About Us

The Legal Innovation Zone (LIZ) is a co-working space and the first legal tech incubator with a focus 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.

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.

Here’s how we do it:

  1. We provide co-working space, support and resources to companies and individuals working on their own ideas.
    Learn more.
  2. We partner with organizations, governments and the legal community to support their own legal innovation agendas by assembling collaborative working groups to tackle challenges. Learn 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.

Our Partners

Startup School
LexisNexis
Ryerson University
Law Foundation of Ontario
Ministry of the Attorney General of Ontario
Osler
Zone Learning

The Legal Innovation Zone at Ryerson University works with companies, law firms, governments and organizations to help propel their own legal innovation agendas.

Bring us a legal challenge or idea. We’ll put together a group of diverse experts and innovators who will collaborate to help tackle it.

The goal of these projects is to drive technological or systemic change within the world of law and justice in Canada.

Email Hersh Perlis to get started.

Our Team

Chris Bentley

Chris Bentley

Managing Director

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%, […]

More
Hersh Perlis

Hersh Perlis

Director

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.

More
Vanessa Francone

Vanessa Francone

Marketing Coordinator

Vanessa is the Marketing and Communications Coordinator at the Legal Innovation Zone. Vanessa graduated from Ryerson’s School of Journalism. Before working at the LIZ, she was the Marketing and Social Media Assistant at the DMZ.

More
Nafis Ahmed

Nafis Ahmed

Startup Experience Coordinator

Nafis is the Startup Experience Coordinator at the Legal Innovation Zone at Ryerson University. Nafis graduated from Ryerson University’s Ted Rogers School of Management, where he majored in Business Technology Management and minored in Human Resources Management.  While attending Ryerson he worked part time at the LIZ as a Zone Services Coordinator.  Prior to his time at the LIZ he worked at the DMZ as an Operations Support Member. Nafis facilitates the development of 19+ startups in various stages of development. Additionally, he oversees the daily internal operations of the LIZ’s co-working environment. He is deeply involved in entrepreneurship and social innovation initiatives through his volunteer activities, and is currently the National Coordinator for SAGE Canada, a non-profit initiative for high school youth.

More
Thijiba Sinnathamby

Thijiba Sinnathamby

Research & Program Assistant

Thijiba Sinnathamby is the Research & Program Assistant at the Legal Innovation Zone at Ryerson University.  She obtained her Juris Doctor from the University of Ottawa Faculty of Law and articled at a prominent boutique estate litigation firm in Toronto.  Thijiba also holds a Masters of Education from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto.  Thijiba has extensive experience in legal research and writing and is passionate about building an accessible and innovative justice system.

More
Leanna Vu

Leanna Vu

LIZ Ambassador: Member Services

Leanna is the LIZ Ambassador: Member Services at the Legal Innovation Zone. She helps the team with marketing and startup services. Leanna is currently an undergraduate student from Ryerson’s School of Creative Industries. She is specializing in Entrepreneurship, Media Business and Professional Communication. Additionally, Leanna is the Creative Specialist for SAGE Ryerson, a non-profit initiative for high school youth.

More

Our Advisors

Friedrich Blase

Friedrich Blase

Entrepreneur-in-Residence

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.

More
Joe Milstone

Joe Milstone

Entrepreneur-in-Residence

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). […]

More
Shelby Austin

Shelby Austin

Advisor

Shelby Austin is the Innovation and Growth Leader for Deloitte’s Financial Advisory Practice and also leads our Legal Project Solutions (“LPS”) offering. LPS focusses on managing large-scale document review and due diligence projects on litigation and competition matters and corporate transactions. Shelby also consults on Legal Spend Management for corporate legal departments. Prior to joining Deloitte, Shelby was the Founder of ATD Legal Services PC (“ATD”) in Toronto, which was acquired by Deloitte. Prior to founding ATD, Shelby was a Partner at a large Bay Street law firm where her practice focused on complex corporate and commercial litigation matters. Shelby is also the recipient of several awards, including, the Risings Stars award given by Lexpert Magazine to Canada’s leading lawyers under 40, and the Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 award given by The Women’s Executive Network (WXN). ATD was also named one of Canada’s Hot 50 companies by Profit Magazine. Shelby is an author of the 2015 release, A […]

