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Esi Schimming-Chase

Esi Schimming-Chase

Judge of the High Court of Namibia

Acting Judge of the Supreme Court (Court of Appeal), Namibia (from 1 April 2023 to 31 March 2024)

My Story, Your Inspiration

I consider myself a warrior for justice. That is my legacy, but it did not start out that way. My journey into the legal profession was masterminded by my late mother, a stalwart freedom fighter during and after the Apartheid regime that was in effect in Namibia until 1990. She knew me better than I knew myself, of course. From the time I obtained my LLB Hons. in 1994 in the UK, my mother preached vociferously about my returning home to give back to my country. Although initially hesitant, I took to litigation like a fish to water.

Being a young litigator soon after independence was particularly difficult. There were hardly any practicing lawyers of color and even fewer women. I had to look for guidance from colleagues who did not look like me but who had gained significant experience in the past. At every turn, I was reminded by my mother of the gene pool I come from and the responsibility of legacy. Her teachings guided me through a very rewarding career. After the passing of my mother in 2018, my passion for litigation died with her, and I found myself in an emotional quagmire, having lost clarity on the way forward. In September 2020, I received a call to act as a High Court Judge with a view to a permanent appointment. And I did not hesitate. Mom’s legacy had come to fruition. I would not have done it without her.

I encourage women in law to be open-minded about receiving guidance and mentorship from all sources, even seemingly unlikely ones. Also, remember that many women before us managed in far more difficult circumstances. Our successes come from standing on their shoulders and learning from them. I embrace this as an important part of African culture.

I believe in growing a little more every year, as opposed to jumping to great heights immediately. That way, if I stumble, I don’t have to start all over again, but only from where I left off. It is important to recognize that failure can be a blessing, creating opportunities for growth. After all, experience is not bought over the counter. It is an extremely important and ongoing process.

Lastly, I recommend being intentional about surrounding yourself with people who authentically support you in your growth and during your challenges. They are there to help you manage through difficult times.

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