NOTE: This Trial Skills workshop is currently full. If you would like to be added to the waitlist, please email Lindsay Gray at

Immigration Court trials can be intimidating and scary, because they can be life-saving and life-changing events for our clients. Immigration Judges are people just like us, who make decisions based on persuasion, and presenting your best case can make all the difference. Whether you’ve been in front of an Immigration Judge for trial a few times, or you’ve never been in an Immigration Court before, join us to hone your trial skills.

VECINA and the International Academy of Trial Lawyers, in partnership with the Clinic at Sharma-Crawford Attorneys at Law, invite you to participate in this three-part series focusing on developing your trial skills in Immigration Court. While there will be a brief lecture period at the beginning of each session, the majority of the time will be dedicated to practicing the skills you need.

We will have a “practice” case for you to utilize if needed, but we strongly encourage you to bring your own case. Without the use of identifying information, bring us a real live case so the experts can talk you through developing your theory of the case, direct examination and storytelling, and opening statements and closing arguments. You can walk away feeling as prepared as possible, knowing you will present the best case you can for your client.

Sessions and Dates

Session 1: The Nuts & Bolts of an Immigration Court Trial /Developing Your Theory of the Case

October 7, 2021, 12:00 – 2:00 PM CST

In this first session, we will discuss the Nuts and Bolts of an Immigration Court Trial (called an Individual Calendar Hearing). What happens when? Should I sit or stand? How should I introduce myself? We will also discuss developing your theory and theme of your case, which is the foundation on which the rest of your work stands. After a brief lecture by faculty, we will break into small groups where you can discuss your fact pattern and begin to develop your theme and theory. This will set you up well for the second two sessions of the series.

Session 2: Direct Examination and Storytelling

November 4, 2021, 12:00 – 2:00 PM CST

Our second session will be dedicated to direct examination and story telling. Your client’s direct examination is the crux of your case, and telling their story is the most important thing you’ll do at trial. We’ll cover the basics of direct examination, tips for how to make it the most effective, and then once again break out into groups to work on developing and practicing an actual direct examination.

Session 3: Opening Statements and Closing Arguments

December 9, 2021, 12:00 – 2:00 PM CST

Our last session will cover opening statements and closing arguments. These are the moments where you get to persuade the judge to grant your case. We’ll discuss the difference between openings and closing, and how to use your theme, theory, client’s story and direct exam to tie everything together. In our small groups we’ll work on developing and practicing these so you can walk away knowing how all the pieces of trial fit together to make a winning case.

Pricing for All Three Sessions

Private Practitioners: $150

Nonprofit Attorneys/BIA Accredited Representatives: $125

Current Pro Bono Attorneys in VECINA’s Asylum Project: FREE

  • Please note that the Asylum Project is attorneys currently representing clients in defensive asylum proceedings, and not sponsors before ORR (this is the ReUnite Project). Unfortunately, at this time we are not offering free pricing for ReUnite volunteers unless they are also participating in the Asylum Project.


We will cap the series at 25 students.


This event is virtual.

CLE Credit

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

NOTE: This Trial Skills workshop is currently full. If you would like to be added to the waitlist, please email Lindsay Gray at