Founding attorney of San Rafael’s VGK Law wins North Bay Forty Under 40 award

Valerie Gerard Kushel


Founding Attorney


999 Fifth Ave., Suite 350, San Rafael 94901


Read other profiles of North Bay Business Journal’s 2021 Forty Under 40 Awards winners.

Responsibilities with your company: As the founding attorney at VGK Law, I provide compassionate legal advice to our clients in the areas of trusts and estates.

I take the complex law of estate planning and administration and make it accessible to my clients. I spend my days meeting with clients (these days via Zoom) to understand their goals for their families.

I translate these goals into legal documents that protect my clients in the event of incapacity and create their legacy after their death. My clients have peace of mind knowing that they have taken care of themselves and those that depend on them and love them.

How do you exemplify the spirit of being a top Forty under 40 professional?

In addition to building a law practice, I have built a community. I have been involved with the Marin County Bar Association, the Mill Valley Library Foundation and other local groups.

Years with company: 4

Length of time in current position: 4

Number of companywide employees: 3

Number who report to you: 2

Greatest professional accomplishment: I started my firm when my son was one and grew my firm while having a second child (currently 18 months old). Being a mother and a business owner is a huge source of pride.

Greatest professional challenge: My youngest child hated sleep. Running a law firm on almost no sleep was a personal and professional challenge!

Best advice received: Real change, enduring change, happens one step at a time.

Single most important event in your professional life in the last 12 months: I hired my first full-time employee.

What's the biggest change COVID-19, the restrictions and the economic impact has had on your work and personal life?

I have had to go from a mostly in-person practice to a mostly virtual practice. I miss seeing my clients in person.

And what’s the biggest lesson you’ve taken from that experience?

I have learned that some things are improved by an online format but nothing replaces an in-person meeting.

What steps is your company taking to sustain your organization and morale in the current economy?

We offer flexibility for employees dealing with illness or childcare issues.

Next professional goal: I want to continue to grow my firm in a way that supports my community.

Education: UC Berkeley B.A.; University of Southern California, J.D.; London School of Economics, LL.M.

Hometown: San Mateo

Community/nonprofit activities: Marin County Bar Association; Marin County Women Lawyers; Joy in the Law; Mill Valley Library Foundation; Southern Marin Mothers' Club, Member; Corte Madera Larkspur Mom's Club, member

Mentor/admired businessperson: Too many to count! Wanden Treanor is up there!

What is your most disliked industry buzzword? Unprecedented

Typical day at the office: I drop by son off at preschool, then start working and return emails. I'm usually in meetings from 10 am to 4 pm (with a lunch break).

In a business sense, what is the greatest thing about being under 40; and then what is the worst?

The greatest thing about being under 40 is that my clients know I plan to work for many more years. The worst thing about being under 40 is that youth can be mistaken for inexperience.

Best place to work outside of your office: My deck at home

Hobbies: Running around with my two young children.

What you wanted to be when you grew up: A lawyer.

No. 1 thing you want to accomplish by the time you turn 40: I want to grow my practice and have my children start at Neil Cummins Elementary school.

First job: Sales clerk at Old Navy

Social media you most use: Facebook

Favorite book: “Man's Search for Meaning”

Favorite movie: “Coming to America”

Favorite App: Instagram

Favorite after-work drink: A glass of wine

Last vacation: Lake Tahoe

What does your mom or dad brag most about you?

That I'm a lawyer!

Valerie Gerard Kushel


Founding Attorney


999 Fifth Ave., Suite 350, San Rafael 94901


Read other profiles of North Bay Business Journal’s 2021 Forty Under 40 Awards winners.

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