About Alonso & de Leef, PLLC

Always On Your Side

Alonso & de Leef, PLLC is a Houston-based, full-service law firm offering legal services in the fields of Immigration, Criminal, Personal Injury, Family, Employment, Real Estate and Natural Resources. 

The firm was founded by immigrant attorneys Mairim Alonso and Peter de Leef, who offer over 25 years of legal experience. The firm was created to be international, innovative, adaptable, willing and able to tailor its services to fit each client’s needs. Our staff is 98% bilingual (Spanish/English), and to us, no client is too small and no legal issue too complex.

Meet the team

Alonso & De leef, pllc

Mairim Alonso, Esq., LL.M.

Partner
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Attorney Mairim Alonso, with years of experience practicing immigration law, has assisted thousands of Cuban nationals adjust their status to legal permanent residents by means of the Cuban Adjustment Act.

Attorney Alonso is originally from Santiago de Cuba, Cuba. She immigrated with her family at the age of 11. After 8 years of living in Miami, FL, Attorney Alonso moved to Houston, TX in 2012. Attorney Alonso is fluent in Spanish. Attorney Alonso obtained her Bachelor of Arts in business administration from Florida International University’s Landon Undergraduate College of Business. Attorney Alonso majored in International Business and minored in Economics. At the time FIU’s International Business program was ranked 6th in the Nation by the US News and World Magazine rankings. Attorney Alonso went on to pursue her Juris Doctorate at FIU’s College of Law and a Masters in Laws in Energy, Environmental and Natural Resources Law from the University of Houston Law Center.

Ms. Alonso’s legal experience is very diverse. As a law student she clerked for Miami Dade’s Department of Consumer Protection Division, and at Alexis Izquierdo, P.A., a personal injury firm. Upon graduating, Attorney Alonso moved to Houston, TX and, while awaiting the bar results, started working as a compliance officer in a healthcare setting. As a licensed attorney she worked at Lone Star Legal Aid advising low income Houstonians in issues dealing with family law, consumer debt/protection, landlord/tenant law, property law, and immigration law. Attorney Alonso then opened Alonso Legal Group, PLLC and Alonso & de Leef, PLLC where her focus, among the firm’s many practice areas, has been in immigration, oil and gas, and personal injury law.

Peter de Leef, Esq., LL.M.

Partner
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Attorney Peter de Leef has over 22 years of experience practicing criminal law and traffic ticket defense exclusively in Harris and surrounding counties, including five years as an Assistant District Attorney for Harris County. He has represented thousands of clients in traffic ticket infractions, misdemeanors, and felony cases. He understands that a criminal matter may cause you to experience anxiousness, fear, shame and that giving our clients peace of mind means making sure they understand the law/court process, seeing the evidence in their case, what the firm as attorneys are doing behind the scenes and for our clients to know that we are always willing and ready to go to trial.

Originally from South Africa, Attorney de Leef, has been a Houstonian for over 30 years. Attorney de Leef obtained his Juris Doctor from South Texas College of Law, a Master’s degree in Liberal Sciences at Rice University, a Masters in Laws in Energy, Environmental and Natural Resources Law and a Masters in Law in International Law from the University of Houston Law Center. 

After passing the Texas Bar in 1998, Attorney de Leef started his law career in 1999 as a Harris County criminal prosecutor under the tutelage of Johnny Holmes. Five years and many trials later Attorney de Leef began practicing criminal defense. Attorney de Leef has successfully represented thousands of clients in municipal court for traffic ticket infractions and a wide array of code violations. Attorney de Leef has taught firearms law to judges as well as civilians under the Department of Public Safety’s concealed handgun program.  Attorney de Leef has also advised law enforcement, judged mock trial cases and represented Uber partner drivers in multimillion-dollar litigation with the City of Houston. Attorney de Leef has represented hundreds of individuals in all types of misdemeanors and felonies; i.e., Class C Environmental Violations, DWIS/DUI, Thefts, Prostitution Related Offenses, Fraud/Forgery, Possession of Controlled Substance, Family Assault, Aggravated Robbery, to name a few.

Attorney de Leef loves photography, fishing and is passionate about giving back to the community. Attorney de Leef started a nonprofit to take underprivileged kids and their families fishing.

Alexander M. Menchaca, Esq.

Litigation Associate Attorney
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Attorney Alexander Menchaca was born and raised in the border town of El Paso, Texas who brings a wealth of knowledge and experience from the civil litigation field. His dedication to his clients and their families is the primary motivation for his practice and success.

