Best Of 2021

Best Attorney: Javad Khazaeli

Javad Khazaeli with Dow Boyer
For Dow Boyer and her family in rural St. Francois County, St. Louis attorney Javad Khazaeli was the difference between devastation and reunion. Born in Thailand and brought to the United States as a child, Boyer was never told that she wasn’t a naturalized citizen, only learning the truth through an arrest in 2013: She had been skimming cash from her employer to support her family after her husband’s legs had been crushed in a work accident. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement moved to deport her, ripping her away from her husband and young daughter, but Boyer’s rural community, including the employers she had stolen from, rallied around her to oppose the cruel separation. Yet it was Khazaeli, a former prosecutor with ICE and Homeland Security, whose calls to federal officials halted Boyer’s exile just hours before her plane was scheduled to take off. Instead of being abandoned to a country she could barely remember, she was returned to her family. Six years later, with her husband recovered and the arrest behind her, Boyer became a full citizen — a happy ending that couldn’t have happened without an attorney who cared enough to fight. —Danny Wicentowski