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.
Robbie is the Startup Experience Coordinator at the Legal Innovation Zone. A combination of User Experience Designer, Product Manager, and Cheerleader, they are very excited to support the next big thing in legal innovation. Main interests in the field include process streamlining, equitable access initiatives and the needs of immigrants and refugees.
Toronto has been home since 2018, but before that Robbie took care of Information Service and Technology needs at the University of Alberta's Faculty of Extension. The biggest project under their belt was a revitalization of classroom space catering to the instruction of future learners.
When not on campus, Robbie spends their time as a business and process analyst for Glad Day Bookshop, the world's oldest LGBTQI+ bookstore. Other interests include live performance and voice acting, reading, and patiently waiting for his next trip to a beach.
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.
Regina is the Marketing Associate at the Legal Innovation Zone. She is in her second year in the Professional Communication program at Toronto Metropolitan University. Regina supports the LIZ via various marketing initiatives. Regina is passionate about the law and working with other startups to help launch their businesses. She has experience working with various industries in the start-up world and also has a vast experience in the customer service industry.
Having lived in two countries, Regina is eager about traveling and exploring the world. Outside of the office and school, you can find her spending time with her family or at home watching crime shows.
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.
Newsha is the Start-up Experience Ambassador at the Legal Innovation Zone (LIZ). In the upcoming academic year, she will begin her fourth year in the Law and Business program and plans to continue her education in the legal field after graduation.
Her desire to join LIZ stems from her interest in the intersection of law and technology, as well as her understanding of the access to justice crisis. Previously, she had the privilege of working with an incredible team at Ryerson's Law and Business Clinic, where she gained a deeper understanding of the inaccessibility of the law and actively assisted a start-up with a variety of business-related legal matters. Prior to that, in the summer of 2021, she interned at MIDO, a legal start-up founded with the support and guidance of LIZ. Overall, Newsha is enthusiastic to serve LIZ and assist the start-ups that have emerged from it.
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.
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 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.