This hands-on one day CLE will dig into the skills needed to effectively and persuasively tell your client’s story in Immigration Court. We will discuss the importance of storytelling and developing your case theme and theory in asylum cases, as well as practice witness preparation and direct examination. The day will involve some faculty lectures on these skills, but will be coupled with breakout sessions where attendees practice and receive direct feedback from conference faculty.

About the Event

  • 9:00-9:10: Introduction and Welcome
  • 9:10-9:40: The Importance of Storytelling in Immigration Court
  • 9:40-10:00: A View from the Bench – Why Storytelling Matters to Immigration Judges
  • 10:00-10:10: Break
  • 10:10 -11:30: Breakout Session
    • Fleshing out your good facts and bad facts
    • Developing your theme and theory of the case
    • What questions do you have for your client
    • Foundational scenes
  • 11:30-12:00: Break for lunch
  • 12:00-12:30: Preparing Your Witness
  • 12:30–1:00: Developing Your Direct Examination
  • 1:00-1:10: Break
  • 1:10-2:10: Meet with our witness and prepare for direct examination
  • 2:10-3:00: direct examination practice
  • 3:00-3:10: Break
  • 3:10-4:00 Direct Examination Demonstrations
  • 4:00-4:45: Direct examination practice
  • 4:45-4:50: Break
  • 4:50-5:00: Closing remarks

Private Practitioners: $350

Nonprofit Attorneys/BIA Accredited Representatives: $250

We will cap the event at 25 students.

This event will be held in person at the University of Texas at Austin School of Law, located at:

727 East Dean Keeton Street

Austin, TX 78705

CLE credit pending approval. CLE credit will be approved in the state of Texas, and the Uniform Application and Supporting Documents will be provided to those outside of TX who wish to apply for credit.

Sign Up for the Workshop


Meet the Faculty

Karen C. Burgess

Karen C. Burgess is a trial lawyer, Board Certified in Civil Trial Law by the Texas Board of Specialization. Her practice includes trade secrets, oil and gas, contract, real estate, securities, partnership and fiduciary litigation—really any commercial litigation.Thomson Reuters has named Karen a “Top 10 Super Lawyer in Texas.” Chambers ranks Karen as a Band One Commercial Trial Lawyer. Lawdragon has repeatedly named Karen one of The 500 Leading Lawyers in America, and The Best Lawyers in America® (BL Rankings) lists Karen and her firm for Commercial Litigation.

Karen is a fellow of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers, the American College of Trial Lawyers and the International Society of Barristers. Karen recently delivered the Dean’s Address for the Academy—Truth or Consequence: Protecting Justice and the Rule of Law Against a Crisis of Deception—and is currently the Academy’s President-Elect. Karen is a member of the College’s State Committee. After two terms as the elected treasurer of ABOTA’s National Board of Directors, Karen is currently an elected Trustee of the national ABOTA Foundation, and an appointee to ABOTA National’s Executive Committee. In 2021, she served as President of Austin’s ABOTA Chapter. Karen was a faculty member for the ABOTA National Trial College at Yale Law School in 2018 and 2022. Karen is also a member of the American Law Institute and an Honorary Overseas Member of the Commercial Bar Association of the UK and Wales (COMBAR). Karen enjoyed the honor of co-chairing the 2019 State Bar of Texas Annual Meeting and introducing keynote speeches by iconic newsman Dan Rather and acclaimed author Wil Haygood. Stephanie and Bill Whitehurst named a University of Texas School of Law Public Interest Fellowship in her honor, and the University of Texas School of Law named her the 2018 Alumni Mentor of the Year. Karen was the 2018-2019 President of the Lloyd Lochridge American Inn of Court, and she has served as a co-chair of the Austin nominating committee for the Texas Bar Foundation. In addition to delivering her Dean’s Address around the nation, Karen is a frequent speaker on business torts, the Uniform Trade Secrets Act and the Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act as well as other litigation topics. Karen has also conducted on-stage interviews for the International Academy of Trial Lawyer’s annual meeting and TEX-ABOTA’s Santa Fe conference. COMBAR invited her as one of the 6 participants in its annual debate, which was on the efficacy of the trial process for commercial matters.

