Excerpt from San Antonio Woman, Women in Law Profile
Sasha Begum has over 10 years’ experience in domestic and international corporate matters, working for large companies assisting startups from inception through the growth stage and beyond. She started her career at Bracewell & Giuliani’s Houston office, where she worked in real estate, infrastructure and oil and gas companies. From there she moved to Baker & McKenzie’s and spent the last six years working as Cardtronics’ associate general counsel before deciding to start her own firm in San Antonio.
Juanita Peláez-Prada counsels clients in civil litigation matters, including business and commercial disputes, labor and employment matters, family law disputes and intellectual property and trademark controversies. Her experience as a litigator serves her in assisting and counseling her clients in legal compliance, assessing risks and developing strategies for avoiding litigation. She also assists corporate clients with general business issues, including corporate formation and dissolution and contract negotiations.
Peláez-Prada and Begum’s long-standing partnership started as a friendship while they were still in high school. Each has a decade of legal experience and can offer business clients Peláez-Prada’s litigation and real estate experience, while Begum addresses corporate and transactional law. A third lawyer in their firm specializes in immigration law.
The two decided to start their own firm in 2016 while on a play date with their respective young sons, who are each 4 years old now. An added strength they possess is that both are perfectly fluent in both Spanish and English, thus able to cater to Mexican nationals who need legal counsel for their businesses and immigration issues.
Both eagerly agreed that in order to be a partner in your client’s success you should be able to speak their first language and understand their culture. For Begum and Peláez-Prada, being bicultural and bilingual are assets to their legal practice in San Antonio.
Peláez-Prada spoke about how her family moved to San Antonio from Dallas because they found San Antonio to be a welcoming city with a rich cultural heritage.
Begum, born and raised in Brownsville, attended high school at Saint Mary’s Hall, where she met Peláez-Prada. What prompted her to pursue law was her mother’s negative experience selling her business and using a lawyer who did not represent her business interests well.
“My mom had cancer and needed an attorney to sell her business,” Begum said. “She was not protected from business liabilities in that sale, but she didn’t know any better. I want to make sure that doesn’t happen to anyone else, so I walk my clients through the entire process so they know what to expect and they understand what they are signing.”
Begum’s advice to those starting out is to remember to leverage the skills acquired in your legal education: “You can use your legal education in many ways because law school teaches you to think critically, and that can be applied to many professions.”
Peláez-Prada points out how San Antonio is a unique market for lawyers because of the importance placed on maintaining relationships. She advises, “Think of being more than a lawyer— in essence, you are a partner with your clients, helping their businesses prosper and succeed. We’re invested in their outcomes, and I would recommend anyone starting out approach their practice in much the same way.”
By Iris Gonzalez
Photography by Martin Waddy