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Dallas lawyer Kristin Regel and Houston attorney Jessica Rossman are in good spirits. Regel and Rossman enjoy their successful law careers. But they’ve realized there’s more to life than law, so they’re entrepreneurs outside the office — liquor importers. At Mattito’s on McKinney Avenue in Dallas, the 31-year-old Regel, carrying a briefcase full of tequila bottles, makes her way through the throng of lunchgoers to a tall table by the bar. Regel likes Mattito’s � plus, it sells her spirits. Before she sits, she pulls out three sample bottles of “Tequila El Reformador,” the product she imports when she’s not practicing commercial litigation as an associate at Thompson, Coe, Cousins & Irons in Dallas. Tapping on the bottles with her well-manicured nails, she describes the varieties, which range in price from $60 to $80, depending on the market. Regel explains the process: Agave plants are cooked, which yields the juices used to make tequila, and it goes through a triple distilling process. She’s excited about the new flavored tequilas released this month. She is so well-versed in the business, it’s a wonder she finds time to be an attorney. Regel says she works 40 to 60 hours a week at the firm and another 10 for her company, The Aranto Group. In many respects her tequila business goes hand-in-hand with her practice. It’s been a good deal for her and the firm, Regel says: She benefits from the added exposure to transactional work as general counsel for The Aranto Group; Thompson Coe benefits from the publicity; and clients benefit with lots of free tequila. “She brings tequila to the office and gives it to the partners a lot, and we enjoy that because it’s excellent tequila, top quality stuff,” says David M. Taylor, head of litigation at Thompson Coe. Taylor says Regel’s side business has not affected her ability to practice law at the firm because it’s not a very time-consuming business, it’s just a part of her life. Regel even used her tequila business, which was up and running as an informal partnership in 1996, as a selling point during her job interview with Thompson Coe after graduating from St. Mary’s University School of Law in 1997. “I don’t think I brought a bottle of tequila with me to my interview at Thompson Coe but I did pitch it,” she says. “I said that I’m an entrepreneur and tried to distinguish myself from the other candidates. I guess it worked.” Taylor adds, “In fact, when she interviewed for the job she sent me a bottle of tequila with a thank you note. It was a big positive.” Above the noise of the crowded restaurant, Regel talks about growing up the only child of a U.S. Army colonel and the international exposure she got as a result. Regel, who speaks Spanish fluently, says her fondness for Mexico grew while traveling in the country; that’s how she met the Mexican friends who are now her partners in the company. Lourdes Sanchez Aranguren and Fernando del Torro concentrate on the business of making and selling the tequila. During one visit to Mexico, while Regel was still in law school, the three decided they wanted to bring their own brand of tequila to the United States. Aranguren’s friend owned a distillery just outside of Guadalajara. “We were three young professionals going into the workforce and thinking we wanted a profession,” says Regel. “But at the same time we wanted something that would be our own.” Regel says one day she’d like to own a restaurant with Aranguren, but for now she has her sights set on making partner at Thompson Coe. She’s up for partner in two years, she says. “The partners in my law firm are afraid that I’m going to become so successful that I’m going to leave,” she says. Her business makes a profit, she says, and grosses about $50,000 a month. Investors are knocking at the door — but Regel says she’s not going anywhere. “I’d say I have aspirations above and beyond practicing law. At the same time I’m dedicated to my firm, and I like the practice of law and have every intention of becoming a partner.” ROSSMAN’S VENTURE But Regel has some competition in Houston. In-house lawyer Rossman, 32, imports pisco (pronounced peace-ko), a strong grape liquor that is to Peru what tequila is to Mexico or vodka is to Russia. At El Tiempo Cantina in downtown Houston, the bartender instinctively pulls a bottle from the overhead shelf as Rossman approaches the bar. The two converse in Spanish as he mixes cocktails using “Quiero Pisco,” her company’s liquor. Pisco sours are mixed like margaritas, with lime juice, sugar and a splash of vodka or triple sec. “Perfecto,” says Rossman, who recently left a six-year stint as a Bracewell & Patterson associate to work in the Latin American legal department of Continental Airlines in Houston. Her first day was April 30. “Every single cocktail party you go to in Lima and every beach waiter’s going to automatically have pisco sours on the menu,” she says, sipping her drink. Rossman and her brother-business partner, Lucho, a Houston physician, grew up in Austin with their Peruvian mother and American father. Because her mother’s family is in Peru, Rossman traveled there frequently as a child and grew up surrounded by its culture and customs. Like Regel, during law school Rossman had the idea to import liquor. She attended Boalt Hall School of Law at the University of California at Berkeley. “In law school we’d come back from Peru with pisco in our suitcases,” she says. “And we would make pisco cocktails for our friends, and they’d love it and say, ‘You have to bring this in.’ “ Rossman graduated in 1994 and went straight to work at Bracewell. She refers to herself as a “new generation corporate attorney.” “I’m female and even though that represents challenges, I wasn’t the first woman out of law school to get a job in a law firm. A lot of women have opened up the doors for me.” Six years later, she and her brother started importing pisco through their company, Pan American Spirits. Pisco costs about $19 a bottle. Unlike Regel’s company, Rossman’s has yet to break even; she says Visa and MasterCard love her right now. But she doesn’t mind. She looks at it as a creative outlet, a hobby. From January 1999 to May 2000 she says she’s spent about 20 hours a week doing Pan American Spirits work. Since then, she’s spent about five hours a week. As a lawyer, her workweek averages 50 hours. “If I were married with kids this would not have happened,” she says. “This was the baby. Instead of going to a PTA meeting or watching TV, I did this.”

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