Member Spotlight - Q&A with Sarah Luem
Shareholder, Business and Real Estate Attorney
Member Spotlight Q&A
Sarah was recently promoted to Shareholder at Capes Sokol, a mid-sized law firm in Clayton. Sarah represents individuals and closely held businesses of all sizes and in all stages of growth in corporate, real estate, contract and other transactional matters. She focuses her practice on resolving complex legal matters that affect businesses in a variety of industries – particularly those matters involving ownership disputes and deadlocks, business divorces, succession planning, and the sale, acquisition or leasing of commercial real estate. Prior to attending law school at Saint Louis University, Sarah worked as a Management Consultant, where she provided strategic communication and transformation consulting to Fortune 500 companies. This business consulting background provides her a unique perspective and enables her to provide clients with practical, business-focused solutions to their legal problems.
Q: When did you decide to get into the commercial real estate industry? Was it always your focus?
A: It was definitely not my initial focus! After working for several years as a management consultant focusing on IT projects, I decided to go back to school and get a law degree. When I made this decision, I knew I wanted to work with business owners to help them navigate both day-to-day operational, business and legal issues that arise and counsel them on more complex legal matters. Right after I started practicing law, I began working for a real estate developer, and I was immediately drawn to the world of commercial real estate.
Q: What are some of the things you love about your job?
A: Two things immediately come to mind. The first thing I love about my job are the people that I get to work with. The attorneys at my firm are fantastic people (in addition to being fantastic attorneys) AND we also are lucky enough to have truly amazing clients. The second thing that comes to mind is watching a project come to fruition. I don’t think I’ll ever get over the feeling of excitement I have whenever I drive by a project that I’ve worked on with a client!
Q: What is your CREW-St. Louis origin? When did you join? Why did you become a member?
A: I joined in late 2014 at the encouragement of one of my colleagues, Robin Steiner. As a non-native St. Louisan, I didn’t know many people in the industry, and Robin had nothing but glowing things to say about CREW’s programming and its members.
Q: What was the first CREW event you attended and what were your impressions?
A: The first event that I attended was an update on the retail market, focused on the current market in Chesterfield. This was not long after the outlet malls opened. The panel included representatives of both outlet malls and the Chesterfield Mall. I remember being interested to hear from a panel comprised of three “competing” shopping centers. Ironically, one of my clients (Michael Staenberg) now owns two of these three centers!
Q: Please name a few of the projects you’ve been involved in, specifically in the St. Louis area that you are proud of.
A: I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to work with Michael Staenberg on many of the projects that The Staenberg Group has worked on – both in St. Louis and around the country. I also have worked for many years with Wallis Oil Companies to help them with the sale, acquisition, development and leasing of filling stations, C-stores and car washes all around the metro area.
Q: What other associations or volunteer activities are you involved with?
A: Along with two fellow CREW-St. Louis members, I am a co-chair of “The Breast Trivia Night Ever!,” an event that raises funds for Gateway to Hope
, an organization that provides critical financial and emotional support to women in our area who are battling breast cancer. As a breast cancer survivor, this charity is near and dear to my heart! I’m also a board member of Books for St. Louis Kids
, whose mission is to provide new books to children in need. Last, but not least, I am an Adjunct Professor at Washington University’s Olin Business School where I teach an upper-level course on Business Law.
Q: How has COVID-19 impacted you and your organization?
A: For all of 2019, my law firm was working on a new office space (with assistance from many CREW-St. Louis members). We finally moved into our beautiful new office space in January 2020 – just two months before COVID restrictions were put in place. Like so many other businesses, we then had to quickly transition to a 100% virtual office, and our new space sat essentially vacant for months. We have slowly re-opened but many of us (including me) are still working primarily virtually.
From a work perspective, we were fortunate in that we remained busy throughout the pandemic, but the nature of much of our work temporarily shifted to assisting clients with obtaining PPP loans, obtaining forgiveness on PPP loans and helping clients navigate other issues that they were facing due to quarantine-related disruptions to their businesses.
Q: What else would you like your fellow CREW-St. Louis members to know about you?
A: I grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, and moved here in 1999 to go to Washington University. I met my husband (a native St. Louisan) at my first job after graduation and I’ve never left. I now live in Ballwin with my fantastic husband Patrick, and we have four amazing children: Emma (24), Bria (22), Maia (20) and Sterling (7). When I can find spare time, I love cooking, drinking a gin and tonic, traveling, being outdoors and spending time with my family.