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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:

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Legal Innovation Startup Incubation

The LIZ supports startups that are building technology based solutions for legal consumers.

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Supporting Innovation Agendas

The LIZ works with companies, law firms, governments and organizations to help propel their own legal innovation agendas from ideation to execution.

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Designing 21st Century Justice System

The LIZ initiates various projects to help drive technological and/or systemic change in the legal field.

Chris Bentley Profile
Chris Bentley

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 Bauer Profile
Jess Bauer

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.

Hersh Perlis Profile
Hersh Perlis

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.

Omar Taleb Profile
Lauren Awalt

Lauren is the Marketing Associate at the Legal Innovation Zone. She is entering her third year at Ryerson University’s Creative Industries program and is specializing in graphic communications management and the music industry. Lauren supports the LIZ through internal communications, researching marketing trends, creating graphics and videos for social media, and analyzing the performance of all content. With a background in graphic design, event planning, and social media management, Lauren hopes to bring a unique voice to the legal tech sector.

Hiba El Chaarani Profile
Hiba El Chaarani

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.

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Kirat Dhaliwal

Kirat is the Startup Experience Ambassador at the Legal Innovation Zone. She is entering her second year in the Criminology program at Ryerson University. Kirat supports the LIZ through administrative work and start-up engagement. She is passionate about the intersection of law, social justice and technology and hopes to pursue a career in the legal industry in the coming years. 

Kirat enjoys spending time giving back to the community and can often be found volunteering for grassroots organizations across Ontario. She is also passionate about reading and loves spending time outdoors. 

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Friedrich Blase

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.

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Joe Milstone

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.

Every year the LIZ publishes an Annual Report. 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.