Karen is active in the community. She is a past President of the People’s Community Clinic Foundation Board, and she remains a board member. Karen has served on the Foundation Board for the Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders, has done committee work for the Paramount Theatre. She is an elder of Westlake Presbyterian Church. Before practicing law in Austin, Karen earned her B.A. in Economics, Spanish, and Policy Studies from Rice University—where she had the opportunity to study at theUniversidad Catolica in Valparaiso, Chile. Karen is married to a commercial transactions attorney, Brian Burgess. Karen and Brian are the proud parents of two college students.

Dicky Grigg

Dicky Grigg has been a VECINA volunteer since early 2020 and is a wonderful advocate for his VECINA clients. Dicky is a personal injury and has handled more than 1,000 cases. He’s tried over 200 cases in 40 counties throughout Texas. In 2019, Dicky was inducted as a Legal Legend by the Litigation Section of the Texas Bar. The Texas Chapter of the American Board of Trial Lawyers selected him as Trial Lawyer of the Year in 2006. The Capital Area Trial Lawyers has given Mr. Grigg its highest award for commitment to the law, his clients, and public service. The Austin Bar Association has recognized his accomplishments by honoring him with the Distinguished Lawyer Award. Dicky has served as president of the Texas Chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates and the President of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers.

Elissa Steglich

Elissa Steglich is Clinical Professor and Co-Director of the Immigration Clinic at the University of Texas School of Law. In over 20 years advocating for immigrant rights, she has provided direct representation to asylum seekers, immigrant children, and immigrant survivors of violence and human trafficking. She has participated in asylum and immigrant detention-related advocacy and litigation. Professor Steglich regularly presents at scholarly conferences, public events, and professional trainings.

Professor Steglich previously served as Legal Services Director at the American Friends Service Committee’s Immigrant Rights Program in Newark, New Jersey. She worked with the National Immigrant Justice Center and conducted extensive field research on trafficking in Latin America and the Caribbean for the International Human Rights Law Initiative of DePaul College of Law.

She serves on the advisory committee of the ABA Children’s Immigration Law Academy and on the Amicus Committee of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. She received a BA in English from Haverford College and was awarded a JD with Honors from the University of Texas School of Law.

Jacklyn Garcia

Jackie is a native New Yorker whose friends will tell you that they knew she was destined to be an immigration attorney before she even knew it. In high school, their diverse circle of friends – referred to fondly by their parents as the United Nations – was suddenly confronted with a stark, arbitrary divide; those who could get driver’s licenses and fill out the FAFSA, and those who would not. Then, everyone began buzzing about what President Obama might do for Dreamers, and her path was revealed. She studied Sociology and Spanish at Quinnipiac University, focusing on issues facing immigrants and women, and began working at a refugee resettlement agency.

Upon graduating in 2013, Jackie relocated to Austin as an AmeriCorps member at Casa Marianella, a shelter for immigrants and asylum seekers, and from there fell in love with the Austin immigrant community and its allies. In 2016, she joined Lincoln-Goldfinch Law to obtain experience as a legal assistant and volunteered at the Karnes detention center and citizenship and TPS clinics. She returned to New York to attend the City University of New York School of Law in 2017 and organized credible fear interview training and volunteer trips to the Berks, PA and Dilley, TX family detention centers with students, professors, and alums. Jackie graduated from law school in 2020 and relocated permanently to Austin with her husband and their dog. She is now an associate attorney at Lincoln-Goldfinch Law, predominantly working on deportation defense and humanitarian visa cases.

Erich Straub

Erich C. Straub is an attorney concentrating in family and business immigration as well as deportation defense. He has been licensed since 1994. In the area of immigration law, he has been listed in Best Lawyers in America since 2006 and in Super Lawyers since 2009.  He was chairperson of the Wisconsin Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and served on the AILA Board of Governors from 2007 to 2009.

Prior to focusing his practice on immigration, Mr. Straub was a criminal defense attorney for almost a decade. During that time, he successfully defended hundreds of cases in state and federal court. Because of this prior experience, he has a unique combination of experience in criminal and immigration law. He is recognized by many of Wisconsin’s best criminal defense attorneys as the foremost expert in the state on the immigration consequences of criminal convictions.

