MONROVIA – On Friday, the 16th to Sunday the 18th of September 2022,members of the Noble Second Floor (NSF), held their 4th annual retreat on the theme “Upholding Integrity in a Poverty Prone Country: The Legal Profession in Focus” in Gbarnga, Bong County. The retreat was attended by both lawyers and law students at the Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law.
In her opening address, the NSF President, Mrs. Hnede B. Sillah welcomed everyone and said that the retreat is intended to access the Floor’s activities and projects of the previous semester as well as identify and plan for future projects. Speaking further, the NSF President highlighted that the retreat is also used as a time to learn and interact with legal professionals outside of the classroom.
On Saturday the 17th, Counsellor T. Negbalee Warner who served as the keynote speaker, addressed the association on the theme “integrity in the legal profession with a focus on lawyers, students of law and those aspiring to join the legal profession”. Counsellor Warner who is the Senior Partner at the Heritage Partners and Associates (HPA) Law Firm and former Dean of the Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law admonished the group to ensure that they have integrity in all that they do and follow the rules of ethics at all levels. The Former Dean averred that currently there are about 600 licensed lawyers, more than 200 law school students and about 300 or more people applying for law school admission annually. This means more people want to be part of the legal system but there is a scarcity of law firms or other major employers to accommodate such high number. Such scarcity of chances, earnings and opportunities leads to what he calls making it by all means temptation which can only be resisted by personal choice, efforts and work habits. He named few things all lawyers, and students of law should aspire for in maintaining integrity. (1) he admonished all to know their calling, strength, and value system; (2) they should learn to work hard for as the saying goes “there is no food for lazy man”;(3) they must seek to collaborate; (4) they must learn to stand alone if their moral value demand it and should not be coerced by circumstances or friends.
He added that “integrity is not collectively bargained but is rather a personal choice and a personal decision”. The Former Dean advised members of the Noble Second Floor to make the personal decision to always maintain integrity in all that they do regardless of the circumstance.
Also present and speaking on a panel at the program were Counsellor Jamal C. Detho, Vice President of the Liberian National Bar Association; Counsellor Abrahim B. Sillah, Sr Managing Partner at HPA and Attorney Johnathan Flomo, County attorney of Bong County.
In their panel discussion, the senior lawyers lectured on topics such as integrity and the law, networking and its importance in the legal profession, etc. Cllr. Detho added to what the Former Dean had said about integrity as being honest, respectful to fellow law students, lawyers, the courts, and country. Speaking on networking, Cllr. Sillah called on member of the NSF to see networking as an important tool as one cannot live in isolation but must make a conscious decision to know what network they want to be a part of. He cited the Noble Second Floor as a network that students and graduates of the Law School have established to support intellectualism, scholarliness, and bring people together to assist them in providing better understanding of the law and enhance the practice of legal practice in Liberia. He said that network and net worth are your interactions with others and the value you either bring to the interaction or derive from others. He admonished members of the NSF to be a part of a network where they derive more because the more you derive from your network the more you are able to improve, develop and enhance your understanding, capacity and ability to be a better person be it a social or professional network.
For his part, the Bong County Attorney, Cllr. Johnathan Flomo, provided detail update on his activities in the county and his experience and challenges as County Attorney. He said that in Bong, their work is second to Montserrado in terms of cases won and indicted. From 2018 to now, they have won 93 cases and lost only 3 cases; indicted 23suspects during the last term and as at now have a little over 90 cases on their docket. In total, Attorney Flomo said that he has indicted over 200 suspects since he took over as County Attorney of Bong County. He attributed this to their uncompromising attitude and high level of integrity they have towards their job in the county. He therefore called on members of the Noble Second Floor to always maintain integrity and good morals values as they may be placed in positions of trust. He said that they should not focus on the monetary aspect of the profession but should develop love for country which should prevail in all that they will do.
The retreat also served as the induction ceremony of new members to the Noble Second Floor and saw the induction of nine (9) law school students. Those newly inducted over the weekend were: (1) Yei Wonyei Bakar – 3L; (2) Gabriel Zargo – 2L; (3) Mohammed Moh Massalee – 1L; (4) Emmanuel Kpon Saye – 1L; (5) Lovette Aulte Fahbullah – 1L; (6) Josiah M. Monmia – 1L; (7) Nicole B. W. Harijgens – 1L; (8) Zoe Taylor Doe – 1L; and (9) Dounard Bundo – 3L. Speaking to the new members, President Emeritus, Atty. Prince Kieh reminded them of their duty to academic excellence, the Dean, Professors and fellow students of the Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law as well as to their fellow members of the Noble Second Floor.
The retreat climaxed on Sunday the 18th of September 2022 with a visit to the Bong County Central Prison and one of the mass grave sites of victims of Liberia’s civil war in Phebe, Bong County. At the central prison, the Second Floor interacted with prisoners and prison officials and also donated food and non-food items. At the mass grave site in Phebe, Second Floorers paid respect to those who fell as victims of the Phebe massacre. They were reminded of the need to always strive to live in peace and harmony with one another as Liberians and never to return to the bitter hurts of the civil crisis. Engraved on a marble tomb at the site were the words, …………..” each time we visit this site, may we be reminded that war and violence are not good. We pray that God will deliver us Liberians from hatred. Let us love; for Jesus commands us to love one another and to forgive even those whose actions we remember here by this dedication”.
With a focus on law school, the Noble Second Floor has thus far provided two scholarships worth 2,700 United States dollars to the two high-performing male and female law students. The group also previously provided toiletry materials, water dispensers, clocks, the Dean’s Wall Project amongst other donations to the Louis Arthur Grimes School of law. It is their own way of giving back to their prestigious school and alma mater.
Established in 2019, The Noble Second Floor was established as a campus-based organization comprising dedicated law students and lawyers who are committed to service, academic excellence, and contributing to Liberia’s only school providing legal education to both national and international students.