The LIZ Team

Chris Bentley
Chris Bentley

Executive Director - Legal Innovation Zone and Law Practice Program

Chris practiced criminal defence and labour law for 23 years at every level of court. While teaching part-time for 10 of those years at Western’s law school, he set up the Careers Office and was recognized for his teaching. He was a founder and the first chairperson of Neighbourhood Legal Services of London and Middlesex, established to help those who could not afford legal services. Chris was elected as the MPP for London West in 2003, and was a Minister in the Ontario Government for 10 years, including Labour, Training, Colleges and Universities, Energy, Aboriginal Affairs and Attorney General for 4 years.

Chris is an agent of change – determined to improve what he finds. While in government, Chris lead change initiatives such as Justice on Target, that reduced appearances and time to trial in criminal cases for the first time in 18 years (nationally recognized and twice internationally nominated), a health and safety initiative that reduced injuries by 20%, 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 Aboriginal relations recognized by the United Nations.

After politics he joined Ryerson University and helped obtain and set up the Law Practice Program, a modern approach to transition year training for lawyers. He recently helped establish the Legal Innovation Zone, Canada’s first, to help build an accessible 21st century justice system.

U of T law and Cambridge U grad, Chris is also an author. He enjoys life with his Wife, Wendy, and 2 daughters. He also runs - unfortunately, that has not improved.

Hersh Perlis
Hersh Perlis

Director - Legal Innovation Zone

Hersh Perlis is the Director of the Legal Innovation Zone at Ryerson University. Prior to coming to Ryerson he spent almost 5 years at Queens Park as a Senior Advisor to several ministers. While at Queens Park he helped create, expand and oversee 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.

Josh Morrison
Josh Morrison

Program Manager- Legal Innovation Zone

Josh Morrison is a lawyer currently working for the Legal Innovation Zone at Ryerson University. He received his Juris Doctor from Osgoode Hall at York University and later completed the LLM program (Master of Laws) with a concentration in Business at the University of Toronto. He is now managing the Legal Innovation Zone’s Family Reform Community Collaboration, a series of sessions dedicated to creating a less adversarial, faster, and less expensive approach to resolving family disputes. Josh is also managing the Legal Innovation Zone’s Legal Entrepreneur Support Program (LESP), working to develop an updated infrastructure that will better service the needs of the entrepreneurs in the Zone community at Ryerson University.

Syed Nafis Ahmed
Syed Nafis Ahmed

Coordinator- Legal Innovation Zone

Nafis is currently the Coordinator at Ryerson's Legal Innovation Zone, and was previously working at The DMZ as an IT Support. He has a strong background in business and technology management, as he is working towards completing his undergrad from Ryerson's TRSM, while also minoring in Human Resource Management. He is deeply involved with youth entrepreneurship and social innovation initiatives through his voluntary activities.

Vanessa Francone
Vanessa Francone

Marketing Coordinator - Legal Innovation Zone

Vanessa is getting ready to graduate from Ryerson's School of Journalism. Before working at the Legal Innovation Zone, she was the Marketing and Social Media Assistant at the DMZ. She is committed to helping startups and is always on the hunt to learn new skills.