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Fifty-five years ago, Alfred Gemma’s father gave him advice that proved to be providential. Alfred had just completed his undergraduate studies at Brown University and begun interviewing for a job with various companies. None of them really appealed to him.
Alfred’s father, Alfred Sr., had immigrated to the U.S. along with his wife, Emily, and the two operated a successful small grocery story in Providence, Gemma’s Market.
But he didn’t want his son to follow in his career footsteps. He thought his son was cut out to be a lawyer. After his post-college job interviews proved to be less than exciting, Alfred agreed.
“I finally thought, ‘Hey, maybe I’ll take his advice,’ recalls Alfred, 76.
After earning his J.D. in 1959 from the University of Chicago, where he was a member of the Law Review, Alfred spent six months working for a law firm before striking out on his own. He remained a solo practitioner for five years before adding a second lawyer to the operation.
Today, Gemma Law Associates numbers six lawyers, including Alfred’s sons Peter and Mark, who joined the firm in 1990 and 1997, respectively, and who now manage the firm.
In addition to maintaining a busy law practice over the years, Gemma has been active in Democratic politics, serving on the Democratic State Committee and the Democratic Representative Committee and with the American Association for Justice and the Rhode Island Association for Justice.
Gemma says he has stayed active in these organizations in an effort to maintain access to justice for people who are wronged and injured.
“There’s just been much more of a concerted effort to keep the public away from lawyers, and to some extent it’s working,” he says. “People come to us after they’ve been seriously injured and they say, ‘Gee, I’ve got all these medical bills, and the insurance company gave me 500 bucks and I signed off because I didn’t realize how seriously I was injured.’”
“We help people get compensated for other people’s negligence,” he says. “We protect the public from negligence and wrongdoing of companies and people, and we make them whole.”
“Usually, when people come to us, there’s very substantial medical and wage losses. We take cases on contingency, so they don’t have to pay any money up front, which is important to them because they don’t have any money, they’re injured, they’re out of work, and we attempt to make them whole after the negligence of someone else.”
“So it isn’t just financial; it’s being able to help these people.”
Gemma says that being an effective advocate for injured persons requires more than just a pugnacious frame of mind. While zealousness is important, he says, it’s important to be respected by your legal opponents for seeking fair outcomes.
He’s finding more time to indulge in some of his other favorite activities, including reading up on financial investments and spending time with his 11 grandchildren.
Providence, Rhode Island
Brown University (B.A., 1956) University of Chicago Law School (J.D., 1959)
Rhode Island, U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island
Personal Injury; Automobile Accidents and Injuries; Motorcycle Accidents;Slip and Fall; Medical Malpractice; Product Injuries; Workers’ Compensation; Wrongful Death; Mesothelioma; Nursing Home Accidents/Injuries; Social Security Disability Claims; Lead Poisoning
Rhode Island Bar Association; Rhode Island Association for Justice; American Association for Justice
McCauly House (volunteer); Elmwood Little League (team sponsor); AMOS House; St. Rocco’s Church; Gateway Pentecostal Church; St. Vincent and Paul Society; Committee of Immigration in Action; National Coalition for Dignity and Amnesty; United Pentecostal Church; DARE- RI Drug Officers Association; RIPDO- RI Disabled Police Officers; RI Juvenile Association; Multiple Scoliosis Walkathon; San Miguel School (President’s Counsel); Rhode Island Senate Citation in recognition of generosity to community in the holiday seasons