The Legal Innovation Zone (LIZ) is a global hub focused on building better legal solutions for the consumers of legal services. The LIZ helps support, foster and develop solutions and techniques to improve legal services and the justice system and was the world’s first legal tech incubator.
Entrepreneurs, lawyers, students, tech experts, government members and industry leaders converge in the Legal Innovation Zone to drive legal innovation. Based on the model of the DMZ — Canada’s #1 university-based incubator, where more than 150 startups have grown their businesses — we help support, foster and develop solutions and technologies that aim to improve the justice system and legal services.
The LIZ has three primary focus points:
Chris is the Managing Director of the Legal Innovation Zone (LIZ) and the Law Practice Program (LPP), both housed at Ryerson University, Toronto. Chris co-founded LIZ, Canada’s first incubator dedicated to legal startups, to help deliver better legal solutions to consumers. It supports legal startups, R & D for law firms, businesses, organizations and government, and practical reform initiatives. Chris led the development of the LPP, a modern approach to lawyer licensing authorized by the Law Society of Ontario.
Chris was elected as an Ontario MPP for London West from 2003-2013. He was a member of Cabinet for all 10 years, serving as Minister in 5 Cabinet posts: 4 years as Attorney General, as well as Labour, Training Colleges and Universities, Aboriginal Affairs, and Energy. He drove a number of change initiatives, such as Justice on Target (that reduced, for the first time in 18 years, the time to trial and the number of court appearances per criminal case), a health and safety initiative that reduced workplace injuries by 20 % in 3 years, the 4 Pillars of Family Reform, Civil Justice Reform, the largest funding increase in Legal Aid’s history, and was part of a new approach to indigenous relations recognized by the United Nations. He also helped drive the implementation of the Reaching Higher investments in postsecondary education.
For 23 years before politics Chris practiced criminal defence and labour law. He taught part-time for 10 of those years at Western’s Law School, and helped establish and became the first Chairperson of Neighbourhood Legal Services, London and Middlesex, which provides legal services to those who cannot afford them.
U of T Law and Cambridge U grad, Chris enjoys life with his wife, Wendy, and 2 daughters. He also runs, and has run 3 Boston Marathons.
Jess is the Marketing and Communications Coordinator at the Legal Innovation Zone. She holds a Bachelor of Communications in Public Relations from the University of Canberra in Australia. Prior to joining the LIZ, Jess worked in marketing and business development at Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP (Blakes). She also has experience developing communications for various Australian federal government agencies.
Jess is passionate about strategic communications and finding creative ways to tell a story. She is constantly seeking new and innovative approaches to connect with audiences, especially in a digital world.
With the perks of dual citizenship between Canada and Australia, she loves to travel and spend time in nature.
Simrun is the Start-up Experience Ambassador at the Legal Innovation Zone. She is entering her second year at Ryerson University’s Law and Business program. Simrun is passionate about technological innovation within the legal industry and supports the LIZ through administrative work. Simrun is passionate about the legal field and aspires to become a lawyer in the future.
Simrun is interested in reading and travelling to different parts of the world.
Hersh Perlis is the co-founder and Director of the Legal Innovation Zone (LIZ) at Ryerson University. Hersh briefly left the LIZ to become Chief of Staff of Deloitte’s Artificial Intelligence practice – Omnia. Prior to coming to Ryerson he spent almost 5 years at Queens Park as a Senior Advisor to several ministers.
Hersh oversaw a number of initiatives while at Deloitte including the integration of the firms AI practice in Chile and with the development and execution of strategic programs to help continue the rapid growth of Deloitte’s AI practice. While at Queens Park he created, expanded and oversaw a number of key initiatives on behalf of the government. These included the 2015 Pan and Parapan American Games as well as other initiatives such as the Industrial Electricity Incentive Program and the Right to Play program for rural and remote First Nation communities. Prior to his time in government he was Director of Development for a national not-for-profit organization.