To achieve his dream of becoming a successful litigation attorney, Attorney Menchaca attended Texas Tech University where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English and Criminology. Alex was accepted to attend and graduated cum laude from Thurgood Marshall School of Law in Houston, where he was distinguished for his academic achievements and extracurricular pursuits. While in law school, Attorney Menchaca worked as a legal clerk for defense litigation firms that set the foundation for his future litigation practice. Alex was accepted into the United States Attorney’s Office Honors Program where he interned with United States Prosecutors in the Middle District of Florida, the second-most populous district in the nation. His time with the U.S. Attorney’s Office allowed him an opportunity to develop his legal writing skills and spend invaluable time in the federal courtroom. Attorney Menchaca was additionally a member of multiple organizations in law school including the Federal Bar Association, Hispanic Law Student Association, and the Pacific Law Student Association.

Attorney Menchaca’s legal experience spans the civil and criminal fields. As a law student, Attorney Menchaca clerked with multiple defense litigation firms with a focus on first- and third-party insurance defense, products liability, premises liability, negligent security, trucking and transportation, automobile liability, and dram shop liability. Attorney Menchaca has extensive experience in handling the rigorous channels of litigation, including discovery, leading depositions, drafting complex legal documents, assisting in trial matters, to participating in oral arguments and hearings in front of the judge.

When he has the opportunity, Attorney Menchaca enjoys traveling and hiking. He loves spending time with family and friends. Attorney Menchaca is an avid sports fan, who also enjoys reading and is enthusiastic about keeping up with old and new films alike.

Genevieve Estrada, Esq.

Employment and Real Estate Associate Attorney
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Attorney Genevieve Estrada is a proud Longhorn as she received her bachelor’s degree in sociology with a minor in Spanish from the University of Texas at Austin. She attended the Thurgood Marshall School of Law in Houston, Texas, where she graduated 8th in her law school class. While in law school, Attorney Estrada was a member of the Law Review, Hispanic Law Student Association and Duberstein Moot Court Team. She also worked as a teacher’s assistant tutoring first and second-year law school students in Contracts. Attorney Estrada was awarded the CALI award for the highest grade in torts, contracts, tax, and domestic relations. In law school, Attorney Estrada received scholarships from Thurgood Marshall School of Law and the Association of Corporate Counsel.

Immediately after law school, Attorney Estrada began working as an associate attorney at a boutique litigation firm in Houston, Texas, that specialized in complex employment law matters; specifically, class and collective action suits in the wage and hour context brought under the Fair Labor Standards Act and similar state laws. Attorney Estrada represented employees across the United States who were wronged by their employers for failure to pay wages including overtime and minimum wages, discrimination, and wrongful termination, among other things.

Attorney Estrada also worked for an employment law consulting firm where she investigated Federal employees’ EEO claims against government agencies including the Transportation Security Administration, Center for Medicaid/Medicare Services, Securities and Exchange Commission and Department of Defense Education Activity.

Attorney Estrada has been involved in two successful jury trials involving groups of employees who brought overtime and minimum wage claims against their employers, and she has also assisted in several successful mediations, including the mediation of a multi-million dollar collective action against a Bank. Attorney Estrada continues to develop her broad-based litigation experience that includes high-level responsibility working directly with clients, drafting motions, defending clients in deposition, and developing trial strategy.

  • Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals
  • Southern District of Texas Federal Court
  • Northern District of Texas Federal Court
  • Texas State Bar

Fariha Chowdhry, Esq.

Immigration Associate Attorney
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Attorney Fariha Zafar Chowdhry, a graduate of South Texas College of Law Houston, focuses her immigration practice on litigation matters such as removal defense, representing clients in immigration court and in appellate matters.

Attorney Chowdhry is a first-generation American who grew up in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia and has had the opportunity to interact with people from all over the world.

Attorney Chowdhry received her Bachelor of Science in Political Science from the University of Houston, graduating Magna Cumlaude. She then went on to obtain her Juris Doctorate from South Texas College of Law Houston. During law school, she represented indigent clients in T-visa and asylum applications through South Texas College of Law’s Asylum and Human Trafficking Clinic. This is where her interest in Immigration began. Attorney Chowdhry then joined a small practice where she had the opportunity to represent asylum seekers in numerous jurisdictions.

Attorney Chowdhry is a certified Mediator, obtaining her certificate from the South Texas College of Law Frank Evans Center for Conflict Resolution.

Nicolle Navas, J.D.

