Meet The Team

While Arati is the managing attorney of AB Law, the firm has a strong supportive network of legal talent. No project is too large or complex for AB Law. We have phenomenal attorneys and staff members on standby and have the ability to scale up very quickly to handle any legal issue.

  • Arati Bhattacharya, Founder and Managing Attorney
  • Katherine Deffebach, Director of Operations
  • Kelsey Maline, Client and Marketing Director
  • Jimmy Verner, Corporate Counsel
  • Richard James, Advanced Estate Planning, Probate, and Real Estate Counsel

Arati Bhattacharya, Founder and Managing Attorney

After 15 years of an intellectually engaging partnership at a nationally reputed, complex legal boutique firm, Arati (pronounced Ar-tee) chose the timing of the pandemic to chart new waters and launch AB Law, PLLC.

Meet Arati, the lawyer

Arati has 15 years of legal experience overseeing complex business estates through every stage. If there is a business concern to solve, Arati has the know-how to tackle it, sticky codes and all. If there is an estate planning issue to address, Arati has the knowledge, the compassion, and a fully developed belt-and-suspenders approach to make legacies last and wishes stand the test of time. She is passionate about helping families and businesses get to their Point B, with as little court interference as possible.

Arati has acquired extensive business law experience with developing multi-million dollar rehabilitation plans for court approval and subsequently rehabilitating large companies, advising large corporate divisions on financial and claims matters, overseeing regulatory compliance efforts for companies operating in all 50 states and in highly regulated industries, leading due diligence and negotiation efforts for the sale of all or part of a company’s business, drafting and negotiating purchase deals and other business transactions, negotiating vendor agreements and other business-related contracts, assisting with ordinary course of business matters for multi-million dollar companies, assisting with the liquidation and wind down of multi-million dollar corporations, handling claims adjudications, litigating cases, and handling many other complex legal and business transactions.

Arati is grateful for the opportunity to have been a partner of a nationally reputed boutique law firm for 10 years (with 5 years of additional experience prior to partnership). As a partner and a business owner, Arati has learned how to run a business. As a seasoned and tested lawyer, Arati has learned how to be effective and engaged with her clients, keenly tuned into what they really need. She quickly learned that her clients often do not want the clunky legal solutions that hourly billing, opaque law firm models provide.

We encourage you to reach out – we think you’ll actually enjoy working with us. AB Law is comprised of real people, armed with both experience and practicality, and a sense of how legal systems and processes actually work in real application.

We are ready to walk this journey with you.

Meet Arati, the person

Arati firmly believes that everyone should have equal access to the protections of the law and is passionate about educating and empowering her clients and community on how the law can protect and benefit them. She also really enjoys watching her clients grow and reap the rewards of their success.

When she is not lawyering, Arati cherishes her time with her husband and two daughters. She also devotes her energy towards her family’s personal charity initiative, Akash’s Libraries, which builds libraries and funds literacy initiatives in impoverished communities across South and Southeast Asia, in memory of her infant son. Arati also enjoys off the beaten path and adventure travel – favorites include hiking with mountain gorillas in Uganda and wild orangutans in Indonesia, diving with sharks in Thailand, riding camels overnight through the Sahara Desert, and exploring remote regions of Mozambique for which guidebooks are not available.

Arati is a native Houstonian and loves her hometown, although she has grown to appreciate Austin and Dallas after spending several years in each city.

Arati is ready to share her legal experience with her community, and the families and businesses that bring life to the Houston and Texas markets.

Speaking Engagements

Arati really enjoys educating and empowering families and professionals in her community. If you have an event or a group of people where you would like Arati to speak, please drop her a note and she would love to do so!


Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law

Juris Doctor, 2006

  • Activities and Societies: University of Oxford Study Abroad Program, Board of Advocates – Executive Council, Student Bar Association – Executive Board, Multiple Moot Court Teams
  • Honors and Awards: The Order of Barristers, John Kennedy Memorial Scholarship, Dean’s List

Texas A&M University

Bachelor of Business Administration, magna cum laude, 2003

  • Lowry Mays College of Business Fellows Program (top 1%)

Bar Admissions

  • State Bar of Texas, 2006


  • Arati Bhattacharya, The Successful Rehabilitation of Shenandoah Life Insurance Company (Oct. 25, 2012)
  • Co-author of Chapter 97 (Insurance Insolvency), New Appleman on Insurance
  • Co-author of Chapter 100 (Rehabilitation Of Insurers), New Appleman on Insurance
  • Co-author of Chapter 104 (Case Studies of Insurer Insolvencies), New Appleman on Insurance

