GETTING TO KNOW: Mani Khavajian


Immigration and criminal defense attorney Mani Khavajian obtained his undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan and went on to receive his juris doctor degree from the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law. Khavajian has offices in Birmingham and Dearborn, and will open an office in Warren in May.

Growing up as an immigrant in the U.S. has given Khavajian a unique understanding of the problems many immigrants face in the U.S. In law school, he gained exposure to the area of immigration law as the research assistant for immigration law professor David C. Koelsch. Also as a law student, he received the prestigious Book Award for his exceptional performance in the Asylum Law Clinic and completed a fellowship at Freedom House providing assistance with asylum cases. He was honored in 2017 to serve as the board chair of Justice for Our Neighbors-Michigan.

Khavajian lives in Farmington Hills with his daughter and two Catahoula Leopard dogs. When he can find the time, he travels up north to enjoy fishing trips with friends.

By Jo Mathis
Legal News

When you were considering law school, what was Plan B?
I never had a Plan B. I always wanted to be a lawyer. As a law student, I wanted to practice immigration and criminal defense and today I am an immigration and criminal defense attorney.

Any advice for someone considering law school?
If you want to be a lawyer, then you better be ready to fight.

What is your proudest moment as a lawyer?
My first asylum hearing. The trial took place only a few months after I received my license to practice law. The judge granted my client asylum, and allowed him to seek refuge in the U.S. Today, my client and his family live freely in the U.S. and are no longer subject to torture and persecution.

What’s the best compliment you’ve received?
“You don’t think outside of the box. You throw the box away.”

What was always written on your grade school report card?
“Speaks with classmates to the point of disrupting the class.”

What is your happiest childhood memory?
When my family was reunited in the U.S.

What do you wish someone would invent?
Teleportation device.  

When you look back into the past, what do you miss most?
Every moment of growing up in the 90s.

If you could have witnessed any event in history, what would it be?
The Revolutionary War and to chat with Benjamin Franklin.  

What were you doing in your last selfie?
Hanging out with my one-year old daughter.

What question do you most often ask yourself?
Is there anything more I can do?

If you could trade places with someone for a day, who would that be?
My baby girl. Since her birth, I have always wondered what the world is like from her perspective.

What’s the most awe-inspiring place you’ve been?
British Columbia.

What is one thing you would like to learn to do?
Fly a plane.

What is something most people don’t know about you?
My favorite job was as the Good Humor ice cream man.

What is the best advice you ever received?
The shortest pencil is longer than the longest memory.

What is your most treasured material possession?
A German military helmet my best friend’s Jewish grandfather took from a dead Nazi during World War II.