More
Mihnea Galeteanu

Mihnea Galeteanu

Advisor

Mihnea has spent the past 15 years imagining, building, breaking and marketing Software products of all shapes and sizes, currently serving as a Director of Product Management at Points and adviser to a couple of startups . Whether at work or at home, he splits his time equally between making and creating a culture of making and entrepreneurship. “Why” is his favorite question.He values “What if” over “No”. Walk and talk over stuffy rooms with slides. He’ll take the word of your current or future users (or the data you have about them) about you over your own words about yourself. Mihnea holds a Bachelor of Enginneering in Software from Carleton University, an MBA from the Rotman School of Management and is hard at work on earning a “Father of the Year” mug.

More
Monica Goyal

Monica Goyal

Advisor

I began my career working as an engineer in R&D for companies like Toshiba, Nortel and Nokia while earning my Masters of Engineering at Stanford. I love law and my background as an engineer has made me a problem solver, an approach I bring to law. This lead to two legal initiatives My Legal Briefcase and Aluvion Law. My focus is to help people solve legal problems in an efficient and tech-savvy manner. I also love teaching and am teaching a course Legal Information Technology at York University’s Osgoode Hall. I was fortunate enough to be named one of 10 Women to Watch in Tech in the Journal of the American Bar Association.

More
Jennifer MacInnis

Jennifer MacInnis

Advisor

Accomplished intellectual property and contracts lawyer with substantial university and hospital experience in research contract drafting and negotiation, invention evaluation and licensing, and research policy development. Provides advice and training on research agreements, commercialization, policy development, and office processes. Specialties: A member of the Ontario bar since 1999, with expertise in intellectual property, licensing and contract law, and negotiation.

More
Dianne Rychlewski

Dianne Rychlewski

Advisor

Marketing and Business Development executive with over 18 years progressive experience within the legal industry as well as in the high tech, payments, software and telecom industries. Proven, decisive and internationally experienced in the leadership, development and implementation of all aspects of marketing communications and business strategy development and a record of leveraging creative thinking to drive growth, lead change and execute a well crafted innovative plan that drives revenue and builds equity in the brand on a local, national or global basis. A proven track record of successes and experience within the legal industry and within the technology industry in establishing, revitalizing and launching an organization, its executives, its products and services into key target markets globally and significantly improved the positioning, tone and recognition of the organization through strong marketing and business management strategies and progressive and solid programs to capture measurable increases in recognition, profile, market share, client perception and ultimately revenue. A founding board member of […]

More
Matt Saunders

Matt Saunders

Advisor

As President of Ryerson Futures, Matt manages a seed stage investment fund and multiple acceleration programs for early-stage technology companies, as well as the Innovation for Hire consulting practice for corporate clients. He has more than 18 years of experience as an entrepreneur and executive working with companies in the technology and service sectors. Matt currently oversees operations in Canada, (Ryerson Futures, Zone Startups Sports + Media in Toronto and Zone Startups Calgary in Alberta), as well as Zone Startups India in Mumbai. Matt has a bachelor of science in business administration and MBA from Northeastern University.

More
Alex Thibault

Alex Thibault

Advisor

In 2015, Alex sold a legal tech company called Edilex to a fast growing law firm who wanted to get into the tech game. He is currently a partner at Therrien Couture Lawyers, where he still leads the long term strategy for Edilex. He also acts as a business advisor for startups and mid-sized companies, helping them deal with everything from increasing Customer Lifetime Value to structuring their shareholder agreements.

More
Rebecca Tran

Rebecca Tran

Advisor

More
Eric Wai

Eric Wai

Advisor

LexisNexis is a leading global provider of legal information and technology. I oversee the operations and long-term strategy for the large-law firm customer segment of our Canadian business. Prior to joining LexisNexis, I worked as a corporate/commercial lawyer and knowledge management lawyer with Canadian and international law firms (Stikeman Elliott and Appleby-Bermuda).

More