Sports, politics and the lake are his passion and he enjoys them with his wife and two sons.
Jason is the Project Manager of the Family Reform project. Working with Canadian Family Mediation industry leaders, this project aims to educate, screen, and triage couples going through separation to find alternatives to court.
Jason is an accomplished education technology entrepreneur. He cofounded a startup in 2012 that aimed to help universities in Africa go online. For this, his company was recognized by the U.N. as one of the top edtech companies to help meet the Millenium Develoment Goals of 2015. He also went to Davos for the World Economic Forum to present to Christine Lagarde and other leaders on the role of education plays in the spirit of excellence for the African continent.
He came to Canada after having his startup acquired by Canadian investors. He now enjoys working on new projects that push the boundaries of innovation.
Hiba is the startup experience coordinator at the Legal Innovation Zone. She holds a Master’s degree in International Business from the Grenoble Graduate School of Business in France. Since 2009, Hiba has been part of multinational organizations in the corporate, education and non-profit sectors. During her experiences at L’Oreal, Endeavor and Ryerson University Hiba established a solid background in client servicing, project management, business development, communications and event planning.
Hiba is passionate about the startup landscape in Toronto, and has worked with startups from various industries to jump-start their businesses. She is eager to support Canada’s emerging generation of entrepreneurs and is interested in the merge of technology, community and innovation to disrupt the legal sector among others.
Having lived and worked in four different countries, Hiba is a nature lover and is passionate about traveling and the outdoors.
Omar is a Marketing Associate at the Legal Innovation Zone. He is entering his third year at Ryerson’s Creative Industries program and is specializing in both journalism and graphic communications management. Omar supports the LIZ through internal communications, outreach, social media, and by ensuring all marketing channels are up to date. Passionate about stories of all kinds, he sees the monetary and cultural value in connecting with diverse audiences and consumers, striving to integrate creative storytelling in different aspects of his professional life.
I am an entrepreneur, business builder and legal industry leader, with expertise in improving the competitiveness and financial performance of legal service providers. As one of the founding directors of The Un-Firm of the Future, I work with buyers and sellers of legal services to significantly improve the legal coverage at substantially lower costs. I sit on boards and advise legal tech companies.
Joe Milstone is Founder, Axiom Canada, and Co-Founder, Caravel Law (formerly Cognition LLP). Before the sale of Cognition’s General Counsel-facing business to Axiom in 2016, Joe was co-founder and CEO of Cognition LLP, Canada’s first and leading alternative model business law provider, offering an ideal alternative to hiring one or more full-time in house counsel or retaining a traditional business law firm. Giving clients the best of both worlds, Cognition’s (and now Axiom’s and Caravel’s) unique model provides senior, dedicated, business-minded legal advice at affordable rates through a trimmed down overhead structure and technology advancement. Founded in 2005, clients include multinationals/conglomerates such as Volkswagen, Home Depot, Johnson & Johnson, Rexall, Rogers Communications and a number of Canada’s leading financial institutions, as well as well known growth companies including Hootsuite, AudienceView Ticketing, Sysomos and Top Hat Monocle.
Before Cognition, Joe served in the capacity of Vice-President, Legal and Business Services at both Magna Entertainment Corp. and Call-Net Enterprises Inc. (Sprint Canada). Joe also worked for a number of years in the financial services industry in the legal, policy and lobbying areas on behalf of the Canadian banking and trust industries. Joe began his working career at the law firm of Osler, Hoskin and Harcourt and has also run his own tour company business in Ontario. Joe holds a joint JD/MBA degree from Osgoode Hall/Schulich School of Business.
Check out our highlights and initiatives from previous years at the LIZ. Click on the images below to read more.
Member of the Ryerson Zone Learning Network
The Legal Innovation Zone belongs to Ryerson University’s network of Zones, each specializing in sectors that are poised for growth and transformation. These zones are helping to support the next generation of entrepreneurs and changemakers from Ryerson and beyond.