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 Toronto Metropolitan University. 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.
Jordan is the Startup Experience Ambassador at the Legal Innovation Zone and will be a part of TMU's Class of 2025, completing a BA in History and a minor in Law. After graduation she plans to continue her education in the fields of law, public policy or international relations with a JD and/or a relevant Master's degree.
Jordan's interest in joining the LIZ arises from an awareness of the antiquated and outdated nature of legal process in Canada, and similarly, an understanding of how increased access to justice benefits everyone. She has been thoroughly impressed at how the startups at the LIZ are modernizing and making the legal process more efficient for both lawyers and clients.
Jordan has a passion for student involvement and leadership, volunteering her time to several student groups and initiatives. Outside of school and the LIZ, she hangs out with her cats, watches horror movies and listens to a ton of music -- Elliot Smith and Kendrick Lamar being her recent favourites.
Hersh Perlis is the co-founder and Director of the Legal Innovation Zone (LIZ) at Toronto Metropolitan 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.
Anabia is the Marketing Ambassador at the Legal Innovation Zone. In the upcoming academic year, she will be a fourth year student in the Graphic Communications Management program.
The focus of the Legal Innovation Zone aligns with her interest to improve the current-day justice system. She is part of many law related student-run groups that focus on supporting wrongfully convicted individuals. Outside of the LIZ, Anabia enjoys playing video games and painting or sketching.
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 Toronto Metropolitan 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.
Nicole is the Marketing and Communications Coordinator at the Legal Innovation Zone.
She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in New Media, with a minor in Buisness and Marketing from Toronto Metropolitan University. Since 2018, Nicole has been working in the marketing field with small businesses, start-ups, franchises, and more, giving her a unique perspective and knowledge into the marketing industry.
She enjoys her work the most when she is making a positive impact and helping others achieve their goals. Her favourite area of focus is in technology and innovation.
Outside of the LIZ, Nicole loves hanging out with her dog and going for walks or hikes. She also loves cooking, baking, creating art in many forms, and exploring her city.
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.
Every year the LIZ publishes an Annual Report. Click on the images below to read more.
Member of the TMU Zone Learning Network
The Legal Innovation Zone belongs to Toronto Metropolitan 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 TMU and beyond.