PIONEER AFRICAN WOMEN IN LAW
Chief Justice Sie-A-Nyene Gyapay Youh
Third woman Chief Justice of the Republic of Liberia
By Esenam Edusei
Chief Justice Sie-A-Nyene Gyapay Youh was born and raised in Montserrado County in Monrovia, Liberia. She received her high school training at St.Teresa Convent Catholic High School in 1974 and proceeded to Cuttington University in Suakoko, Bong County for her undergraduate degree in Political Science. She then studied at Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law where she obtained her Bachelor of Laws (LLB) Degree.
She was called to the Liberia National Bar Association in 1988 as an Attorney-At-Law, after which she joined the Supreme Court as a Counsellor-At-Law. She has had several avenues to build her legal career, in both the public and private service. Between 1983 and 1990, she served in various roles in the Executive branch of the Republic of Liberia, including Assistant Minister for legal affairs at the Ministry of Justice as well as Coordinator of African Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. She has also worked with the Central Bank of Liberia as a Corporate Secretary, assistant Legal Counsel and Secretary on the Board of Governors from 2000 to 2003. She continued to become the Acting Executive Director and Commissioner of the Law Reform Commission from 2011 to 2013. Following this, she rose through the ranks to become the Associate Justice in May 2013. In the private sector, she served as an associate and legal counsel at the David A.B. Jallah Law Firm in Monrovia from 1994 to 2000.
Chief Justice Youh has also served on various legal associations in which she contributed to the shaping of the Liberian legal landscape. She was the Vice President of the Liberia National Bar Association (LNBA) from 1994 to 1998. She also worked as the Chairperson of the Judiciary Committee of the Liberia National Bar Association and held the position of President of the Maryland County Bar Association between 2012 and 2013.
It is worth noting that Chief Justice Youh is one of the founding members of the Association of Female Lawyers in Liberia (AFELL) and served as the first Vice President of the association from 1997 to 1998. In this role, she set a precedent in ensuring that gender-related issues are prioritized and addressed in the legal profession.
It was a truly historic moment in 2022 when Chief Justice Sie-A-Nyene Gyapay Youh was nominated as the third female Chief Justice to be appointed in Liberia since 2003. She was inducted into office by President George Weah and her appointment officially took effect on 28th September 2022. Chief Justice Youh continues to commit to professional excellence by assuring the populace of her devout dedication to impartial justice for all, regardless of race, sex or social status. She shared her vision at the opening of court for the October term, after taking her place as the new Chief Justice of Liberia. She reiterated her devotion to carrying out her responsibilities and obligations in line with the provisions of the Constitution of Liberia, while indicating her hope to see more female legal practitioners take up positions on the judicial bench.
Chief Justice Youh has set a great example for female lawyers by contributing to changing the narrative in the limitations surrounding the heights women in the legal profession can attain.