Opportunity is the great fertile ground upon which passion and dedication can bloom, Oshakati based attorney, Grace Mugaviri knows this all too well. From watching courtroom dramas and reading detective novels as a teenager, she had always dreamed of becoming a lawyer, but it was after discovering the construction of the High Court in Oshakati was on the government agenda that she believed establishing her legal firm in the north would not only yield positive results but would enhance her legal profession and aspirations.
Today, under the leadership of one of the first female lawyers to own her own practice in that part of the country, Mugaviri Attorneys is going onto nine years of establishment. After completing her B Juris and LLB Degrees in 2005 and 2007 respectively, Mugaviri worked at Metcalf Legal Practitioners in Windhoek whilst attending her articles at the Justice Training Center which she completed in 2008 and subsequently was admitted as a Legal Practitioner of the High Court of Namibia on 25 April 2008.
In the same year, she was transferred to the Metcalfe Legal Practitioners office in Walvis Bay as a professional assistant until May 2009 when she joined Kishi Legal Practitioners (Oshakati). With this valuable experience in the two legal firms under her belt, she then decided to open her own practice Mugaviri Attorneys in Oshakati in May 2010. “Whilst I knew that the establishment of my legal firm was a challenge I never looked back. Apart from the fact that there were five legal firms operating in the northern part of Namibia I saw a niche especially given that many law firms were concentrated in major towns like Windhoek and the coastal towns,” she tells TF.
With a focus on criminal litigation, civil litigation, contractual and commercial law, customs and excise law, land disputes and debt collection, Mugaviri has become one of the most recognisable names in law practice in the north. With the growth of Mugaviri Attorneys over the years, she realised that she would not be able to practice all aspects of the law herself and in turn engaged the services of two candidate legal practitioners, namely Gottlieb Japhet and Paula Hairwa who assist the firm in various aspects of law, including labour law, environmental law, human rights law, criminal and civil litigation, debt collection, amongst others. This move enabled the firm to diversify its offering. While practicing law is her lifelong passion, Mugaviri appreciates how crucial it was to tame the business side of running your own practice. “Running and managing one’s own firm is very different from being an employee because as an owner you carry the responsibility firstly to ensure that the business operates professionally and profitably to ensure growth. You also work extraordinarily harder because you must carry a heavy responsibility towards firstly yourself to make sure the business is kept afloat and secondly to your employees whose families rely and look up to you for their daily livelihood. In addition, being an owner of firm also enables one to assist a vast variety of clients whom I offer legal advice to on a pro bono basis in some instances,” she says.
Administratively, it is also her responsibility to internally train staff members and to encourage and motivate them to further their studies. This will benefit both the firm and enhance staff member’s skills. And then on top of that, besides juggling the business and practice aspects of law, Mugaviri is a mother of three which makes it quite challenging to balance running business and family life. Any lawyer can tell you that Legal practice is a very demanding profession that requires one to continuously research and keep abreast with both current and past legislative issues. In fact, when TF catches up to her, we only have a very small window for our interview as she must be in court for four hours. “My day starts at 05h30 when I prepare my two children who are school going and then prepare the all-day requirements for my 8-month old baby before I proceed to work. It is sometimes not possible to be home at lunch time all the time due to traffic and deadlines, but I make sure that I am at home early enough to prepare meals for the children and help them with school work before they go to bed at 20h00. The joy of motherhood,” she quips.
And yet, Mugaviri does not rest in her comfort zone. In 2017, she teamed up with Elia Shikongo, Jefta Tjitemisa, Petrus S. Elago, Shakesphere Masiza and Gaenor Michaels as directors and formed Lexna Incorporated Insurance Company that was launched on 21 April 2018 in Windhoek. She was also recently appointed as a council member for the medical and dental council of Namibia for a period of five years. Today she believes young female professionals who want to follow in her footsteps need not shrink from challenges as with hard work and dedication, anything is possible. “It is true that the legal profession is very demanding and taxing, however, if you love what you do, it will be rewarding. As long as you love what you do and assisting people, this is the right profession for you. You must be strong-willed and extremely dedicated and passionate about what you do. Always turn challenges into opportunities.”