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Faith, Law and Giving Back in Dallas

The Jewish community in Dallas has always been a big part of Brad Foxman’s life. His father is a lawyer, working on business transactions and probate matters for a small firm, and an active participant in local Jewish non-profits. Growing up, Brad went to Jewish Community Center (JCC) camps, participated in the B’Nai Brith youth organization and joined a group of Jewish teens from Dallas on a six-week life-defining trip to Israel. Support for all of these activities came from a venerable institution in local civic and religious life: the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas. Now, as an accomplished restructuring lawyer at V&E, Brad recently received the Federation’s Cardozo Society “Young Lawyer of the Year” award. When V&E+ recently caught up with Brad, he and his wife had just signed up their kids — aged six and three — at the JCC camp for the summer, a third generation connecting with the Dallas Jewish community.

Tell us about your involvement with the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas

I was always involved through family and growing up in the Dallas Jewish community. I graduated law school in 2008, and within six months of joining V&E, I had started attending events at the Jewish Federation. The Cardozo Society is a subset of the Federation composed of Jewish legal leaders in Dallas, and in 2010, they awarded me “Outstanding Attorney under 40.” After that, they asked me to join the leadership of the Cardozo Society, which involved financial support and then helping organize events and solicit other donors. The Cardozo Society is really an active networking and fundraising arm of the Federation.

So the Federation is a kind of clearinghouse for donations to causes in Dallas?

Yes, the Federation raised $11 million last year. That money is allocated locally, nationally and internationally, to specific Jewish organizations like the Anti-Defamation League, but also non-Jewish charities. A big recipient is the Jewish Family Service, which is a non-sectarian mental health and social services agency serving populations in Dallas. One of my favorite organizations that gets funding from the Federation is Vogel Alcove, which works on behalf of homeless children in Dallas. In addition to providing them with desperately needed resources, they do things like give every child a home address, which actually is a formality required to attend school and do many other things. So that’s an organization that is doing very important, practical work at the ground level in Dallas.

How did you decide to become a lawyer?

I received a B.B.A. from the University of Michigan for undergrad, and when I graduated I knew I didn’t want to be an investment banker. So, I guess like many others, I ended up going to law school, but knowing from the start I’d focus on corporate law. Then when I graduated in 2008, the financial crisis was just unfolding. I had started in the Capital Markets group at V&E, but because of the recession I became a bankruptcy and restructuring lawyer and I’ve done that ever since. Of course we were incredibly busy my first few years, and then as the economy cycled back up, I worked on a number of traditional transactions in addition to bankruptcy. Then since 2015, there has been a wave of restructurings in the oil and gas space that has kept the team engaged. One of the great things about V&E is the breadth of its practice offerings — there are sophisticated matters to work on when the economy is up and when it’s down.

Now your involvement is coming full circle with your young children participating in JCC camps

Yes, that’s a very gratifying thing. In addition to participating in JCC camps, the Jewish Federation sponsored a very impactful trip to Israel that I went on in high school. There were 50 or so Jewish kids from the Dallas/Fort Worth area, and we were in Israel for six weeks in the summer. We saw every part of the country, made incredible friends, went hiking in the desert. When they’re old enough, I hope my kids get a similar opportunity. The Federation also supports a number of causes that indirectly help our family, such as supporting the Anti-Defamation League in its battle against anti-Semitism and funding security resources for local Jewish institutions to ensure that children are safe in schools and camps. The Federation has funded the Community Security Initiative, staffed by a full-time Director of Community Security, that is charged with convening, preparing and equipping Jewish organizations with the information and education needed to be safe and secure.

How has your involvement with the Jewish Federation and the larger Jewish community in Dallas affected your practice?

Historically, there have been lots of Jewish attorneys in the bankruptcy and restructuring bar, and that’s true in Dallas as well. There are lawyers of all types — really every type — in the Cardozo Society and within the larger community, but there are a great number of restructuring attorneys, which has been very helpful because many times I’ve known the attorneys representing other parties in a matter from my work with the Cardozo Society. Bankruptcy is adversarial, but actually — and this is one of the reasons I like it — it’s collaborative as well. We are all commercial and trying to get to a good result for our clients that allows them to move forward. Obviously having relationships with the other attorneys really helps facilitate that process. And V&E has strongly supported my involvement with the Federation and Cardozo Society — this year the firm sponsored the Society’s annual society cocktail reception. It’s been nice to get that kind of support for something that has been important to now multiple generations of my family. But it makes sense — I really do think my involvement with the Federation has helped me be a better lawyer.

This information is provided by Vinson & Elkins LLP for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended, nor should it be construed, as legal advice.