“Dreams really do come true,” is actually inscribed on the inside of Hali Adair’s law school ring.
After 22 years of service with the OPP, this native of South Dundas is now a barrister, solicitor and notary, and has accepted a position with the law firm of Horner & Pietersma in Morrisburg. Her dream of practising law has taken her along exciting and challenging paths.
Raised in “the big city of Iroquois”, where her parents still live in the same house, on the same street, Hali attended Iroquois Public School, and graduated from Seaway District High School. She then chose to follow in the footsteps of her grandmother, Helen Smith, “who was a real force in my life,” and attend McMaster University where she earned a degree in sociology, with minors in history and political science.
“I hadn’t completely made up my mind about a career when I graduated,” Hali laughed, “but I did know that eventually I would be a police officer, and, one day, a lawyer. Blame Miss Gibb’s Seaway law class for that decision: I got hooked then on the law and I stayed hooked. But I felt that I also needed to get out and taste the world.”
Policing, she felt, offered a combination of paper work and action that interested her. In her 22 years serving with the OPP, Hali experienced virtually every aspect of police work.
“I served as a motorcycle officer, and worked undercover to arrest drug dealers. I dealt with riots in Toronto where I was out on the streets with Molotov cocktails flying. I’ve worked everything from murder investigations to traffic citations, even to dealing with terrorists. I’ve run the gamut of experiences. My life definitely didn’t lack excitement,” she added.
Hali served in a platoon, then became a detective constable, a detective, a platoon sergeant and eventually a detective sergeant in the intelligence branch of the OPP.
“Yet I always knew that I wanted more. There was always that draw to go back to Law school, and meet new challenges.”
“Members of the platoon I supervised often saw me reading case law, and examining and tackling different scenarios and they finally said to me, you’ve got to go ahead and try. And I really did want to be a lawyer.”
In 2007, Hali applied to Western Michigan University, to the Thomas M. Cooley Law School, which offered an accelerated program where she could complete her law studies in two years rather than four. Her police background was also taken into consideration by the school. She rounded out her American education by becoming licensed in New York State (since 2011). She then returned to Ontario, taking a full year of law school at Queen’s University followed by articling in the Crown’s Kingston office, 2012-13.
“I truly believe that every person is entitled to the best legal defence he can get, whether he is guilty or innocent. I feel, if missteps have been made, well, I have seen the impact that can have on an innocent person’s life. I don’t believe the end justifies the means.”
During her time in Michigan, Hali took part for eight months in the Innocence Project, which works to free wrongly convicted persons under the DNA Act. The cases she examined with the Project have had an effect on her views.
“I realize that having been a cop gives me a unique perspective on a case. When I look at a criminal case, I walk through the investigation. What is missing? What may have been overlooked? I like to investigate a case thoroughly. I want to see all sides, and there are often three sides to every story.”
Her police training has taught her to be calm, to carefully set aside emotions, even in a situation of utter chaos, to deal with the reality of “death and pain and deep sorrow,” with professionalism. For every scenario in law, Hali often has a corresponding real life experience upon which to draw. This allows her to listen to what people tell her, and not to leap to judgement.
“I love what I do now. I just love it,” Hali said. “The law is so interesting and challenging. And I am so fortunate to have Eldon and Eric here and acting as mentors too. I’ve only been here three weeks, but, boy,” she added laughing, “they’ve thrown a lot at me in those three weeks.”
Conversant in both civil and criminal law, Hali Adair brings a unique wealth of experiences to her new career in the legal profession.
“I hope to be a good lawyer and a good litigator. Sometimes the art of being a good lawyer is knowing when to be on your feet in a courtroom, and when to sit down and negotiate.”