Enhancing Your Client-Advocate Relationships: Navigating Literacy and Cultural Challenges When Serving Afghan Clients

Hosted on February 6, 2024, the training was delivered by Harriet Amelia Wessel, pro bono attorney volunteer with VECINA; Mary Ann McLean, passionate immigrant advocate and a Department of Justice Accredited Representative with VECINA; and, Kristen Nilsen, VECINA attorney.

When representing a newcomer client, you will need them to provide you with basic biographical data and details about life in their home country. Among Afghan newcomers, cultural and linguistic issues, lack of formal education, and low literacy can make it difficult for them to effectively share basic information, as well as more sensitive parts of their background with you. Additionally, you may find it challenging to convey to these clients why you need the information you are requesting.

This roundtable discussion will feature a conversation among experts in Afghan culture and literacy and the legal service provider client-advocate relationship. They will discuss how to address communication and literacy challenges to help you draw out the client’s story. You will learn strategies for communicating the requirements necessary for approval of a client’s case, as well as tips for eliciting information from the client to conduct an intake, fill out forms, draft a personal statement, and prepare for any required interview. Through this roundtable discussion, you will gain valuable insights and practice pointers for navigating this complex landscape. You will also have the opportunity to actively participate by asking questions of the panel of experts.

By the end of this webinar, you will be able to:

Name strategies for conducting efficient, culturally appropriate intakes for potential Afghan clients with low literacy levels;

Communicate more clearly with Afghan clients about the requirements for immigration benefits;

and ask linguistically accessible questions to gather information from Afghan clients in order to prepare their cases.