Michael Arai Behrens represents clients in a wide range of litigation before federal and state courts and arbitral tribunals. He has litigated professional negligence, contract, defamation, commercial lease, health care fraud, RICO, labor union, and C-suite employment disputes, and has argued and won before the Ninth Circuit and in district court. Mr. Behrens also specializes in complex and sensitive internal investigations. In 2017, together with former California Supreme Court Justice Carlos Moreno, Mr. Behrens led a high-profile investigation into allegations that officials in the University of California Office of the President interfered with a state audit. In 2013, Mr. Behrens conducted a sensitive investigation into racial bias at UCLA on behalf of a blue-ribbon panel chaired by Justice Moreno. The resulting “Moreno Report” was lauded by faculty as an important step for the university in supporting a diverse faculty, and its recommendations were adopted by UCLA.
Mr. Behrens maintains an extensive pro bono practice, with a particular interest in immigration. In 2013, Mr. Behrens obtained a landmark constitutional holding from the Ninth Circuit. Arguing on behalf of a pro bono immigration client, Mr. Behrens argued that the INS had violated his client’s constitutional due process rights when the agency mishandled his mother’s naturalization petition in 1985, depriving him of automatic U.S. citizenship. In the resulting opinion, Brown v. Holder, 763 F.3d 1141 (9th Cir. 2014), the Ninth Circuit held for the first time that a constitutional right exists to apply for U.S. citizenship. A concurrence by Judge Tallman, while agreeing with the result, called the ruling “expansive” and “novel” in finding, for the first time, a “constitutionally protected right to apply for citizenship.”
Mr. Behrens also works with victims of domestic violence in Los Angeles County. Most recently, he achieved a permanent restraining order against an abusive spouse for a victim of domestic abuse, as well as orders of full physical and legal custody of the victim’s two young children. Mr. Behrens is a board member of the Legal Aid Society of Orange County and Community Legal Services (LASOC-CLS), a private non-profit that provides legal advice, counseling and representation to low income individuals.
See Michael Behrens Speak
Tuesday, May 7 | 11:50 am - 12:30 pm
Protecting Diversity in the Age of #Metoo
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