Immigration Associate
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Ms. Nicolle Navas was born and raised in Nicaragua. She moved to the United States to attend college. Ms. Navas attended University of the Ozarks where she graduated cum laude with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science and Business Administration with a minor in Management. Ms. Navas earned her Juris Doctor from Loyola University New Orleans College of Law in New Orleans, where she represented pro-bono unaccompanied children and asylum seekers at the Stuart H. Smith Law Clinic and Center for Social Justice. Ms. Navas has been practicing Immigration Law since 2012. As an immigrant herself, Ms. Navas is very passionate about defending the rights of the vulnerable immigrant community. She is fluent in Spanish and has dealt with immigration cases from many countries in Latin America. Ms. Navas enjoys reading, cooking, and dancing. She loves learning about different cultures and trying different food.

Feroz Merchant

Of Counsel
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In 1990, Feroz Merchant earned his Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from the University of Houston. He worked for Halliburton Energy Service, one of the largest engineering companies in the world. He left Halliburton during his last year of law school and became a Contract Engineer for Fulbright & Jaworski. Upon graduation from South Texas College of Law, the Harris County District Attorney’s Office hired Feroz as a trial attorney.

In 2003, Mr. Merchant began his own practice focusing on helping those accused of criminal offenses.
Mr. Merchant’s vast experience and knowledge has proven to be an invaluable asset whom Alonso & de Leef are proud to work with.

Tharma Puebla

Office Manager/LL.M. Candidate
(Immigration)
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Ms. Tharma Puebla Vera was born in Pinar del Rio, Cuba. She lived most of her life in Havana, Cuba where she also attended law school. Ms. Puebla graduated from the University of Havana’s Facultad de Derecho in 2012. She is currently in the process of becoming a licensed Texas attorney.

Ms. Puebla’s legal experience is very diverse. As a law student she clerked at Havana’s Lonja del Comercio; entity responsible for regulating Cuba’s national commerce. Ms. Puebla was in charge of reviewing and drafting commercial agreements agreed to/entered by Cuba’s government and foreign corporations. After graduating, Ms. Puebla choose to pursue a career as public defender in Havana Public Defender’s office where she represented individuals in over 300 trials; ranging from petty theft charges to murder. Eventually, she was promoted to become a staff attorney at Havana’s Bufete Coletivo de Abogados; Cuba’s only legally recognized law firm. Her time at the Bufete Coletivo de Abogados was spent practicing in diverse practice areas; i.e., tasks included, drafting/fling motion to dismiss in civil litigation cases, drafting settlement letters, drafting and filing articles of incorporation, by-laws and articles of merger, attending pre-trial conferences and court proceedings, drafting corporate resolutions and partnership agreements, drafting lease agreements, preparing due diligence for complex civil litigation cases and conducting in-take interviews of prospective client reports.

Abigail Torres

Administrative Supervisor/Paralegal
(Personal Injury)
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Mrs. Abigail Torres joined the Alonso & de Leef, PLLC team in July 2018 with over 10 years of experience aiding attorneys in criminal cases and traffic violations. Desiring to expand her legal knowledge and experience, Mrs. Torres began assisting with our Personal Injury department in September 2019 and is thriving. She assists clients who have been injured in auto accidents and other incidents and guides them through their treatments and the legal process. Mrs. Torres also handles the administrative side of the practice, keeping the staff and attorneys’ lives in order.

Mrs. Torres was born in Mexico and immigrated with her parents to the United States in 1994. She grew up in the Houston area and is a fluent Spanish speaker. She is also a licensed Texas State Notary Public. Mrs. Torres enjoys spending time with her former U.S. Marine husband and is a devoted dog mom to her husky, Milo. They enjoy traveling, hiking, cooking traditional Mexican food, and finding new adventures together.

Yadira Cobas

Paralegal
(Immigration)
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Ms. Yadira Cobas moved to Houston, TX from Mexico City in 2016. She studied Computer Engineering at the Jose Antonio Echeverria Higher Polytechnic Institute (better known as CUJAE), in Havana, Cuba. After graduation, she quickly began working as a software developer in companies such as the National Institute of Metrology Research in Havana and Nyx Technology in Mexico City, places where she managed to develop professionally in her field.

Ms. Cobas previously worked as a legal assistant in the Alonso Legal Group law office beginning November 2016 but recently joined Alonso & de Leef, PLLC. Although her duties have nothing to do with her educational background, she has adapted perfectly to the environment. Among her main duties is guiding clients through immigration processes and preparing documents for those processes, such as adjustment of status, applications for work permits, travel, application for passports, consular processes, among others. All the above processes are generally related to Cubans and their families. 

