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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

Legal Innovation Startup Incubation

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 a 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 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.

Jessica Larosa
Jessica Larosa

Jessica is the Startup Experience Ambassador at the Legal Innovation Zone. She is completing a BA in Psychology at TMU. 

Jessica has a diverse background, with experience working at various companies such as Bell and fundraising for various charities such as SickKids Hospital. She worked in several roles, gaining experience in tech sales, fundraising, facility management, fitness instruction and coaching.

Jessica is dedicated to connecting innovative startups with the right resources, opportunities and programs. She aims to “modernize the justice system” and follow through with the Legal innovation zones’ mission to support innovation agendas. 

In her spare time, she loves reading, working out, and enjoying nature.

Hersh Perlis Profile
Hersh Perlis

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.

Veronica Valtati
Veronica Valtati

Veronica is the Marketing Ambassador at the Legal Innovation Zone. In the upcoming academic year, she will be starting her fourth year in the Sociology Co-op program.

Veronica is passionate about creating a positive impact on her community. She enjoys contributing to Toronto Metropolitan University's student community and has done so through her vast experience in student leadership roles within student groups and initiatives.

Her interest in working with the LIZ aligns with her passion for making a difference in her community, while allowing her to gain experience in the marketing and communication field. 

Outside of the LIZ, Veronica enjoys reading, photography, and drinking matcha.

Hiba El Chaarani
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 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.

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Nicole De Filippis

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 Business 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 of 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.

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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.