Mr. Straub has spoken to audiences throughout the U.S. and has appeared on local radio and television on the topic of immigration. He has worked to improve laws that affect immigrants on both the state and federal level and has traveled to Madison, Wisconsin and Washington DC to meet with elected officials regarding immigration issues. In 2008, the Milwaukee Business Journal described him as a “national leader on the federal immigration issue.”

Sue Roy

Susan G. Roy began her legal career through the Department of Justice Attorney General Honors Program, as an Attorney Advisor at the Board of Immigration Appeals. She became an Assistant Chief Counsel and National Security Attorney for Immigration and Customs Enforcement. From 2008-2010, she served as an Immigration Judge in Newark, NJ. Sue then entered private practice and is now the owner of a law firm which specializes in complex immigration cases.

Sue is the Immediate Past Chair of NJ Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), serves on the AILA National EOIR/ICE Committee, and is a past Chair of the NJ State Bar Association (NJSBA) Immigration Law Section. She is currently the Secretary for the Municipal Court Practice Section and serves on the NJSBA Legislative Committee.

Sue is a member of the Round Table of Former Immigration Judges, which has authorized over 60 amici curiae briefs in immigration cases before the Supreme Court, the Circuit Courts and cases certified to the U.S. Attorney General. In 2019, she, along with the other Round Table members, was a recipient of the AILA Advocacy Award, and in 2017, she was awarded the NJ Federal Bar Association’s Pro Bono Advocacy Award. 

In addition, Sue has been a speaker and/or moderator on CLE panels for AILA national, regional and local conferences, as well as for the NJSBA and NJICLE; NYSBA; Federal Bar Association; has been a guest speaker at numerous laws schools; and has testified before the NJ State Supreme Court, and the NJ Senate and Assembly on immigration and criminal issues. She serves on the Board of Trustees for the Latin American Legal and Education Defense Fund; Haven House, Inc., and is an attorney mentor for the American Immigration Council. Sue has also authored two articles for the NJ Law Journal: Walk/Don’t Walk: How the Legalization of Marijuana in New Jersey Will Affect Non-Citizens, Oct. 2018; and How the Sins of the Father Can Affect a Child’s Claim to Citizenship, Feb. 2017. 

Sue is also a Faculty Member of the Immigration Court Trial Advocacy College, in Kansas City, MI; a Faculty Member of the Practicing Law Institute’s 55th Annual Immigration and Naturalization Institute, in New York, New York; and is an Adjunct Professor at Rutgers University Law School, Newark, where she teaches Asylum Law. 

Michael Sharma-Crawford

W. Michael Sharma-Crawford is an aggressive litigator and compassionate advocate of fairness in immigration law. As a former law enforcement officer, Michael has a deeper understanding of the challenges of immigration law enforcement, detainment issues and litigation. Michael frequently handles complex immigration proceedings where current statutes require greater experience and understanding. 

Michael frequently lectures at the AILA national and mid-year conferences. He has also lectured about immigration law to the Kansas and Missouri Bar Associations, and Kansas and Missouri Public Defenders. Michael was one of the attorneys who was counsel on the successful Supreme Court Appeal, Mellouli v. Lynch, 135 S. Ct. 1980 (2015). He has successfully argued other cases before the Circuit Courts of Appeal and has handled many successful matters before the Board of Immigration Appeals. 

He is admitted to the District Courts of Kansas and Missouri and the Federal Appeals Court for the Second, Seventh, Eighth and Tenth Circuits. He is also a member of the American Immigration Lawyer’s Association, Kansas Bar Association, Missouri Bar Association, Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Association. Michael serves as ICE Liasion for the local AILA Chapter. His former service includes the Board of Directors for Kansas Legal Services, the Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Foundation, the Advisory Committee for the ABA Commission on Immigration and as a member of the USCIS Field Operations Liaison Committee for AILA.

Genevra Alberti

Genevra Alberti is the sole dedicated attorney at The Clinic at Sharma-Crawford Attorneys at Law, which is a nonprofit removal defense organization in Kansas City, Missouri, specializing in representing those in removal proceedings in the Kansas City Immigration Court. She has held this position since The Clinic opened in January 2012, focusing her practice solely on removal defense. Genevra has presented on a variety of immigration-related topics at multiple national and local conferences, and has guest-lectured on asylum law at Washburn School of Law and the University of Kansas School of Law. She also helps coordinate The Clinic’s annual Immigration Court Trial Advocacy College held every year in the Kansas City area, and is a contributing author to the AILA Litigation Toolbox, 5th Ed. (2016) and 6th Ed. (2019). Genevra currently serves as Chair of the Missouri-Kansas AILA Chapter and as a chapter EOIR liaison.

