Kwame Clement, J.D. '98 (right), shakes hands with the President of Botswana, H.E. Seretse Khama Ian Khama
Monrovia – Veteran Liberian US-based lawyer and journalist, Cllr.Kwame Clement is back in his homeland and upbeat about his new venture, the official launch of a law firm in his native Liberia, he described Monday as an exciting process.
Cllr. Clement admitted that while he is enjoying his new career in law, he has always loved broadcasting, but through the practice of law, he has come to the realization that law plays a vital role in society. According to him, as a refugee from Liberia, the law provided him a source of living in the United States of America.
“When I went to the US as a refugee, it allowed me to make a living to work and to put money in my pocket, but practicing law also thought me the vital role law plays in society. You know our dreams, you dream to know what are the facts, and then you must identify the issues that need to be resolved and then you must apply the law to the facts to resolve the issues and set forth your rationale for the conclusion of the issues”, the lawyer stated.
In legal practice, he disclosed that some cases are complicated and as such lawyers must identify the issues before moving to resolve them, noting that it makes law a special profession.
Pro bono lawyer -Ready to Help Liberians
With a judiciary system in Liberia that has been persistently criticized for corruption and violation of human rights, Clement said he is ready to begin helping poor Liberians.
“We want to start up doing serious pro Bono work, we understand the number of people in jail, some been there for three to four years for the simplest of crimes and pretrial detention last very long and we think we can make some contributions in that regard”, he assured.
He praised the Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law at the University of Liberia for contributing to his legal sojourn, indicating that through the rigorous program in Liberia, he was able to sit the US state of New York Bar test making a successful pass.
Generally, he said Liberia is a great country and the people should be proud of their country, although it has been through turbulent times but Liberians should still appreciate their country.
During an interview on his popular television show, "The African World"
“We are at a historical crossroad, we can choose a path to continue financial progress, stagnation, anything retrogression but I think we also have the opportunity to also choose a path of broadly shared prosperity and security, we can do so by committing ourselves not to one political party or one person, but we can do so by committing ourselves to a set of ideas, a set of principles, a set of vision that can transform our country for the better”, the lawyer said.
Cllr. Eugene Bull from the United States, who was also at the opening, said he was on the hiring committee back in the US when Clement applied and his resume was quite impressive.
Clement, Clr. Bull said had gone to law school in the US, after all of the events in Liberia, and finished as one of the top of his class, because he came the 3rd or 4th in a class of 500 students, ‘and I tell you that is not an easy accomplishment’, Bull said.
“In no time, he was accepted and everybody was excited to have him on board. On many occasions I have been able to talk to Kwame and he has a passion for Liberia. And I am happy that he is now in Liberia and getting his foot print on the ground. He has always been an inspiration to a generation of Liberians and to some of us in the US” said Cllr. Bull.
He further said even though he and Kwame argued many times because they have not always been on the same side of issues, but said they have always been on the same side of the principle.
Clement is a founding member of a political party in Liberia, the Alternative National Congress (ANC) and many believe he could use the law firm through pro Bono work to sell the new political party. Clement fled Liberia along with his wife in July 1990 and received political asylum in the United States. The former University of Liberia Student Leaders received an Economics degree from the University of Liberia.
In the U.S., he applied and gained entry to a paralegal program at George Washington. He graduated at the head of his class in 1992. He later applied for a J.D. at GW. Clement later joined the prestigious Arnold & Porter law firm
After graduating from GW, Mr. Clement won a clerkship with Carlos Lucero, J.D. '64, a federal judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit in Colorado. Mr. Clement returned to Arnold & Porter after clerking for the judge, and worked in antitrust and securities law until 2006. In 2006, Clement launched a television program called "The African World," which, he says, responds to the “often unflattering coverage” Africa receives in American media.
The same year, Clement was part of the Arnold and Potter team commercial litigation team, which earned a major victory on behalf of Keystone Holdings Partners, LP and its principal investor, Robert M. Bass, when the US Court of Federal Claims awarded Keystone's former subsidiary American Savings Bank US$401.5 million in restitution and damages in a breach of contract action against the United States.
Arnold & Porter's commercial litigation group is currently at the forefront of litigation involving a wide variety of complex commercial and financial issues, and has developed significant experience in the development and presentation of complex damages claims.
In 2007, Clement was invited by former President Bill Clinton to moderate a panel at the Clinton Global Initiative in 2007. He has also moderated panels at the Global Health Council’s annual conferences.