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Photo of David S. Rugendorf

David S. Rugendorf

Partner - los angeles


The colors of the flags of almost 200 countries waving in the breeze, in front of the UN building on a sunny but brisk spring day, captivated the attention of 11-year-old David Rugendorf, then visiting his aunt and uncle in New York. Hope for the future, the promise of peace, the bustle of commerce and the smells of the East River – exhilarating New York all aswirl in his young mind as he closed his eyes and heard the tolling of the Japanese Peace Bell, rung only twice each year.  The reverberating  call of the great bell overtook the incessant honking of taxis to herald the renewal of spring.  Twenty years later and 2,000 miles away on a warmer day, those images - alive and awash in color, were recreated in David’s memory as he entered the Rose Bowl to watch the 1996 World Cup.  Flags, color, memory and motion came alive to music as soccer brings the world together, and to David, brings it all back home.  This is the “beautiful game” which influences his life on various levels. 

According to David, soccer unites the world in many ways.  It is a game of only 17 rules, but a lot more between the lines.  Soccer translates to every language and unites all countries. When attending a match or watching one on television, people from all over share in the same event though little else may bind them.  You don’t have to speak any particular language; all you need is passion.  As an Immigration law attorney, David works with people from all over the world, uniting them and passing them the ball as they score their goals.  His global outlook and natural interest in different cultures aids him in representing diverse employers and individuals from every corner of the Earth. 

David continues to participate in “the beautiful game” of soccer in his free time by coaching, managing and refereeing youth teams, which allows him to better know his community and, with the echoes of the Peace Bell forever tintinnabulating in his mind, connects him to people all over the world.


Legal Expertise

David Rugendorf practices immigration and nationality law, representing employers, entrepreneurs and individuals in administrative petitions to governmental agencies. Representative industries served include entertainment and media, technology, food and beverage, fashion and apparel, commercial airlines, sports, museums and private foundations, among others. David counsels his international clients with regard to travel and global mobility issues related to admission to the United States.  He advises his clients with regard to minimizing negative immigration consequences of criminal convictions and other grounds of inadmissibility to the United States.  David practices before federal courts and administrative tribunals in deportation defense matters both at the trial and appellate level.

Representative Matters

  • Successfully managed litigation against government agencies to force adjudication on unnecessarily delayed immigration matters.
  • As a pro bono matter, prepared and expedited permanent residency and work authorization applications for legal services agency on behalf of foreign attorney whom the agency brought to the United States to manage Holocaust survivors reparations project.
  • Managed large-volume visa and immigration strategies for large technology, telecommunications, and manufacturing companies.
  • Procured visas and green cards for directors, actors, cinematographers, and “below-the-line” talent for major Hollywood studios and independent film producers.
  • Obtained visas for athletes from a wide range of sports including boat and auto racing, motocross, and equestrian event competitors and trainers.
  • Facilitated transfers of multinational corporate executives and managers.
  • Successfully assisted foreign business owners and high ranking executives in admission to the U.S. despite potentially disqualifying criminal convictions.
  • Successful defense of deportation cases in immigration courts.
  • Secured visas for outstanding researchers in medical, aerospace, and pharmaceutical industries.

Reported Decisions

  • People v. Granado (1994) 22 Cal. App. 4th 194
  • People v. Sierra (1995) 37 Cal. App. 4th 1690

Honors & Awards

  • Wiley W. Manuel Pro Bono Certificate, State Bar of California (2009)
  • "Top 5% of lawyers in Southern California," Southern California Super Lawyers (2005)

Professional, Business and civic Affiliations

  • American Immigration Lawyers Association
  • Volunteer Attorney, Bet Tzedek Legal Services 
  • Volunteer Attorney, Catholic Legal Immigration Network
  • Volunteer Coach, Mentor and Referee, American Youth Soccer Association
  • Associate Editor, Canada-U.S. Business Immigration Handbook by Joseph C. Grasmick (Carswell Thomson Professional Publishing, 1999)
  • Former volunteer, Koreh L.A.
  • Former Volunteer Attorney, Program for Torture Victims
  • Former Volunteer Attorney, Catholic Legal Immigration Network

Other Career Experience

  • Deputy Public Defender/Alternate Public Defender, Fresno, California (1992-1994)
  • Private practice, Immigration law (1994-1998)


Events & Speaking Engagements


  • California, 1990
  • Illinois, 1991
  • U.S. District Court
  •    Central District of California, 1994
  •    Eastern District of California, 1994
  •    Northern District of California, 1990
  •    Southern District of California, 1994
  • U.S. Court of Appeal, 1990
  •    Ninth Circuit
  • U.S. Supreme Court, 1994


University of California, Los Angeles, Post Graduate Studies in Entertainment Administration, 1998

University of Southern California, Post Graduate Studies in Immigration Law, 1996

University of Michigan Law School, J.D., 1990

University of Wisconsin, B.A., 1987; with Honors; Phi Eta Sigma Honor Society

Sears Roebuck Congressional Fellow, 1986


  • Spanish
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