Shook Pro Bono Team Gains Asylum for African Woman

Missouri Lawyers Weekly reported on the Houston Immigration Court’s decision to grant asylum to a woman who faced a life of slavery and mutilation if forced to return to her native country Mali.

Shook lawyers Michael Gray, Jonathan Hernandez, Barbara Light and Brice Nengsu Kenfack represented “AK” who moved to Houston to attend nursing school. When her father died, the remainder of her family fought to have her sent back to Africa.

“Her credible fear was, if she gets sent back she will be persecuted by the family because of those characteristics, and the government won’t protect her,” Shook’s Gray told the publication.

Nengsu Kenfack grew up in Cameroon, also in Western Africa. He spoke French and initially thought he was only going to translate, until he met the client.

“After the interview it became the most important asylum case,” he told MLW. “I heard the story, and it really touched me.”

On August 2, an immigration judge in Houston granted “AK” refugee status, free from the confines of an intolerable life her family wanted thrust upon her.

“It is the most rewarding case I have ever worked on,” Gray stated.

The YMCA International Services recognized Shook for its volunteer work on this case and the firm's commitment to pro bono services.

Shook is committed to pro bono causes. The firm averages 25,000 to 30,000 hours of donated pro bono hours each year.