March 23, 2017 | By Elissa Rex
Arnold Shokouhi made the journey from revolutionary Iran to Cowboys Stadium
Published in 2017 Texas Rising Stars — April 2017
His name is Arnold; he immigrated to the U.S. at a young age; he was a winning bodybuilding competitor. Oh, he also got a J.D.
So not that Arnold.
Arnold Shokouhi, 35, a banking and mortgage attorney and managing partner at McCathern in Dallas, came to the U.S. as an infant. His mother, Mahin Resapour, fled Iran shortly after the 1979 Iranian revolution.
“She literally escaped through tunnels and back roads through northern Iran, Iraq, into Turkey,” Shokouhi relates. “We got put in Istanbul for a year and a half to get our papers straight. [They] put us in a small town in Italy outside of Rome called Ladispoli. After about a year in Italy, they moved us to the States.”
Resapour settled with her three sons in the college town of Austin, where she eventually opened a hair salon.
“We believe in academics very strongly in my family,” says Shokouhi. “Having three boys, she thought that would be a good place.” Describing his “non-existent” father, Shokouhi paraphrases former president Barack Obama: “I was shaped more by the absence of him than the actual man.”
Instead, says Shokouhi, his brothers—who are significantly older than he—“were great father figures in my life. They were the two best dads I ever could have had.”
As for his mother: “I couldn’t have done any of this without her,” Shokouhi says simply.
Attending Southern Methodist University as part of the Hunt Leadership Scholars Program, Shokouhi entered and won the university’s storied “Mr. SMU” fitness bodybuilding competition after an intense few months of working out and dieting. “It was something I’d wanted to do since I was a freshman. I set a goal to win it by my senior year, and I did.
“Ever since I was young, I always thought you put hard work and dedication into whatever you do,” says Shokouhi. “Be the most prepared person in the room, and you’ll be successful.”
Shortly after graduating from Michigan State University College of Law with a focus in corporate law, Shokouhi was representing a client in a trademark case against Zales and its advertising firm, when he was put in touch with Levi McCathern by a mutual friend. They joined forces on the case, and in 2008 Shokouhi joined McCathern’s firm.
One of the firm’s most well-known clients is Jerry Jones, and Shokouhi has been involved with a number of cases related to the Cowboys, including a 2010 dispute over non-payment of luxury-suite leases held by 10 individual businesses.
“It’s a really interesting dynamic,” says Shokouhi, a longtime Cowboys fan. “You’re balancing the fact that these people are fans, yet they broke their commitment to fulfilling their obligation under an agreement. You do not want to disenfranchise what are essentially fans of the team. Normally if you’re suing someone, you really don’t want to have anything to do with each other as the lawsuit persists. But obviously, people are pretty passionate about their Cowboys here in Texas.”
One such Cowboys fan is Shokouhi’s mother. Shokouhi has fond childhood memories of watching the Cowboys with his mother every Thanksgiving.
Shortly after he made partner, they watched a game again—but this time from the firm’s suite at AT&T Stadium.
At one point during the game, Resapour touched her son on the shoulder and told him how proud she was of all that he had accomplished. “That’s the kind of thing you work hard for, to give your mother something like that,” says Shokouhi.
Today, Resapour also lives in Dallas to be close to Shokouhi and his 5-year-old daughter, Azara. Shokouhi and his wife, Alison, were married at a 19th-century French castle on an estate dating back to the Middle Ages. For the last few years, Resapour has attended Cowboys games with Shokouhi, his wife and their daughter.
“I think one of the hardest things to do in life is to find what your passion is,” says Shokouhi. “My two passions are practicing law and being a father. I’ve been fortunate to do both.”