Gold Key honoree: Attorney finds niche in business litigation


By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News
Attorney Jonathan Ajlouny can perhaps thank author John Grisham for his law career.

In 6th grade, Ajlouny came across Grisham’s book “The Firm” at his aunt’s house—and stayed up all night reading it.

“I was fascinated by it and ever since then, I knew this was the career I wanted,” he says. “While not as dramatic as the book, my path to becoming an attorney has reaffirmed this is the right career.”

After earning his undergrad degree in International Studies and Economics from the University of Michigan, Ajlouny headed to Wayne State University Law School, where he maintained his academic standing in the top 10 percent of his class; received the school’s highest academic honor, the Gold Key Award; and graduated cum laude last year.

He has particular praise for his law school professors.

“Wayne Law really brings in some engaging and intelligent people,” he says.

Ajlouny was a founder of the Wayne Law Journal of Business, in which he was elected and served as editor-in-chief for its inaugural year. Founding the journal was “quite the learning experience,” he says.

“I’ve always had the mindset that just because something hasn’t been done before, doesn’t mean I can’t do it,” he says. “I take the same mindset into the practice of law – I’ll argue non-traditional theories if I think there’s a basis for them or take different paths to obtain an end goal. I like the excitement of working outside the box.”

A 6-month internship for Michigan Supreme Court Justice David F. Viviano was Ajlouny’s first taste into what it meant to be a lawyer.

“I truly enjoyed it,” he says. “Justice Viviano is engaging in his work, and he expected the same from his clerks and interns. I was impressed with how the Supreme Court operates at such a high level and with such a high volume of cases.”

Ajlouny also interned for Magistrate David R. Grand, at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, in 2015.

“Justice Grand was spectacular to work with,” he says. “One of the main takeaways I got from my experience is that no one is right 100 percent of the time and you can’t have a fear of being wrong. This is something I’ve taken to heart. “

Ajlouny, who also clerked at Zausmer, August, & Caldwell PC in Farmington Hills and at Kitch, Drutchas, Wagner, Valitutti, & Sherbrook PC in Madison Heights, is now an attorney at Mantese Honigman in Troy, specializing in business litigation, shareholder disputes, and health care law.

“Business litigation has always been where my heart is,” he says. “I love coming to work every day and practicing business law. I’ve always rooted for the underdog, and I get to do so representing minority shareholders in business litigation. It’s motivating to get my clients the results that they deserve.

“Health care law was a bit new for me, but I’ve grown to enjoy it. Some of my business clients are doctors and hospitals, so I get an intertwine of health care and business law. As a result, I’ve dove into some of the complexities surrounding healthcare and have really grown to enjoy it. Health care law is a burgeoning and unique area of law.”

Two recent cases each involved brothers in heated disputes over the family business conglomerate.

“It’s something we experience frequently, and never a pleasant situation,” Ajlouny says. “Having business disputes with family members does nothing but amplify the intensity of litigation and makes finding an amicable resolution that much harder. In one case, the brothers refused access to business records, stopped paying the other a salary and dividends, changed the locks on the buildings, and did everything they could to prevent our client from having a livelihood.

“It’s messy, but these cases make obtaining an equitable result for the oppressed party that much more rewarding.”

Ajlouny previously clerked at Mantese Honigman in his first summer of law school.

“While I enjoyed clerking at various large firms in the greater Detroit area, I was ecstatic to come back to Mantese Honigman after I graduated,” he says. “In my opinion, we have some of the hardest working and brilliant attorneys I know, and it’s an honor working and growing with them. As a firm, we constantly are striving to improve.”

A Troy native who now makes his home in Royal Oak, Ajlouny is passionate about helping local teachers. He annually sponsors three teachers in underprivileged communities to buy classroom supplies and will be guest lecturing on business law at his alma mater, Troy High School, later this year.

The oldest of four, Ajlouny enjoys living and working in the Detroit area, where his girlfriend Elyse practices law at the Mike Cox Law Firm.
“Being next to my family is number one,” he says. “But beyond that, what’s not to love about Detroit? It’s got an up-and-coming food scene, beautiful lakes, and a diverse metro area.”

In his leisure time, he loves to cook, spend time on Michigan’s lakes, and travel, including a recent backpacking trip in Thailand.

“It was a dream vacation for me,” he says. “I think minimalism is the best way to travel, and cheapest—stay, eat, and do what the locals do to really experience their culture.”

Ajlouny is also an avid weightlifter, and occasionally competes in powerlifting and strongman competitions.