Not completely abandoning her degrees, Ms. Cobas also deals with issues related to the computerization of the office such as marketing, websites, social networks, etc. Ms. Cobas is very passionate about watching television series, listening to music, dancing (like a good Cuban at last). She is a dog lover and loves to grow plants.

Joanhny Perrett

Paralegal
(Criminal/Family)
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Miss. Joanhny Perrett, also known as Jo, began working with partner Peter de Leef, PLLC in November of 2018 and joined Alonso & de Leef, PLLC in April of 2019. She works primarily in the criminal and family law department and has great experience working in the traffic department. She supports paralegals and attorneys as needed. Ms. Perrett is a U.S citizen with proud Mexican roots and she is a fluent Spanish speaker, verbal and written. She plans to continue her education for her passion for criminal law.

Diego Paez

Paralegal
(Immigration)
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Mr. Diego Paez joined Alonso & de Leef, PLLC in June of 2019 as a receptionist and legal assistant. He deals primarily with affirmative immigration cases, meaning clients who are not facing deportation and are seeking to obtain legal permanent residence status or U.S. citizenship. He is currently attending the University of Houston – Clear Lake and is seeking his Bachelor of Arts in psychology. Mr. Paez plans to attend law school after he graduates.

Zobeida Andujar

Legal Assistant
(Immigration)
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Ms. Zobeida Andujar is originally from Guaynabo, Puerto Rico. Ms. Andujar moved to Houston 17 years ago and lives with her 2 children. Ms. Andujar joined the firm in 2016 as a receptionist and has since moved up to serve as a legal assistant for our immigration practice.

Ms. Andujar obtained her Bachelors in Business Administration from the Universidad Metropolitana at Rio Piedras Puerto Rico in 1993 where she majored in Marketing. 

Ms. Andujar worked at the Capitol of Puerto Rico as one of the assistants of a Representative of the Chamber, then worked for the Department of Justice of Puerto Rico as a Technician II of the Property Registry for 5 years where she acquired some knowledge in the legal field, then married and came to the USA.

Stephany Gisell Rivera

Receptionist
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Miss. Stephany Gisell Rivera, who goes by Gisell, was born in Honduras and moved to Houston 6 years ago with her family. She attended Brookside Intermediate and graduated from high school in 2019. She joined Alonso & de Leef in November 2019 and works as a receptionist. She is a fluent Spanish speaker.

Cynthia Perrett

Receptionist
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Miss. Cynthia Perrett joined Alonso & de Leef in August 2019 and works primarily with traffic tickets and as a receptionist. She is a proud U.S. Hispanic from a Mexican immigrant parent and is a fluent Spanish speaker.

Martha Isabel De Anda

Receptionist
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Miss. Isabel De Anda joined Alonso & de Leef in August of 2019 as a receptionist at the new office in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico. She works in the immigration area, welcoming the people who are looking for asylum, residency, etc. in the United States of America. She is looking forward to attending the University of Texas at El Paso in 2020 to study criminal justice and pursue what makes her happy, which is, helping others.

Lucero De Alva

Marketing/Administrative Liason
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Ms. Lucero De Alva lives in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico. She studied Industrial Engineering at Instituto Tecnologico de Cd. Juarez (ITCJ) and is now a few credits away from finishing her master’s degree in Business Administration at Universidad Autonoma de Cd. Juarez (better known as UACJ). Two years before graduating from college, Ms. De Alva worked as an intern in the manufacturing industry. She got her first job as an engineer at Ceramica de Juarez after graduating. Two years later, she got a customer service director position for the electronics department at 3M EDUMEX, where she dealt with important customers such as Hewlett Packard, Lenovo, and Toshiba, to name a few. After the birth of her four children, Ms. De Alva quit her full-time job as an engineer to become a stay-at-home mom. In 2001, Ms. De Alva got a position as a teacher at Tecnologico de Monterrey in Ciudad Juarez (ITESM), where she taught English and Mathematics for high school and college. She also was a part-time English Teacher at Centro de Lenguas (UACJ) and Centro de Idiomas (ITESM), where she worked at for seven years. During that period, Ms. De Alva studied to get her certification as a teacher, and opened her own company – English Education Services – that brings its own ESL program for employees in the manufacturing industry, as well as translation and interpretation services.

