Canadian Lawyer

September 2020

The most widely read magazine for Canadian lawyers

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Page 15 of 51

14 FEATURE CROSS EXAMINED TRADITIONALLY, THE STARS of the legal profession are depicted as lone actors fighting the good fight. Think top litigators advocating for their clients, corporate lawyers getting the deal done or politicians and judges blazing a trail of new law or legal precedent. But there is a newer picture emerging to which lawyers can aspire. Instead of standing in the spotlight, this new lawyer brings stakeholders together to spark innovation or doggedly works across sectors to improve access to justice. Elizabeth Hall most definitely epitomizes the latter. As the executive director of the Ontario Bar Association, she has supported many stars in the legal profession who have appeared in the spotlight throughout her varied career. "I have really spent the last more than a decade of my career as an advisor, and that is essentially what I am now in many ways," she says. After serving as chief of staff to three Ontario provincial cabinet ministers and strategic advisor to Ryerson's Law Practice Program, Hall was appointed to head up the OBA in February 2018. Hall also worked in private practice for nine years and ran in a provincial election in historically conservative riding, that she truly felt her calling. "That was, for me, the role of a lifetime. It mattered that I had an affinity for the law, it mattered that I had a respect for the profession. All those things that I didn't want to give up when I left private practice were things I didn't have to give up." After working with Bentley, Hall worked at the Ontario Bar Association as director of policy and public affairs, and then she returned to the Ontario government to work as chief of staff in various ministries. She then took a contract position with Ryerson University's Law Practice Program, and then she finally landed her current posi- tion at the OBA. In that job interview, Hall pitched the idea of an "innovator-in-residence" program, which she felt would better address how the legal profession should be managing techno- 2007, roles that she found challenging but brought depth to her current advisor role. In private practice, the individualistic approach can be a challenge for a collabo- rator and advisor such as Hall. "I continued to fight against not being suited to the private practice of law for many years, given how long I'd wanted to be a lawyer and my affinity for the law and my love for the profession, and it was very diffi- cult to accept that maybe the private practice of law was not for me," she says. After nine years in private practice, Hall moved between public service and private practice from 2005 to 2007, acting as a senior advisor in various ministries and then practising at Scott Bellan & Hall LLP as she prepared to run in the 2007 Ontario provin- cial election. But it was not until she landed a job as chief of staff to Attorney General Chris Bentley, after her unsuccessful run in a "One of the things that the last 10 years of my career has been made up of is getting the right people in the room to talk through solutions." WORKING BEHIND THE SCENES IN A CRISIS Elizabeth Hall had always worked collaboratively, but managing the COVID crisis at the OBA truly put her skills to the test, writes Tim Wilbur

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