up in federal court. “If I could do everything pro bono, I would.” Though the real world where bills must be paid makes that unlikely, she enjoys opportunities to use her legal talent “for nothing in return” to do good.
Valentine spent evenings campaigning for a seat in Oakland County’s circuit court this year, an experience she found gratifying. “When you are running for judge, you get invited into people’s circles … their temples, mosques and churches … where their guard is down.” In those moments, she sensed they were also looking for clues to see if she would be “fair, even-keeled and balanced” on the bench.
Her reputation for helping others in the community made her a natural candidate; she received endorsements from both the Democratic and Republican parties of Oakland County, L. Brooks Patterson, the UAW, the mayors of Rochester, Southfield and Troy and other prominent names and organizations.
When Valentine isn’t working, she spends time with her three children, ages 12, 10 and 9, and her husband of 22 years. “I’m the mom at the restaurant on Saturday with my kids,” she says. “We take them everywhere. Some people have date nights or time away from their families but because I’m so invested in helping others, my free time is always with my kids. To me, (12, 10 and 9) are the best ages. I love hearing (my kids’) perspectives on things. I love telling them about my day and I love hearing about theirs.”
She spends time shaping their characters by repeating a motto: “Share and you’ll have more.” And she imparts another core value by reminding her children that though they are important, everyone else is, too. “I want them to value everybody,” she says. “I don’t want them to walk away from anyone, thinking, ‘I’m better than you.’” NS