In 2017, Ms. De Alva released a storybook for children called, “Pita and the Sunflowers,” a dream that she had since she was little. A few months after her book was released, teachers from Ciudad Juarez turned the story into a Peace project for children which led Mrs. De Alva to work as a volunteer in 114 of the poorest schools in her hometown. As a result of this work, the World Organization for Peace named her a distinguished member in the state of Chihuahua, where she represents the organization in any situation that involves children and teenagers. In 2019, while Ms. De Alva was volunteering for migrants from Central America, she had the privilege to meet Attorney Mairim Alonso and Mrs. Abigail Torres and a few months later, she was asked to work with them as a Marketing/Administrative Liaison for the Cd. Juarez-El Paso office. This is a position that is new to her, but also one that brings a great deal of satisfaction, because now she can help migrants with more than just clothes, food and toys, she supports a professional law firm that will do its best to guide them through their immigration proceedings.

Alonso Legal Group, PLLC

Evelin Gutierrez

Paralegal (Immigration)
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Ms. Evelin Gutiérrez García is originally from Havana, Cuba. After waiting over two years, Ms. Gutierrez was finally able to join her husband, with their son, in Houston, TX in April 2017. Ms. Gutierrez joined the firm shortly thereafter. She hopes to become a licensed Texas attorney in the near future.

In 2005, Ms. Gutierrez obtained her law degree from the University Havana’s Facultad de Derecho. Immediately after graduation, Ms. Gutierrez started working as in-house counsel for MATHISA. Ms. Gutierrez then went on to become in-house counsel at ALIMPORT for 5 years; Cuba’s state-owned national food importer/exporter. Ms. Gutierrez was in charge of in international contracts. Her day to day duties included, among others, due diligence on foreign compliance, meeting resolutions, filing claims for non-performance, drafting and reviewing contracts and managing litigation. Ms. Gutierrez went on to pursue a position at Sociedad Mercantil Cítricos Caribe S.A, where she was in charge of international contracts dealing with Cuba’s trade of juices, pulps, purees, essential oils of fruits (industrialized products), as well as fruits and fresh vegetables and charcoal.

She worked at Alonso & de Leef, PLLC from June 2017 to 2019 as a legal assistant and now works at our sister firm, Alonso Legal Group, PLLC.

Katiuska Rodriguez Gonzalez

Paralegal (Immigration)
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Ms. Katiuska Rodriguez Gonzalez is originally from Cuba where she studied Telecommunications and Computer Engineering at the Military School Camilo Cienfuegos, in Matanzas, Cuba. After graduation, she moved to Ecuador in 2014 and then moved to Houston, TX from Tampa, FL in 2015.

Ms. Rodriguez started working as a Legal Assistant with Alonso Legal Group, PLLC in April 2020 and although her current work has nothing to do with her educational background, she has adapted to the environment. She works with Cuban clients guiding them though immigration process and preparing documents for those processes, such as adjustment of status, work permit applications, travel permit applications, passport applications, and consular process, among others.

Yudelkis Acosta Aguilar

Paralegal (Immigration)
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Ms. Yudelkis Acosta Aguilar was born in Camagüey, Cuba and obtained her law degree from the University of Camaguey’s Facultad de Derecho in 2005. Since her graduation and until 2014, she worked as an Attorney for Bufetes Colectivos de Abogados, Cuba’s only legally recognized law firm. As a member of this Lawyer’s Organization, she dedicated herself to various areas of practice such as Criminal Law, Civil and Family Cases, Labor Law and in particular Business Advise, where among other entities she led the Legal Advice of ACINOX Comercial, a Cuban company dedicated to Import, Export and Marketing of products derived from steel. She moved to Houston, TX in 2017 and in July of 2019, Ms. Acosta joined the Alonso Legal Group, PLLC team as a Paralegal. She hopes to become a licensed Texas attorney in the near future.

Martha Vera

Receptionist
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Ms. Martha Vera is originally from Pinar del Río, Cuba. Ms. Vera moved to Houston three years ago and lives with her daughter. Ms. joined the firm in November 2017 and holds the position of the receptionist at Alonso Legal Group, LLC. Ms. Vera has been in this position for three years and has developed extensive experience in immigration processes for Cubans.

Ms. Vera obtained her certificate as a Medical Specialist in Family Medicine in Cuba in 1988 and a Master in Public Health in 1998. Ms. Vera worked as a medical specialist providing health services for more than 30 years. This title has helped her to maintain a warm relationship with clients and guide them in their processes.