She received her undergraduate degree with honors from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and graduated cum laude from Washington University in St. Louis School of Law. During her time at Wash U., Genevra participated in the school’s Transnational Law Program, enabling her to spend a summer interning at the European Council on Refugees & Exiles (ECRE) in Brussels, Belgium and a semester studying abroad in Trento, Italy.

Stan Garnett

Co-founding partner at Garnett Powell Maximon Barlow, Stan Garnett, focuses his practice on complex litigation at the state and federal level. He is well-known for providing a solutions-based approach, from arbitration to litigation.

With decades of experience on some of Colorado’s most high-profile cases and beyond, Stan is a reliable, steady hand for all types of clients facing high-stakes litigation. He’s an expert at leading a team of lawyers to help clients, whether through the court system or less formal resolution.

Stan’s goal is to help resolve disputes quickly and efficiently so that his clients can focus on the success of their businesses. Stan was elected and re-elected district attorney for Colorado’s 20th Judicial District in Boulder. During his tenure as DA, he improved community protection and successfully prosecuted:

·  Economic crimes
·  Crimes in the immigrant and homeless communities
·  Homicide cold cases
·  Sexual assault cases

His willingness to take cases to trial improved relations with local law enforcement and the community. Stan is a previous President of the Colorado District Attorneys Council and has served on the National District Attorneys Association Board of Directors for several years.

After his tenure as a DA, he returned to his national commercial litigation firm. There, he focused on developing another generation of litigators while representing the interests of commercial and complex criminal defense clients in trials across the United States.

Elina Santana

Attorney Santana is Santana Rodriguez Law, P.A.’s  lead Immigration Law Practitioner.  She focuses her practice on representing foreign clients in affirmative petitions with U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (“USCIS”), as well as providing direct representation at interviews and in deportation proceedings before the U.S. Immigration Courts.  She handles Family-based and Marriage-based Residency, Naturalization, Acquired and Derivative Citizenship, Deportation Defense (including Asylum, Cancellation of Removal, and Waivers), and Appeals for previously denied cases.  Attorney Santana has also represented many detained clients in bond proceedings and reasonable/credible fear interviews. Furthermore, Attorney Santana has successfully argued for Stays of Deportation for clients with humanitarian reasons why they cannot return to their countries.

She is dedicated to representing the immigrant community nationwide and travels often for her clients’ cases.  She has represented clients in courts nationwide, including Miami, FL; Orlando, FL; Hartford, CT; New York, NY; Buffalo, NY; Charlotte, NC; San Antonio, TX; Harlingen, TX; Atlanta, GA; Cleveland, OH; San Francisco, CA; Newark, NJ; Philadelphia, PA; Tacoma, WA; and Kansas City, MO, among others.

Craig Peters

Craig M. Peters has been a trial attorney for over twenty-five years and loves fighting for the underdog. His current practice focuses primarily on cases involving wrongful death or catastrophic life- or career-changing injuries. However, Craig loves a good challenge and has been asked to handle trials including consumer protections, civil rights, landlord-tenant, divorce, mold contamination, and employment wage & hour and discrimination cases.

He has been able to obtain verdicts that are the largest in the United States for his clients, including: personal injury, noneconomic-only jury verdict ($40.0M), which is also the largest verdict for someone who qualifies as an elder (78 years old) civil rights non-injury wrongful detention ($8.25M) landlord-tenant constructive eviction ($9.0M).

Craig has been recognized for his trial skills with invitations to membership in the American Board of Trial Attorneys (ABOTA), the International Academy of Trial Lawyers (IATL), the American College of Trial Lawyers (ACTL) and the International Society of Barristers (ISOB). He has been awarded CAOC’s California Consumer Attorney of the Year.

