Skip to main content

My Swat Story: Joe Khan ’97

Joe Khan '97

Joe Khan ’97 (photo by Matt Roth of The Pivot Group)

He’s Living His Childhood Dream

Joe Khan ’97 is a nationally recognized trial and appellate lawyer who has litigated hundreds of cases in state and federal courts.

Growing up, he always knew he wanted to be a prosecutor.

“It’s a job where you’re an advocate,” he says. “You stand up for victims of crime but also protect the rights of the accused, and make sure the guilty are held to account and the innocent don’t suffer.”

Swarthmore Was a Perfect Fit

The son of a Muslim from Pakistan and a Catholic from Philly, Khan chose Swarthmore for its sense of mission and social justice—not to mention its myriad opportunities. The English literature and political science major served as editor of The Phoenix, a lifeguard, and a member of the rugby, football, and debate teams, and was the class speaker at Commencement.

“Swarthmore had the sort of personality that was a good fit for me,” he says. “It was a wonderful place.”

He Threw His Hat in the Ring

Khan has a lifelong commitment to public service. He is the coordinator of his law firm’s pro bono program in Philadelphia, is an active member of several nonprofit boards, and is a lecturer of law at the University of Pennsylvania.

In 2017, Khan ran for Philadelphia district attorney, and despite having no political background, he came in second in a seven-person race.

“It was nonetheless an amazing experience, coming out of nowhere to emerge with some wonderful support,” Khan says. “This campaign has really changed my life, and I’m very proud of the reception we got.”