Lauren Cusitello is the Director of the ABA Immigration Justice Project, where she started as the organization’s first-ever Legal Director in 2019. Lauren began her legal career as an Assistant Public Defender in the Miami-Dade County Public Defender’s Office. She then returned to her hometown of Sacramento, California, to serve as an Assistant Federal Defender in the Eastern District of California. In Sacramento, Lauren also co-founded the McGeorge School of Law’s Federal Defender Clinic, one of the nation’s few federal criminal defense clinics for law students. Lauren moved to San Diego in 2010 to work as a Trial Attorney at Federal Defenders of San Diego and—with the exception of a two-year adventure in Japan—has lived and worked in San Diego ever since.
With her experience as a defender in both criminal and immigration courts, Lauren is a frequent panelist and educator on topics related to the intersection of criminal and immigration law. Lauren has trained the San Diego County Public Defender’s Office, the Arizona State Bar, the National Qualified Representative Program network, and the Federal Bar Association. She is a regular speaker at the local, state, and national level for the American Immigration Lawyers Association, and she is and instructor of the Criminal Grounds of Removal module of AILA University’s Removal Defense Course.
Lauren graduated with honors from Princeton University with an A.B. in Politics, and she graduated from the New York University School of Law with honors. She is licensed to practice law in California and has been admitted to practice before the Eastern and Southern Districts of California, before the Executive Office of Immigration Review, and at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.