Craig’s law career started as a criminal defense attorney (13 yrs) where he tried nearly every type of case. His last three years of criminal defense was as the Director of Training for the Office of the Public Defender in San Francisco. His transition to civil work began with representing victims of asbestos exposure at trial throughout the State of California.

Craig is a past President of the Consumer Attorneys of California and his favorite superhero is Underdog.

Rekha Sharma-Crawford

Rekha Sharma-Crawford is an expert in the field of immigration law. She has taken on many complex, high-profile cases and focuses on removal defense issues, trial advocacy and federal litigation. In 2023, Rekha was elected the first South Asian American Secretary for the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). She is currently on the Board of SevenDays, a Kansas City nonprofit whose mission is to spread kindness through education.

In 2023, Rekha was a member of the AILA Amicus Committee when the committee was awarded AILA’s Jack Wasserman Memorial Award. In 2021, Rekha had previously been nationally recognized by AILA by being awarded the Edith Lowenstein Memorial Award, for excellence in advancing the practice of immigration law. In 2018, the Kansas Bar Association honored her with the Courageous Attorney Award, for having displayed exceptional courage in the face of adversity.

She is also the author of her children’s books, Aaliyah the Brave, Empowering Children Coping with Immigration Enforcement, released in 2022 and her new book, Finding Freedom, Empowering Young Survivors of Human Trafficking, released in 2023. The net profits from the sale of the books are divided between 2 nonprofits: The Clinic at Sharma-Crawford, which provides removal
defense to indigent individuals in the Kansas City Immigration Court, and the National Immigration Litigation Alliance.

Jeff Edwards

Jeff founded Edwards Law, a boutique trial firm that represents victims of catastrophic injury, civil rights violations, medical malpractice, defective products, and consumer fraud. Over the last several years, Jeff has achieved numerous landmark civil rights injunctions and settlements. Following a ten-day trial in which he and his firm proved the Texas Department of Justice violated inmates’ rights to humane prison conditions, the State agreed to permanently air condition the Wallace Pack Unit and reform the way it housed prisoners with heat sensitive disabilities. And after filing two class action lawsuits, Jeff and his team forced the State to offer Hepatitis C medications to its inmate population and to every Medicaid beneficiary in the State. The settlements resulted in thousands of Texans obtaining a cure for their disease and the provision of more than 100 million dollars of life saving medications. And In 2021, the firm won a preliminary junction ordering the State to implement numerous Covid 19 protections that the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals determined saved the lives of countless prisoners.

Jeff is considered one of the top personal injury lawyers in Texas and takes great pride in helping those who have been hurt. He has some of Texas’ highest known police misconduct, wrongful imprisonment and jail death settlements and has achieved multi-million dollar recoveries against automotive companies, electronic gate manufacturers, investment banks and technology companies.

As a result, Texas Monthly has named Jeff a Texas Super Lawyer since 2008 and honored him as one of the top 50 lawyers in Central Texas. Jeff has been listed in Best Lawyers in America for more than a decade and the Capital Area Trial Lawyer’s Association named him its trial lawyer of the year in 2019. He has twice received the Texas Civil Rights Project’s excellence in litigation award and was honored by the University of Texas for his contributions to the public good.

Jeff is a member of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers, a fellow in the American Board of Trial Advocates, a barrister in the Lloyd Lochridge Inns of Court, and is a former Commissioner on the Texas Access to Justice Commission and President of Austin’s pro bono organization, Volunteer Legal Services. For the last four years, Jeff has taught civil rights litigation to students at the University of Texas School of Law. And just this year, the Austin Bar awarded Jeff its annual award for community service excellence for his work in causing the Austin Police Department to stop its use of dangerous bean bag shotguns.

In addition to his litigation success and teaching, Jeff and his firm sponsor numerous charities and pride themselves on giving back to the Austin community that has provided him so much. Jeff served on the Board of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation for six years and, as the parent of a type one diabetic, continues to be very involved with the organization. He considers his advocacy work and financial contributions to fund research to be among he and his family’s most meaningful contributions to the community.

Jeff is married to a wonderful woman, Allison, who is also an attorney and who currently serves on several non-profit Boards. They have three terrific children, Bering, a sophomore at Brown, Luke, a freshman at the University of Texas, and Gracie, a 9th grader at St. Andrews in Austin.