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Nassira El Hadri

January 3, 2024


Nassira El Hadri’s legal training started long before she had even heard of law school.

Born in Morocco, Nassira El Hadri moved to Spain at the age of six and quickly became the household emissary: keeping an eye out for her younger brother, acting as a translator between her parents and teachers at school functions and taking on responsibility for a significant chunk of the every-day bureaucracy that comes with life in a busy immigrant family.

“I became an advocate without knowing it,” Hadri says. “My parents struggled to understand the legal system, so I was there for them to read forms, draft documents and do anything else they needed help with. It was great preparation for later.”

Still, it wasn’t until after she started an undergraduate degree in labour relations and employment that Hadri discovered her true passion and transferred to law school. Following the completion of her LLB in Spain, Hadri earned a master’s degree in international business law at a French university, before following her partner to Canada, where a less determined character may have allowed her burgeoning legal career to stall.

“It’s very frustrating for internationally trained lawyers coming from civil law jurisdictions because the qualification process is nuanced and requires great financial commitment – we are required to take university courses as opposed to just taking the exams,” Hadri says.

She enrolled in Osgoode’s Professional LLM in Canadian Common Law, attracted in part by the way its core courses are specifically designed to meet the requirements of the Federation of Law Societies of Canada’s National Committee on Accreditation.

According to Hadri, another of the program’s big draws was its flexibility. By taking the LLM part-time, she was able to continue working full-time at a financial services company, gaining experience and expanding her professional network.

“I thought it was the best option because of the access you get to professors, the library and the whole university system,” Hadri says. “It was also important to be able to show that I had been educated in Canada, because that is something employers and clients here really value.”

The program lived up to expectations, both in academic and practical terms, according to Hadri, who says she would recommend it to any internationally trained lawyer who is new to Canada and the country’s legal system, especially if they are coming from a civil law jurisdiction.

“I loved every single professor that I had; they were all really approachable and insightful,” she says. “Going to school in this country is also good for building an understanding of how things work in Canada, the education system and the culture.”

“I felt really supported from day one at Osgoode and I do think it set me up for success,” Hadri adds.

After she completed her articling position at a mid-size firm in Hamilton, Hadri was kept on in an associate position. However, it was always going to be just a matter of time before Hadri spread her wings, and in 2023 she left to establish Toronto business law firm Hadri Law.

“I come from a large family of entrepreneurs who built their businesses from scratch. I understand the challenges business owners face and what it takes to be successful” she explains. “I always wanted to have my own law firm. Shortly after I started working as an associate, I realized how much I loved taking charge of files and dealing with clients directly – I wanted to be free to go and find my own clients.”

Her family’s history in business inspired Hadri to focus her practice on corporate, commercial, and employment law, after witnessing their struggles with the legal side of operations at close quarters.

“Business owners need help drafting, reviewing and negotiating the terms of commercial contracts such as lease agreements, shareholders’ agreements, and purchase agreements, and understanding the laws and regulations that apply to them” she says. “I want to take that burden from them, so that they can focus on what they are good at, which is running the business and making it grow.”

In keeping with her personal background, Hadri is developing an international flavour to her work at Hadri Law, recruiting clients in Europe and Africa, in addition to the Americas.

“I spend as much time as I can strengthening those relationships outside of Canada, which also positions me better to help Canadian clients that want to expand their operations into international markets,” she says. “Having my own firm has given me the freedom to build a remote practice and work anywhere in the world.”

And Hadri’s efforts were recently rewarded when she was announced as a nominee for the Canadian SME National Business Awards, which recognize the contributions of small and medium-sized enterprises to the Canadian economy. She received nominations in three categories: Entrepreneur of the Year, Inspirational Leader of the Year and Business Woman of the Year. The winners will be announced at a ceremony later in 2024.    

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