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General News Thu, 21 Nov 2002

First African law firm for Worchester. Massachusetts

A NEW law firm which seeks to help African immigrants in the United States has been opened in Worcester, Massachusetts.

The firm, the first of its kind in the Worcester township would be managed by five reputable and well- renowned attorneys.

They are Messrs Alfred Kwame Taylor from Ghana, Osahon Pius Airewele and Kenneth C. Onyema from Nigeria, Ainsworth O. Jones, from Jamaica and Ms Jill C. Shedd from the USA.

The Worcester office will also serve Shrewsbury, Fitchburg, Leominster, Oxford and Aurban residents.

Worcester, the second largest city in Massachussetts, boasts of a large African presence, most of the immigrants coming from Kenya, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria, Somalia, Zimbabwe, Mali,Cote D'Ivoire, Benin, and Cameroun. As the population grows , there has been a sharp rise in the demand for goods and services which are African-centered.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Alfred Taylor acknowledged the growth of the African community in Massachusetts , hence the need to establish a law firm that would be responsive to their legal needs.

According to Taylor, the group manages other offices at Cambridge near Boston and Lowell, catering for the ever growing immigrants' populace in the eastern part of Massachusetts.

Osahon Pius Airewele, an attorney, said although all the five lawyers would be working together, each one has a specialty.

Airewele said the group would be handling civil, immigration, accidents, criminal, insurance, family law, deportation petition , company cases, among others.

He called on Africans in the Massachusetts area not to hesitate to contact any of them in times of need.

Kenneth Onyema, who also holds a degree in engineering, would be handling cases on intellectual property.

Onyema said all the lawyers in the firm had worked with different companies in different capacities before coming together to establish the law firm, pointing out that with the experience acquired from their previous engagements, they are well armed to handle various cases.

Ainsworth Jones, a Jamaican, who is the firm's visiting attorney told the gathering that it is easy to interact and work with people who have the same cultural beliefs, and that explains why he joined the firm.

Jones said he had wanted to become an accountant but was motivated to read law because he realized that a great number of Africans and African Americans needed legal assistance.

Ms. Jill Shedd , the only white attorney among the four blacks in the firm, said she feels comfortable working with the group.

Shedd, who also holds a degree in computer science from the University of Massachusetts, would be handling engineering-related cases.

She said after working with the firm on part-time basis for a year, she decided to work full time due to the confidence her colleagues have reposed in her.

Gladys Acheampong, a Ghanaian resident in Worcester , commended the lawyers for opening an African law office in Worcester.

This, she said , would alleviate the burden of clients who would have to travel from Worcester County to other areas for legal services

Source: PAUL AWORTWI-MENSAH, WORCESTER, MASSACHUSETTS