Frequently Asked Questions - Spanish for Lawyers

Who is this course designed for?

Spanish for Lawyers is designed for legal professionals who want to learn or improve their spoken Spanish skills.  While many language courses teach you the basics, the focus of this course is on practical vocabulary for the legal professional.  The emphasis is on immigration law though the skills you will learn readily translate to a variety of practices, including family law.  Through our unique partnership with the ABBA migrant shelter, you will have multiple opportunities to put your lessons into practice immediately, speaking with Central American migrants making the arduous journey north.

Do I need to be a lawyer to participate?

No.  There is no requirement to be a licensed or practicing attorney to participate.

The course is designed for legal professionals with an interest in improving their oral communication skills.  We will offer CLE credits during the week.  If you choose not to participate in the courses, we encourage you to use the free time to practice the day’s lessons.

What is the migrant shelter and what will we do there?

We have a unique relationship with ABBA A.C., a registered non-profit migrant shelter providing humanitarian assistance in neighboring Celaya.  Through this mutually-beneficial partnership, we will provide pro bono advice as we are able to as well as contribute to the shelter’s migrant data collection project.  In return, students will gain experience and confidence to put the course lessons into real life practice.

Why do we go to the migrant center in Celaya?

Celaya sits at a strategic crossroads for migrants.  Mexico's two train lines intersect here.  Migrants riding "La Bestia" must choose which part of the US they will try to enter:  either northwest towards Mexicali, Nogales, or El Paso, or northeast towards Laredo or Brownsville.  Thousands of migrants pass through Celaya monthly, and many of them stay at ABBA house to rest, eat, and recover from their arduous journey.

Do I need to already speak some Spanish?

There is no language prerequisite to participate in the language learning adventure.  To get the most benefit from the course, we recommend some previous practice in the basics of Spanish.  A few weeks playing the fun and free app Duolingo will help.  

What CLEs will be offered?

CLE credits in introductory immigration law, asylum law and credible fear interviews, and hot topics in immigration law are pending.  When you register, please inform us where you will be seeking credit and we will make all attempts to ensure you get credit in your state.

How do I get to San Miguel de Allende?

The closest airports to San Miguel are Leon (BJX) and Queretaro (QRO), both approximately 1 - 1.5 hours away.  United Airlines has multiple daily flights from Houston, American flies from Atlanta, and Delta flies from Los Angeles.  Mexico City (MEX) is also well-served by multiple US and Mexican airlines, including Aeromexico and Southwest.  

Your program fee includes round trip shuttle transport from BJX and QRO.  

There are shuttles, private drivers, and luxury buses available from Mexico City and we can help you coordinate your ground transportation should you fly into there.  To search for low-cost airfares, we recommend the following websites:  Kayak, Skyscanner, Skiplagged, and budget airlines Southwest Airlines, Volaris, and Interjet.

Is it safe?

San Miguel de Allende is a popular tourist destination, attracting millions of visitors from around the world.  But is it safe?  US State Department travel warnings and and news reports of crime in Mexico make travelers nervous to consider it as a vacation destination.  However, Mexico is a large country and most of the reported crime takes place in cities far from San Miguel de Allende.  The State Department’s "Level 2" advisory tells travelers to "exercise increased caution in Mexico" and explicitly requests that U.S citizens avoid the Mexican states of Colima, Guerrero,  Michoacán, Sinaloa, and Tamaulipas.  San Miguel is located in Guanajuato state and bears no additional travel warnings.  Risk in one part of the country shouldn’t preclude travel to another part.  San Miguel is home to many foreigners - including families with children - who feel safer here than in the US.  That said, there is crime in San Miguel and visitors should use the same common sense safety measures as they would anywhere else in the world.

Can I bring my family?

Adult partners are welcome to share your room and will be charged a nominal fee of $700 for accommodation and meals (breakfasts and lunches, dinners not included).  The partner rate also includes cultural activities but does not include language instruction or other professional development activities.  We are happy to to arrange separate language instruction or other activities such as cooking classes or local tours to hot springs, markets, or archeological sites.  Children are welcome on a case by case basis depending on accommodation availability.

What about the food? Can you accommodate my dietary restrictions?

Breakfast and lunch, prepared by our in-house chef, is included Monday through Friday.  Breakfasts will include fresh fruits and juices, bread, yogurt and granola, tea and coffee. Lunch is the main meal of the day in Mexico and will be substantial, hot and freshly prepared.  Please contact us if you have dietary restrictions, so that we can accommodate.

What free time is there?

Check in is on Saturday,  with a welcome dinner on Saturday evening.  You are invited to join a walking orientation tour of our beautiful host city on Sunday morning.  The rest of the day is yours. Scheduled activities will occupy much of your time Monday through Friday.  Class hours are 9:00am - 12pm, followed by formal program activities in the afternoon.  Evenings are yours to discover the magic of San Miguel de Allende: watch the sun set on a rooftop bar, dine in one of 350 restaurants, grab a taco from our favorite nighttime taco stand, or simply sit in the central plaza soaking up the ambience serenaded by the wandering mariachi. (Yes, there really are wandering mariachi.)

Can I really learn Spanish in a week?

No.  It takes years of practice to truly learn a new language, so unless you already have a foundation in a romance language, you likely won’t leave our program chattering away fluently in Spanish.  

What you will gain though is confidence to speak Spanish as a result of many opportunities to practice.  The largest hurdle to speaking Spanish is your own inhibition and fear of failure.  We will help you overcome this fear and give you tools to use in your own practice.

I am very interested but can't attend the offered course dates.  Will you have other workshops?

With a minimum of 4 participants, we are able to offer alternate course dates.  Please contact us if you are interested in an alternate course date, extending your trip, or join our mailing list to be in the know for future course dates.

I really want to learn Spanish. Can I study longer? 

If there is enough interest, we can add a second residential week to the course.  Please contact us for information on how to extend your studies. Because language learning requires active practice, if you wish to continue your studies but can’t move to Mexico, we offer post-course remote classes via Skype with our experienced faculty.  Please contact us for details.