“Thoroughly updated and modern, the New Appleman on Insurance Law Library Edition is the authoritative source for understanding both the basics and the nuances of insurance law…. [W]ritten by the leading scholars and practitioners of insurance law…. The New Appleman set is recognized as the most authoritative, comprehensive, and up-to-date source for analysis of insurance law in the United States.” – LexisNexis

Community Involvement

  • State Bar of Texas
  • Founding Board of Directors and Founding Member, Impact100 Houston
  • Founder, Akash’s Libraries

Katherine Deffebach, Director of Operations

A native Texan, Katherine has 5 years of experience in operations management and being at the helm of office operations. She is so excited to come on board to assist with the launch of AB Law. Katherine is Arati’s right hand woman with helping build the law firm from the ground up and keeps things running smoothly.

Katherine is a mother of three beautiful daughters and spends most of her free time running them around. She is also an avid runner and loves to travel.

Kelsey Maline,
Client and Marketing Director

Kelsey creates and manages the content for our social media accounts, blog, newsletters, email campaigns, events and webinars, promos, website, and Google Business profile. She graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a B.A. in Communication in 2013 and has worked in many areas of the field. She joined AB Law in 2022 and has worked in estate planning for three years. 

In her free time, she enjoys skiing, going to concerts and festivals, adventuring outdoors, traveling, and spending time with her husband, son, family, and friends. 

Jimmy Verner, Corporate Counsel

Jimmy Verner is Of Counsel to AB Law. Mr. Verner is a long-time Texas attorney with substantial experience in business and corporate law. He counsels startups and small businesses with their varying yet distinct needs and helps set up corporations and LLCs across the country. AB Law is grateful to have Mr. Verner as a part of its team.Mr. Verner boasts a long legal career. After graduating from law school in 1979, he served as a law clerk for a federal judge. After working in a general practice, Mr. Verner began to specialize in trying commercial litigation cases and later worked as a family law attorney. He was Board Certified in Civil Trial Law and Family Law for thirty years before retiring from the courtroom.

 Mr. Verner is a member of the Texas Bar College, an honorary society of lawyers who are among the best-trained attorneys in Texas. This elite group of lawyers, paralegals, and judges are leaders in the legal profession, having completed at least double the Continuing Legal Education (CLE) required by the State Bar of Texas.

Richard James, Advanced Estate Planning, Probate, and Real Estate Counsel

Richard James was raised in Corinth, Mississippi in a family of four. He attended The University of Mississippi, where he received a Bachelor of Accountancy (1999) and a Master of Taxation (2000). While at Ole Miss, he received a Taylor Medal, the top honor given to each of the university’s school’s top students, and he passed the Mississippi Certified Public Accountancy Exam with the second highest score in the state, among all first-time test takers. In 2003, Mr. James received his J.D. from Tulane Law School where he served on The Tulane Law Review. In 2004, he received an LL.M. in Tax Law from The University of Florida, one of the top tax law programs in the country, where he served on The Florida Tax Review.

Mr. James has served as a general counsel of a chemical company and a construction company, where he obtained valuable day-to-day business and legal experiences with contracts for the acquisition of business, industrial leases, contracts for the sales of goods, general business matters, and with commercial litigation. He also received valuable experience with working with businesses on a daily basis, including management, human resources, and accounting.

Mr. James has a real estate salesperson license in Texas (license number 722593), under sponsoring broker Texas United Realty ( He takes his experience with the acquisition and lease of commercial and industrial properties a step further by helping clients locate, negotiate, and acquire (or lease) commercial and industrial properties. 

Mr. James is the founder of Straight Path Diligence, LLC, a firm that helps clients achieve the goal and dream of owning a business or commercial real estate for development.  The commercial real estate division of Straight Path develops commercial real estate for clients as a fee developer.  With this service, Mr. James can locate commercial real estate, acquire it, act as the lawyer and agent for the transaction, and, through Straight Path, develop it into a profitable project.

Mr. James’ practice focuses on business and real estate law, tax, and estate planning/probate. He advises businesses on general corporate matters, commercial transactions, and business acquisitions and sales, and he advises families with respect to property law, probate, and estate planning.

He lives with his wife Molly and two boys. They also have two adult children, a granddaughter, and grandson. In his spare time, Mr. James enjoys spending time with his family, following college football, reading, and grilling.


  • The University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida
    • LL.M. Tax Law 2004
  • Tulane Law School, New Orleans, Louisiana
    • J.D. – 2003
  • The University of Mississippi, Oxford, Mississippi
    • Master of Taxation, 2000
    • Bachelor of Accountancy, 1999

Bar Admissions

  • Texas, 2003
  • Florida, 2004